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§ 37. The Reformation in the Grisons. Comander. Gallicius. Campell.


The work of CAMPELL quoted in § 36.

Bartholomäus Anhorn: Heilige Wiedergeburt der evang. Kirche in den gemeinen drei Bündten der freien hohen Rhätien, oder Beschreibung ihrer Reformation und Religionsverbesserung, etc. Brugg, 1680 (pp. 246). A new ed. St. Gallen, 1860 (pp. 144, 8°). By the same: Püntner Aufruhr im Jahr 1607, ed. from MSS. by Conradin von Mohr, Chur, 1862; and his Graw-Püntner [Graubündner]-Krieg, 1603–1629, ed. by Conr. von Mohr, Chur, 1873.

*Petrus Dominicus Rosius De Porta (Reformed minister at Scamff, or Scanfs, in the Upper Engadin): Historia Reformationis Ecclesiarum Raeticarum, ex genuinis fontibus et adhuc maximam partem numquam impressis sine partium studio deducta, etc. Curiae Raetorum. Tom. I., 1771 (pp. 658, 4°); Tom. II., 1777 (pp. 668); Tom. III., Como, 1786. Comes down to 1642. Next to Campell, the standard authority and chief source of later works.

Leonhard Truog (Reformed pastor at Thuais): Reformations-Geschichte von Graubünden aus zuverlässigen Quellen sorgfältig geschöpft. Denkmal der dritten Sekular-Jubelfeier der Bündnerischen Reformation. Chur (Otto), 1819 (pp. 132).—Reformationsbüchlein. Ein Denkmal des im Jahr 1819 in der Stadt Chur gefeierten Jubelfestes. Chur (Otto), 1819. (pp. 304).

*Christian Immanuel Kind (Pfarrer und Cancellarius der evang. rhätischen Synode, afterward Staats-Archivarius of the Grisons, d. May 23, 1884): Die Reformation in den Bisthümern Chur und Como. Dargestellt nach den besten älteren und neueren Hülfsmitteln. Chur, 1858 (Grubenmann), pp. 310, 8°. A popular account based on a careful study of the sources. By the same: Die Stadt Chur in ihrer ältesten Geschichte, Chur, 1859; Philipp Gallicius, 1868; Georg Jenatsch, in "Allg. Deutsche Biogr.," Bd. XIII. Georg Leonhardi (pastor in Brusio, Poschiavo): Philipp Gallicius, Reformator Graubündens. Bern, 1865 (pp. 103). The same also in Romansch.—H. G. Sulzberger (in Sevelen, St. Gallen, d. 1888): Geschichte der Reformation im Kanton Graubünden. Chur, 1880. pp. 90 (revised by Kind).—Florian Peer: L’église de Rhétie au XVIme XVIIme siècles. Genève, 1888.—Herold: J. Komander, in Meili’s Zeitschrift, Zurich, 1891.


The Christianization of the Grisons is traced back by tradition to St. Lucius, a royal prince of Britain, and Emerita, his sister, in the latter part of the second century.216216    He is identified, in the tradition of Wales, with King Lucius who introduced Christianity into Britain and built the first church at Llandaff in 180. See Alois Lütolf, Die Glaubensboten der Schweiz vor St. Gallus, Luzern, 1871, pp. 95-125. He gives from MSS. the oldest Vita S. Lucii Confessoris (pp. 115-121). A chapel on the mountain above Coire perpetuates his memory. A bishop of Coire (Asimo) appears first in the year 452, as signing by proxy the creed of Chalcedon.217217    S. Asimo was not himself at Chalcedon, 450, but authorized Abundantius, bishop of Como, to give his assent to the Chalcedon Christology at a council held at Milan in 452, as appears from the following document: "Ego Abundantius episcopus ecclesiae Comensis in omnia supra scripta pro me ac pro absente sancto fratre meo, asimone, episcopo ecclesiae curiensis primae rhaetiae, subscripsi, anathema dicens his qui de incarnationis Dominicae sacramento impie senserunt." Quoted by Eichhorn, l.c. pp. 1 and 2. The bishops of Coire acquired great possessions and became temporal princes.218218    Frederick Barbarossa gave to the bishop the title princeps, about 1170. The whole country of the Grisons stood under the jurisdiction of the bishops of Coire and Como.

