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Of milk soup and a rescued statue of the Virgin Mary

On the traces of the Reformation in Switzerland

Renate Meyer guides visitors around the birthplace of the Swiss Theologian and Reformer Ulrich (Huldrych) Zwingli in Wildhaus in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. (Photo: epd-bild/Hans-Christian Roestel)

In Switzerland as well, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is commemorated: Here it was Calvin and Zwingli who inspired the spirit of the Reformation: There is a lot to discover in many places.

Milk, a bit of salt, nutmeg, a bay leaf, a clove, in addition egg yolk, cream, bread and a bit of butter – a good handful of ingredients, that’s all what is needed for the “milk soup of Kapell”. It is also significant to eat together from the same bowl. Only the bread cubes remain on one’s side.

With this receipt we are right in the middle of the search for traces of the Swiss Ulrich (Huldrych) Zwingli (1484–1531), who like the later John (Jean) Calvin (1509–1564) spread the reformatory thoughts of Martin Luther among the Swiss confederates in the 16th century.

Zwingli was ordained priest at the age of 22

After his education, Zwingli received his priestly ordination at the age of 22. In Zurich he worked as a preacher at the Grossmünster (cathedral), as a social reformer and politician and launched the Reformation in Zurich, which, after 1523 achieved its breakthrough in German-speaking Switzerland – with the exception of the cantons of Central Switzerland.

Zwingli died during the Second Kappel war on the Albis, which broke out because of the successes of the Protestant movement. “500 years of Reformation” are therefore an important topic in Switzerland as well and are treated differently.  The recipe of the milk soup is only a small detail of the exhibition on Zwinglis career as a Theologian and his influence on the reformatory movement.

The Grossmünster, a protestant-reformed church in the old town of Zurich. Zwingli acted here as a preacher. (Photo: epd-bild/Gion Pfander)

The exhibition at the Zwingli centre in Toggenburg forms part of the memory of the Reformer at his birth place Wildhaus. It is dedicated to the life and work of Zwingli, the Zurich Reformation and the genealogical research.

Zwingli’s birthplace was built around 1450 by his father, a merchant, with an elaborate woodframe structure and is equipped with a large storage room. Today it is a museum and is lovingly cared for, even if it is in part rather sparsely furnished – it fits the personality of Zwingli and looks impressive.

“The father's trade journeys led him as far as Lombardy. It was large family with many children, in some instances more than 13 persons lived here”, explains Renate Meyer during the tour. The house was saved in 1848 thanks to the Zwinglian society Wildhaus-Alt St. Johann and the Zurich Zwingli society. Aside from the architecture of spruce wood and carvings at the ceilings, Bible editions can also be admired, among them a facsimile edition of the Zurich Bible of 1531.

Simple communion vessels illustrate Zwingli’s puristic ideas

Moreover, simple liturgical communion vessels – cups and bowls made out of wood – illustrate the puristic ideas of Zwingli, oriented simply towards the word of the Bible. Since last year, a historical garden with herbs and vegetables has been created. Change of location: The city of Chur is an important trading and railway hub in the Southeast of Switzerland, then and now a bishop's see and capital of the canton of Grisons. The old towns with its many alleys, shops and restaurants may also be explored from the point of view of Church History, historical-classical or scenic in costumes with a city guide like Peter Laube, the former tourism director.

The Helferei is one of the buildings of the ensemble of the Grossmünster in Zurich. It became important as the residence of the Reformer Ulrich Zwingli. The chamber of Zwingli, displayed on this picture on the 1st floor belonged then to his apartment, in which he lived with his family. (Photo: epd-bild/Gion Pfander)

John (Johannes) Comander (1484-1557) in particular is important for the Reformation in Chur. “Student years spent together in Basel tied him to Zwingli, in 1523 he was appointed to the Church of St. Martin in Chur and joined the reformatory movement shortly thereafter, reports Laube.

That in the Three Leagues – the Grey League, the League of the Ten Jurisdictions and the League of God’s House, the nucleus of today's canton – a perceptible will to reform the ecclesiastical order and began to be articulated with the participation of secular political authorities can also be seen in Ilanz, the “City of the Reformation”.

Reformation with the participation of secular political authorities

In Ilanz, Marianne Fischbacher, curator of the local Museum Regiunal Surselva waits for us at the town hall, above Landsgemeinde Square. “Here is the starting point of a walk around the town on local and reformation history”. Here, Comander defended his reformed faith in 1526 in a disputation. The “Articles of Ilanz” (1524 and 1526) then paved the way for the Reformation, first by isolating the bishop of Chur from the secular power, then by gaining the right to freely choose and  dismiss the priests.

The tour includes twelve stations along the reformed Church of St. Margarethen with its ceiling paintings of the renaissance and the regional museum. There, a special exhibition “The cross or the rooster” on the events of the Reformation era and the coexistence of the confessions will be on display until Easter 2018.

Displayed are photos and exhibits, like a statue of the Virgin Mary, which, according to a legend was thrown around 1530 by the reformed inhabitants of Duvin into the valley and saved from the waters of the creek Glenner by catholic inhabitants of Peiden. There is a lot to discover on the traces of the Reformation in Switzerland.

 

Information

Source:epd Date:15-08-17
Keywords:
anniversary of the Reformation, Switzerland, Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, Chur, Ilanz

John Calvin

Next to Martin Luther, John Calvin is considered the most influential reformer. Until today, Calvinism is one of the most widespread streams of Protestant faith.

Ulrich Zwingli

Encouraged by the success of the Wittenberg reformers, Zwingli publicly criticised the Roman -Catholic church. After 1529 he began to promote more radical changes. Zwingli died as preacher with the troops, sword in hand.