Felix ManzFelix Manz was one of the earliest leaders of the Anabaptist movement in Switzerland. Manz was the first Anabaptist martyr in Zurich, his life taken by Protestants (followers of Zwingli). Manz was the son of an "illegitimate" Catholic priest in Zurich, Switzerland. He was well educated and became an enthusiastic evangelist who was instrumental in bringing thousands of people to faith in Jesus. During his lifetime he endured frequent persecution and numerous imprisonments. In 1526, he had been condemned to prison where he was to eat bread and drink water until he would "die and rot." At 3:00 p.m. on January 5, 1527, he was taken bound from his last imprisonment to be drowned in the cold waters of the river Limmat which flows through the city of Zurich. Last minute efforts on the part of the clergy to cause him to recant were of no avail. He could hear the supportive and encouraging voices of his mother and his brother who stood nearby on the shore. His last words were, "Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit.
Ursula of EssenIn 1569 Anabaptists, Ursula of Essen and her husband Arent, were arrested and tortured in Maastricht, Netherlands. They were caught in a reign of terror conducted by the Duke of Alva, Spanish vice-regentin charge of the occupation of the Netherlands. Ursula, Arent and two women were imprisoned, subjected to verbal threats and tortured in an effort to force them to reveal names of fellow members of their growing Anabaptist congregation. Ursula was stretched on the rack twice and then suspended by her hands and whipped with a bundle of switches. An older woman, one of the four, was not placed on the rack because of her age. All four refused to implicate any fellow believers. Each had their mouth stied shut by the executioner to prevent singing and speaking to sympathetic spectators. Each was separately cast into a hut of straw and burned to death.
Elizabeth and Lijsken Dirks[Taken from the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online] In the midst of the 16th-century patriarchal society Anabaptist women held worship services, taught the Scriptures, distributed the sacraments, were elders and prophets, went on evangelistic tours, debated with theologians -- and died for their faith. About one-third of the 930 martyrs listed in Martyrs' Mirror are women. The trial records of both the ecclesiastical and civil courts, and the letters exchanged between husbands and wives, give us the accounts of the activities of Anabaptist women. Some noteworthy women martyrs should be remembered. Elisabeth Dirks learned Latin in a convent, studied the Latin Bible and became a respected teacher before her martyrdom by drowning on Mar. 27, 1549. Lijsken Dirks exchanged letters of mutual encouragement with her husband, Jeronimus Segersz., from separate prisons in Antwerp in 1551. Both were later tortured and killed. Jeronimus wrote to Lijsken, "And though they tell you to attend to your sewing, this does not hinder us, for Christ has called us all, and commanded us to search the Scriptures, since they testify of him and Christ also said that Magdalene had chosen the better part, because she searched the Scriptures." Margarette Pruess, the daughter of a Strasbourg printer, survived her three printer husbands and became known for publishing Anabaptist works. Veronika Gross, baptized in 1525, and Anna Salminger were well-known for their evangelistic work and their contribution to the establishment of the congregation in Augsburg. Others include, Ruth Kunstel, a minister; Ruth Hagen, an elder; Argula von Grumbach, who wrote on ecclesiastical affairs; and Goetken Gerrits, a composer of hymns.
Dirk WillemsI'm sure you all know the story of Dirk Willems; at least, I hope you do if you've been reading Leaving Munster for long! Here are a few useful pieces if you'd like to re-tell the story this [i]All Saints Day[/i].
- Why Did Dirk Willems Turn Back? by Joseph Liechty
- The Illustrated Story of Dirk Willems (PDF) by Karen Stallard
- Brother Dirk and Other Stories adapted and arranged by Michael McGinnis (from Martyrs' Mirror by Thieleman J. Van Braght and others)
You might also want to check out Rightly Remembering a Martyr Heritage, which includes a possible rebuke of my attitude in the last post.