The state of religion and the need of a reformation were the same as in the other cantons of Switzerland. The first impulse to the Reformation came from Zürich with which Coire had close connections. Zwingli sent an address to the "three confederacies in Rhätia," expressing a special interest in them as a former subject of the bishop of Coire, exhorting them to reform the Church in alliance with Zürich, and recommending to them his friend Comander (Jan. 16, 1525).219219    The MS. of this exhortation is in the Archives of Zürich and was first printed in Joh. Jak. Simler’s Sammlung alter und neuer Urkunden zur Beleuchtung der Kirchengeschichte (1759), vol. I. 108-114. Several of his pupils preached in Fläsch, Malans, Maienfeld, Coire, and other places as early as 1524. After his death Bullinger showed the same interest in the Grisons. The Reformation passed through the usual difficulties first with the Church of Rome, then with Anabaptists, Unitarians, and the followers of the mystical Schwenkfeld, all of whom found their way into that remote corner of the world. One of the leading Anabaptists of Zürich, Georg Blaurock, was an ex-monk of Coire, and on account of his eloquence called "the mighty Jörg," or "the second Paul." He was expelled from Zürich, and burnt by the Catholics in the Tyrol (1529).

The Reformers abolished the indulgences, the sacrifice of the mass, the worship of images, sacerdotal celibacy and concubinage, and a number of unscriptural and superstitious ceremonies, and introduced instead the Bible and Bible preaching in church and school, the holy communion in both kinds, clerical family life, and a simple evangelical piety, animated by an active faith in Christ as the only Saviour and Mediator. Where that faith is wanting the service in the barren churches is jejune and chilly.

The chief Reformers of the Grisons were Comander, Gallicius, Campell, and Vergerius, and next to them Alexander Salandronius (Salzmann), Blasius, and John Travers. The last was a learned and influential layman of the Engadin. Comander labored in the German, Gallicius and Campell in the Romansh, Vergerius in the Italian sections of the Grisons. They were Zwinglians in theology,220220    With the exception of Vergerius, who vacillated between Calvinism and Lutheranism. See below, p. 154 (§ 38). and introduced the changes of Zürich and Basel. Though occupying only a second or third rank among the Reformers, they were the right men in the right places, faithful, self-denying workers in a poor country, among an honest, industrious, liberty-loving but parsimonious people. With small means they accomplished great and permanent results.

John Comander (Dorfmann), formerly a Roman priest, of unknown antecedents, preached the Reformed doctrines in the church of St. Martin at Coire from 1524. He learned Hebrew in later years, to the injury of his eyes, that he might read the Old Testament in the original. Zwingli sent him Bibles and commentaries. The citizens protected him against violence and accompanied him to and from church. The bishop of Coire arraigned him for heresy before the Diet of the three confederacies in 1525.

The Diet, in spite of the remonstrance of the bishop, ordered a public disputation at Ilanz, the first town on the Rhine. The disputation was begun on Sunday after Epiphany, Jan. 7, 1526, under the presidency of the civil authorities, and lasted several days. It resembled the disputations of Zürich, and ended in a substantial victory of the Reformation. The conservative party was represented by the Episcopal Vicar, the abbot of St. Lucius, the deans, and a few priests and monks; the progressive party, by several young preachers, Comander, Gallicius, Blasius, Pontisella, Fabricius, and Hartmann. Sebastian Hofmeister of Schaffhausen was present as a listener, and wrote an account of the speeches.221221    His report and Comander’s conclusions are printed in Füsslin’s Beiträge zur Kirchen- und Reformationsgesch. des Schweitzerlandes, 1741, vol. I. 337-382. A fuller account is given by Campell in his Rätische Geschichte, II. 287-308 (Mohr’s German ed.).

Comander composed for the occasion eighteen theses,—an abridgment of the sixty-seven conclusions of Zwingli. The first thesis was: "The Christian Church is born of the Word of God and should abide in it, and not listen to the voice of a stranger" (John 10:4, 5). He defended this proposition with a wealth of biblical arguments which the champions of Rome were not able to refute. There was also some debate about the rock-passage in Matt. 16:18, the mass, purgatory, and sacerdotal celibacy. The Catholics brought the disputation to an abrupt close.

