Huldrych Zwingli, Grossmünster Zurich. Photo: TES.

500 years Reformation in Zurich

Zurich is commemorating the Reformation with a range of diverse events. The Association «500 Jahre Zürcher Reformation” (500 years Zurcher Reformation) is coordinating and supporting a number of projects to commemorate the significance of the Reformation. The Association focuses on the (international) relevance , the repercussions and political and social influences that can be felt in Zurich, the (old) Confederation and beyond. The Zurcher Reformation gave rise to three church denominations: Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist. It also became the birthplace of the Evangelical Free Church.

The Beginning of the Reformation in Zurich has always been regarded the year 1519, when Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) took office as parish priest of the Grossmünster. Independently of Martin Luther, Zwingli found his own way to the fundamental principles of Reformation. He preached not only the message of Christ and he not only targeted the Roman Catholic Church and its theology, but also condemned the practice of the hiring of Swiss mercenaries to foreign countries. The Zurich council finally arranged a public disputation of Zwingli’s teachings on 29 January 1523 and the result was that the council took over religious authority from the Roman Catholic Church and assumed responsibility for the implementation of the Reformation.

Bern joined the Reformation in 1528 and in 1529 Basel and Schaffhausen followed suit. There were also successful Reformation movements in other cantons and areas jointly ruled by the Old Swiss Confederacy, other cantons violently opposed the Reformation however. This led to armed conflicts, the Battle of Kappel in 1531 and the death of Zwingli. His successor Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575) successfully institutionalised the reformed Church, but the religious rift in the Swiss Confederacy lasted for centuries and was not over until 1848, including a last armed conflict on Swiss territory in 1847. (Source and futher information: