Ulrich Zwingli


About Zwingli

Zwingli was born in 1484. He is the 3rd of 8 children. He attended universities at Basel and Vienna and served as a parish priest in Glarus, Switzerland and later in Einsiedeln. His humanistic studies, beginning in the university where he studied for the priesthood, led him to study Greek and read the classics and the Fathers of the Church.

Role in Reformation

Zwingli became the pastor of the Grossmunster in Zurich in 1518 where he started to preach ideas of reform. He started to attack the custom of fasting during Lent in 1522. Some things he opposed were corruption in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, he promoted clerical marriage, and opposed the use of images in places of worship. He was able to lead Reformation to other parts of the Swiss Confederation. A war almost broke out in 1529 between cantons that wanted to stay Catholic and cantons that wanted reform. He once met with Martin Luther and other reformers at the Mark-burg Colloquy where they agreed on many parts. However, they could not reach an accord on the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ within the Eucharist. Zwingli also tried to suppress the Mass and replace it with something else.
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Major Teachings & reasons

While serving as a priest in Zurich, he fell into sins against priestly celibacy (like many Renaissance-era clerics), and before long converted many of the faithful to his increasingly anti-Catholic views on Church-state relations, the veneration of the saints, the removal of images, good works, and the Sacraments. he used the state to seize Church property, suppress the Mass and Sacraments such as Penance and Anointing of the Sick, destroy images, statues, relics, altars, and organs, and melt down chalices and monstrances into coins. His teachings were strongly influenced by other reformers like Martin Luther and he was greatly influenced by other humanists such as Heinrich Loriti, Erasmus, and Vadian.

His teachings vs. Early church teachings

Ulrich was against the Catholic Church in many ways. Ulrich believed that the sacraments were simple external signs. Ulrich was strong on his belief on baptism. His belief was that baptism itself did not wash away any sins but was a community act of accepting someone into the Church. This is completely wrong in what the Church sees. The Church believes that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ unlike Zwingli who believes that it is merely a representation. The Church also sees Baptism as washing away one's sin.


As the head of both government and church in Zurich, Zwingli was able to establish and stabilize the Reformation during his lifetime. His insistence that the Bible, not the church, was the source of Christian truth made him a major force in the Protestant Reformation that swept Europe in the 16th century. Many of his teachings were logical because there was much corruption and confusion in the church at this time.