In the summer of the same year (June 26, 1526), the Diet of Ilanz proclaimed religious freedom, or the right of all persons in the Grisons, of both sexes, and of whatever condition or rank, to choose between the Catholic and the Reformed religion. Heretics, who after due admonition adhered to their error, were excluded and subjected to banishment (but not to death). This remarkable statute was in advance of the intolerance of the times, and forms the charter of religious freedom in the Grisons.222222    Campell, II. 309: "Die Disputation [of Ilanz] blieb nicht ohne alle Frucht. Sie hatte wenigstens dieFolge, dass ein Gesetz erlassen wurde, wonach es in den drei Bünden Jedermann, wess Standes oder Geschlechts er auch war, freigestellt wurde, nach Gutdünken zu einer der beiden Confessionem, der katholischen oder evangelischen, sich zu bekennen und an ihr festzuhalten. Hiebei wurde, unter Androhung einer angemessenen Strafe, Jedem streng untersagt, irgend Jemanden um seines Glaubens willen zu schmähen oder, sei es öffentlich oder heimlich, zu verfolgen, wie diess von der andern Partei schon oft genug geschehen war. Bei dieser Gelegenheit wurde ein altes Landesgesetz den Geistlichen aufs Neue eingeschärft, wonach selbe durchaus keine andere, als die in der h. Schrift enthaltene Lehre dem Volke vortragen sollten." [Then follows a list of the leading statesmen, John Travers, John Guler, etc., who contributed to this result.] "Mit dem nämlichen Gesetz über freie Ausübung des evangelischen Glaubens wurde die ganze Kezerei der Wiedertaufe streng untersagt und alle ihre Anhänger mit Verbannung bedroht. Die strenge Ueberwachung der erstern dieser zwei Verordnungen hatte in Bezug auf öffentliche Ruhe und Frieden zwischen beiden Confessionen äusserst wohlthätige Folgen, indem beide Theile sich lange Zeit hindurch der grössten Mässigung beflissen, hiserst in den letzten Jahren bei den katholischen Geistlichen sich abermals eine feindselige Stimmung gegen die evangelischen Prediger in Schmähungen aller Art kund gab, worüber mannigfache Klagen vor dem Beitag laut wurden."—Comp. Bullinger, I. 315; De Porta, I. 146.

The Diet of Ilanz ordered the ministers to preach nothing but what they could prove from the Scriptures, and to give themselves diligently to the study of the same. The political authority of the bishop of Coire was curtailed, appeals to him from the civil jurisdiction were forbidden, and the parishes were empowered to elect and to dismiss their own priests or pastors.223223    Campell, II. 310 sqq., gives the principal of the Twenty Articles of the Diet of Ilanz.

Thus the episcopal monarchy was abolished and congregational independency introduced, but without the distinction made by the English and American Congregationalists between the church proper, or the body of converted believers, and the congregation of hearers or mere nominal Christians.

This legislation was brought about by the aid of liberal Catholic laymen, such as John Travers and John Guler, who at that time had not yet joined the Reformed party. The strict Catholics were dissatisfied, but had to submit. In 1553 the Pope sent a delegate to Coire and demanded the introduction of the Inquisition; but Comander, Bullinger, and the French ambassador defeated the attempt.

Comander, aided by his younger colleague, Blasius, and afterwards by Gallicius, continued to maintain the Reformed faith against Papists, Anabaptists, and also against foreign pensioners who had their headquarters at Coire, and who punished him for his opposition by a reduction of his scanty salary of one hundred and twenty guilders. He was at times tempted to resign, but Bullinger urged him to hold on.224224    See his letters to Bullinger and Vadian in De Porta, I. 67, 179 sqq.; II. 278. He stood at the head of the Reformed synod till his death in 1557.

He was succeeded by Fabricius, who died of the pestilence in 1566.

Philip Gallicius (Saluz) developed a more extensive activity. He is the Reformer of the Engadin, but labored also as pastor and evangelist in Domleschg, Langwies, and Coire. He was born on the eastern frontier of Graubünden in 1504, and began to preach already in 1520. He had an irresistible eloquence and power of persuasion. When he spoke in Romansh, the people flocked from every direction to hear him. He was the chief speaker at two disputations in Süs, a town of the Lower Engadin, against the Papists (1537), and against the Anabaptists (1544).225225    A full account of the first disputation in Campell, II. 842-366. He also introduced the Reformation in Zuz in the Lower Engadin, 1554, with the aid of John Travers, a distinguished patriot, statesman, soldier, and lay-preacher, who was called "the steelclad Knight in the service of the Lord."

Gallicius suffered much persecution and poverty, but remained gentle, patient, and faithful to the end. When preaching in the Domleschg he had not even bread to feed his large family, and lived for weeks on vegetables and salt. And yet he educated a son for the ministry at Basel, and dissuaded him from accepting a lucrative offer in another calling. He also did as much as he could for the Italian refugees. He died of the pestilence with his wife and three sons at Coire, 1566.

He translated the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Ten Commandments, and several chapters of the Bible, into the Romansh language, and thus laid the foundation of the Romansh literature. He also wrote a catechism and a Latin grammar, which were printed at Coire. He prepared the Confession of Raetia, in 1552, which was afterwards superseded by the Confession of Bullinger in 1566.

