Christian Cyclopedia

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(Swiss Confederation). 1. Area: ca. 15,900 sq. mi. Official languages: Ger. 65%, Fr. 18%, It. 9%, Rhaeto-Romance 1%. Religions: RC 48%, Prot. 44%.

Christianity first reached Switzerland in the 3d or 4th c. By the end of the 15th c. Switz. was RC. See also Gall; Meinrad; Nicholas of Flüe; Notker; Ratpert.

2. The Swiss Reformation is often dated from 1516, when H. Zwingli* became priest at Einsiedeln (see Meinrad). He became priest Zurich 1518; the Reformation there was practically complete 1525. See also 3.

Another segment of the Swiss Reformation began with the work of B. Haller,* who became active in Bern at least as early as 1518. The Reformation in Bern progressed rapidly after the disputation at Baden 1526 (on the real presence, sacrifice of the mass, invocation of Mary and other saints, and on images, purgatory, and original sin; J. Eck* represented RCs; Haller and J. Oecolampadius* represented Prots.; RCs claimed victory, but reaction to RC measures gave impetus to Protestantism). This segment ends ca. 1531 with the death of Zwingli and defeat of Prots. at Kappel. See also 4.

The next period centers in Geneva, begins with the arrival there of G. Farel* 1532, and ends with the death of J. Calvin* 1564. See also 5.

Then follows a period of increased RC-Prot. tension and of Prot. consolidation under leadership of J. H. Bullinger* in Zurich and T. Beza* in Geneva. See also 5.

3. The Reformation reached Appenzell and Schaffhausen ca. 1521. Erasmus* est. 1522 that ca. 200,000 “abhorred the see of Rome” in Switz.. The Council of Zurich required 1523 that “the pastors of Zurich should rest their discourses on the words of Scripture alone.” Abolition of images in chs. soon followed; the clergy was no longer forbidden to marry; the mass was replaced 1525 by the simple ordinance of the Lord's Supper.

4. Five RC cantons (Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug) banded together 1524 against Zurich and the Reformation; these 5 were joined 1528 by Fribourg and Solothurn. Zurich and Bern decided May 1531 to blockade the RC cantons; the blockade was supported by the bailiwicks of St. Gall, Toggenburg, Sargans, and the Rheinthal; Zwingli protested. The RC cantons took to arms. Zwingli rode to battle with the Zurichers but used no weapons. He was killed and the Zurichers defeated at Kappel October 11, 1531.

5. Farel, who came to Geneva early in October 1532, was banished almost immediately, but recalled early 1534. The city council proclaimed adherence to the Reformation 1535. Calvin came to Geneva 1536, was banished with Farel 1538, returned to Geneva early 1541, after favorable conditions had been restored. See also 2; Calvin, John; Farel, Guillaume.

RC reaction set in after 1564 and long seemed to predominate. RC-Prot. strife became more open toward the end of the 17th c. and intensified early in the 18th century. Prots. gained a decisive victory 1712 at Villmergen, Aargau canton, N Switz.. See also 2.

6. Switz. is more than 50% Prot., more than 40% RC. There is complete freedom of worship. Non-RC Christian groups include Cantonal Ref. Chs., Meths., Seventh-day Adventists, Luths., Mennonites, Apostolic Ch., Baps., Old Caths., Moravians. Jews: perhaps ca. .6% of the pop. A Luth. cong. was organized at Geneva 1707, Zurich 1891; related groups were est. at Basel, Bern, Davos, Lausanne, St. Gall.

See also Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, The; Reformed Churches, 1; Reformed Confessions, A.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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