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Felix Manz

Felix Manz

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Felix Manz was a co-founder of the original Swiss Brethren
Swiss Brethren
The Swiss Brethren are a branch of Anabaptism that started in Zürich, spread to nearby cities and towns, and then was exported to neighboring countries...

 Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 congregation in Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and the first martyr of the Radical Reformation
Radical Reformation
The Radical Reformation was a 16th century response to what was believed to be both the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland, the Radical Reformation birthed many radical...

.

Birth and life



Manz was the son of a canon of Grossmünster
Grossmünster
The Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style church in Zurich, Switzerland. It is one of the three major churches in the city . The core of the present building near the banks of the Limmat River was constructed on the site of a Carolingian church, which was, according to legend, originally commissioned...

 church in Zürich. Though records of his education are scant, there is evidence that he had a liberal education, with a thorough knowledge of Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew language
Biblical Hebrew , also called Classical Hebrew , is the archaic form of the Hebrew language, a Canaanite Semitic language spoken in the area known as Canaan between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Biblical Hebrew is attested from about the 10th century BCE, and persisted through...

, Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Manz became a follower of Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

 after he came to Zürich in 1519. When Conrad Grebel
Conrad Grebel
Conrad Grebel , son of a prominent Swiss merchant and councilman, was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement and is often called the "Father of Anabaptists".-Early life:...

 joined the group in 1521, he and Manz became friends. They questioned the mass, the nature of church and state connections, and infant baptism. After the Second Disputation of Zürich
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

 in 1523, they became dissatisfied, believing that Zwingli's plans for reform had been compromised with the city council.

Grebel, Manz and others made several attempts to plead their position. Several parents refused to have their children baptized. A public disputation was held with Zwingli on 17 January 1525. The council declared Zwingli the victor.

After the final rebuff by the city council on 18 January, in which they were ordered to desist from arguing and submit to the decision of the council, and have their children baptized within eight days, the brethren gathered at the home of Felix Manz and his mother on 21 January. Conrad Grebel baptized George Blaurock
George Blaurock
Jörg vom Haus Jacob , commonly known as George Blaurock , with Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, was co-founder of the Swiss Brethren in Zürich, and thereby one of the founders of Anabaptism.George Blaurock was born in 1491 in Bonaduz in the Grisons, Switzerland...

, and Blaurock in turn baptized the others. This made complete the break with Zwingli and the council, and formed the first church of the Radical Reformation. The movement spread rapidly, and Manz was very active in it. He used his language skills to translate his texts into the language of the people, and worked enthusiastically as an evangelist. Manz was arrested on a number of occasions between 1525 and 1527. While he was preaching with George Blaurock in the Grüningen region, they were taken by surprise, arrested and imprisoned in Zürich at the Wellenburg prison.

Execution



On 7 March 1526, the Zürich council had passed an edict that made adult re-baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 punishable by drowning
Drowning
Drowning is death from asphyxia due to suffocation caused by water entering the lungs and preventing the absorption of oxygen leading to cerebral hypoxia....

. On 5 January 1527, Felix Manz became the first casualty of the edict, and the first Swiss Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 to be martyred at the hands of other Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

s. While Manz stated that he wished "to bring together those who were willing to accept Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

, obey the Word, and follow in His footsteps, to unite with these by baptism, and to leave the rest in their present conviction"
, Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

 and the council accused him of obstinately refusing "to recede from his error and caprice". At 3:00 p.m., as he was led from the Wellenburg to a boat, he praised God and preached to the people. A Reformed minister went along, seeking to silence him, and hoping to give him an opportunity to recant. Manz's brother and mother encouraged him to stand firm and suffer for Jesus' sake. He was taken by boat onto the River Limmat
Limmat
The Limmat is a river in Switzerland. It is the continuation of the Linth river, known as Limmat from the point of effluence from Lake Zurich, in the city of Zurich. From Zurich it flows in a northwesterly direction, after 35 km reaching the river Aare...

. His hands were bound and pulled behind his knees and a pole was placed between them. He was executed by drowning in Lake Zürich
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is a lake in Switzerland, extending southeast of the city of Zurich. It is also known as Lake Zürich and Lake of Zürich. It lies approximately at co-ordinates ....

 on the Limmat. His alleged last words were, "Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit." His property was confiscated by government of Zürich, and he was buried in the St. Jakobs cemetery.

Felix Manz left written testimony of his faith, an eighteen-stanza hymn, and was apparently the author of Protestation und Schutzschrift (a defense of Anabaptism presented to the Zürich council).

Hymn


An 18-stanza hymn by Manz has been preserved and is found in the Ausbund
Ausbund
The Ausbund is the oldest Anabaptist hymnal and one of the oldest Christian song books in continuous use. It is used today by North American Amish congregations.-History:...

, a 16th-century hymn book still used by the Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

. It is a hymn of praise to God for his great salvation. The seven lines of the first stanza are found below.
Deutsch English
  1. Mit Lust so will ich singen
  2. Mein Herz freut sich in Gott
  3. Der mir viel Kunst thut bringen,
  4. Dasz ich entrinn dem Tod
  5. Der ewiglich nimmet kein End.
  6. Ich preiz dich Christ vom Himmel,
  7. Der mir mein Kummer wend.
  • With gladness will I now sing;
  • My heart delights in God,
  • Who showed me such forbearance
  • That I from death was saved
  • Which never hath an end.
  • I praise Thee, Christ in heaven
  • Who all my sorrow changed.

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