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§ 15. Petition for the Abolition of Clerical Celibacy. Zwingli’s Marriage.


In July of the same year (1522), Zwingli, with ten other priests, sent a Latin petition to the bishop, and a German petition to the Swiss Diet, to permit the free preaching of the gospel and the marriage of the clergy as the only remedy against the evils of enforced celibacy. He quotes the Scriptures for the divine institution and right of marriage, and begs the confederates to permit what God himself has sanctioned. He sent both petitions to Myconius in Lucerne for signatures. Some priests approved, but were afraid to sign; others said the petition was useless, and could only be granted by the pope or a council.7979    · Werke, I. A. 30-51; III. 16-25.

The petition was not granted. Several priests openly disobeyed. One married even a nun of the convent of Oetenbach (1523); Reubli of Wyticon married, April 28, 1523; Leo Judae, Sept. 19, 1523.

Zwingli himself entered into the marriage relation in 1522,8080    See the letters of Myconius from 1522, where he sends salutations to Zwingli’s wife, quoted in § 7, p. 28. but from prudential reasons he did not make it public till April 5, 1524 (more than a year before Luther’s marriage, which took place June 13, 1525). Such cases of secret marriage were not unfrequent; but it would have been better for his fame if, as a minister and reformer, he had exercised self-restraint till public opinion was ripe for the change.

His wife, Anna Reinhart,8181    His letter to her bears the inscription, "Der Frauen Anna Reinhartin in Zürich, seiner lieben Hausfrau." Opera, VIII. 134. Others spell the name Reinhard. was the widow of Hans Meyer von Knonau,8282    A soldier of wild habits, who belonged to one of the oldest and richest families of Zurich, and died 1517. the mother of three children, and lived near Zwingli. She was two years older than he. His enemies spread the report that he married for beauty and wealth; but she possessed only four hundred guilders besides her wardrobe and jewelry. She ceased to wear her jewelry after marrying the Reformer.

We have only one letter of Zwingli to his wife, written from Berne, Jan. 11, 1528, in which he addresses her as his dearest house-wife.8383    It is as follows (VIII. 134): "Gnad und Fried von Gott. Liebste Hausfrau, ich sage Gott Dank, dass er dir eine fröhliche Geburt verliehen hat; der wolle uns die nach seinem Willen zu erziehen verleihen. Schicke meiner Base ein oder zwei Tüchli [Tüchlein], solcher Mass und Weise, als du sie trägst. Sie kommt ziemlich [sittsam], doch nicht beginlich [i. e., wie eine Nonne, eine Beghine], ist eine Frau von 40 Jahren in alle Weis und Mass, wie sie Meister Jörgen Frau beschrieben hat. Thut mir und uns Allen über die Mass gütlich. Bis [Sei] hiemit Gott befohlen. Grüsse mir Gevatter Schaffnerin, Ulmann Trinkler, Schulthess Effingerin und wer dir lieb sei. Bitt Gott für mich und uns Alle. Gegeben zu Bern 11. Tag Jänners. Grüsse mir alle deine Kinder. Besonders Margreth tröste in meinem Namen. Huldreich Zwingli, dein Hauswirth." From occasional expressions of respect and affection for his wife, and from salutations of friends to her, we must infer that his family life was happy; but it lacked the poetic charm of Luther’s home. She was a useful helpmate in his work.8484    One of his friends calls her "eine Mitarbeiterin am Wort, welche dir, dem Apostel, behülflich ist." Finsler, U. Zwingli, p. 52 sq. She contributed her share towards the creation of pastoral family life, with its innumerable happy homes.8585    Comp. vol. VI. § 79, p. 473 sqq.

In Zwingli’s beautiful copy of the Greek Bible (from the press of Aldus in Venice, 1518), which is still preserved and called "Zwingli’s Bible," he entered with his own hand a domestic chronicle, which records the names, birthdays, and sponsors of his four children, as follows: "Regula Zwingli, born July 13, 1524;8686    She married Rudolf Gwalter, Bullinger’s adopted son and successor, and first editor of Zwingli’s collected works. Wilhelm Zwingli, born January 29, 1526;8787    He studied at Strassburg with Capito, and died with him of the pestilence, 1541. Huldreich Zwingli, born Jan. 6, 1528;8888    He became pastor of the Prediger-Kirche, and married Bullinger’s oldest daughter, Anna. Anna Zwingli, born May 4, 1530."8989    Anna died very young, and her death is recorded in the same book. His last male descendant was his grandson, Ulrich, professor of theology, born 1556, died 1601. The last female descendant was his great-granddaughter, Anna Zwingli, who presented his MS. copy of the Greek Epistles of Paul to the city library of Zurich in 1634.

Zwingli lived in great simplicity, and left no property. His little study (the "Zwingli-Stübli"), in the official dwelling of the deacon of the Great Minster, is carefully preserved in its original condition.



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