Ulrich Campell (b. c. 1510, d. 1582) was pastor at Coire and at Süs, and, next to Gallicius, the chief reformer of the Engadin. He is also the first historian of Raetia and one of the founders of the religious literature in Romanic Raetia. His history is written in good Latin, and based upon personal observation, the accounts of the ancient Romans, the researches of Tschudi, and communications of Bullinger and Vadian. It begins a.d. 100 and ends about 1582.

The Romansh literature was first cultivated during the Reformation.226226    "Erst die Reformation," says Leonhardi (Philipp Gallicius, p. 87), "hat eine rhäto-romanische Literatur geschaffen. Die Mönche und Priester behaupteten, der Engadiner Dialect sei so verdorben, dass er keines schriftlichen Ausdruckes fähig sei." Gallicius, Campell, and Biveroni (Bifrun) are the founders of it. Campell prepared a metrical translation of the Psalter, with original hymns and a catechism (1562). Jacob Biveroni, a lawyer of Samaden, published a translation of Comander’s Catechism, which was printed at Poschiavo, 1552, and (with the aid of Gallicius and Campell) the entire New Testament, which appeared first in 1560 at Basel, and became the chief agency in promoting the evangelical faith in those regions. The people, who knew only the Romansh language, says a contemporary, "were amazed like the lsraelites of old at the sight of the manna."

The result of the labors of the Reformers and their successors in Graubünden was the firm establishment of an evangelical church which numbered nearly two-thirds of the population; while one-third remained Roman Catholic. This numerical relation has substantially remained to this day with some change in favor of Rome, though not by conversion, but by emigration and immigration. The two churches live peacefully together. The question of religion was decided in each community by a majority vote, like any political or local question. The principle of economy often gave the decision either for the retention of the Roman priest, or the choice of a Reformed preacher.227227    The same regard for economy inclines at this day some Roman Catholic congregations to prefer a Capuchin monk to a secular priest. So I was informed by the Archivarius of the bishop of Coire in June, 1890. Some stingy congregations remained vacant to get rid of all obligations, or hired now a priest, now a preacher for a short season. Gallicius complained to Bullinger about this independence which favored license under the name of liberty. Not unfrequently congregations are deceived by foreign adventurers who impose themselves upon them as pastors.

The democratic autonomy explains the curious phenomenon of the mixture of religion in the Grisons. The traveller may pass in a few hours through a succession of villages and churches of different creeds. At Coire the city itself is Reformed, and the Catholics with their bishop form a separate town on a hill, called the Court (of the bishop).

There is in Graubünden neither a State church nor a free church, but a people’s church.228228    A Volkskirche or Gemeindekirche, which embraces the whole civil community. Every citizen is baptized, confirmed, and a church member. Every congregation is sovereign, and elects and supports its own pastor. In 1537 a synod was constituted, which meets annually in the month of June. It consists of all the ministers and three representatives of the government, and attends to the examination and ordination of candidates, and the usual business of administration. The civil government watches over the preservation of the church property, and prevents a collision of ecclesiastical and civil legislation, but the administration of church property is in the hands of the local congregations or parishes. The Second Helvetic Confession of Bullinger was formally accepted as the creed of the Church in 1566, but has latterly gone out of use. Ministers are only required to teach the doctrines of the Bible in general conformity to the teaching of the Reformed Church. Pastors are at liberty to use any catechism they please. The cultus is very simple, and the churches are devoid of all ornament. Many pious customs prevail among the people. A Protestant college was opened at Coire in the year 1542 with Pontisella, a native of Bregaglia, as first rector, who had been gratuitously educated at Zürich by the aid of Bullinger. With the college was connected a theological seminary for the training of ministers. This was abolished in 1843,229229    The last professors of theology were Antistes Kind (my pastor), and Dr. Schirks, both able and pious men. and its funds were converted into scholarships for candidates, who now pursue their studies at Basel and Zürich or in German universities. In 1850 the Reformed college at Coire and the Catholic college of St. Lucius have been consolidated into one institution (Cantonsschule) located on a hill above Coire, near the episcopal palace.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Reformed clergy were orthodox in the sense of moderate Calvinism; in the eighteenth century Pietism and the Moravian community exerted a wholesome influence on the revival of spiritual life.230230    On this movement see Munz, Die Brüdergemeinde in Bünden, in "Der Kirclhenfreund," Basel, Nos. 19-21, 1886. Johann Baptist von Albertini (d. 1831), one of the bishops and hymnists of the Moravians, and a friend of Schleiermacher, descended from a Bünden family. In the present century about one-half of the clergy have been brought up under the influence of German Rationalism, and preach Christian morality without supernatural dogmas and miracles.

The Protestant movement in the Italian valleys of the Grisons began in the middle of the sixteenth century, but may as well be anticipated here.



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