How Much Zwingli Is in Our Heads?
Religious revolution and cultural division: What began with Martin Luther’s criticism of indulgences ended in a religious schism in Western Christendom. We asked eight students and doctoral candidates how much “Zwingli” is still a part of their thinking and what what Zwingli signifies for them.
Portraits by: Marc Latzel
"Zwingli wasn’t a hero, and he wasn’t interested in personal glory. He wanted to serve the community in line with Christ’s teachings. The relationship to God and to other human beings is a strong component in my own theological thinking."
Michael Goldberg (23) is studying theology.
"I have great respect for Zwingli’s socio-ethical way of thinking. Placing the common good above personal interests – one of Zwingli’s tenets that has retained its validity to the present day."
Judith Engler (26) is writing her PhD thesis on the history of the Reformation.
"To my mind, Zwingli is probably the most important figure in Swiss history. He is a role model because, as a realist and a pragmatist, he generally rated practical action higher than theoretical reasoning."
Dario Jablanovic (30) is studying history and German philology.
"When we were visiting the cathedral in Florence, my mother looked at all the finery and said: "What would Zwingli say!" And that is precisely what Zwingli means to me: A historical yet still-present taskmaster and an affectionately scoffed-at, fatherly mascot in one."
Selina Stokar (23) is studying history and Latin.
"My understanding of Zwingli is double-edged: A charismatic minister who fearlessly defended a direct relationship between believers and God, yet a man who claimed to have not eaten the legendary sausage and who secretly married."
Nicole Frey Mathys (47) is studying art history and modern history.
"I have great respect for Zwingli’s hunger for knowledge, his independent and critical thinking and, above all, his integrity. He was committed to his faith even in the most difficult situations, and he was ready to bear the consequences of his actions."
Nina Beerli (31) is an ordained minister and works as a teaching and research assistant and doctoral candidate in the field of the Old Testament.
"My Zwingli sought truth. He gave (up) everything for truth. Whoever in today’s post-truth era isn’t satisfied with alternative facts will find a strong ally in such a figure."
Pierrick Hildebrand (32) is a doctoral candidate and teaching and research assistant at the Swiss Reformation Studies Institute.
"Zwingli was a visionary man. As a social critic, he worked toward achieving a communal way of life that is characterized by solidarity, justice, and peace."
Mona Velinsky (32) is studying theology with a concentration in ecclesiastical history.
The Role Model
Protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli in Hans Asper’s famous portrait (approx. 1531, Kunstmuseum Winterthur). Photographer Marc Latzel, from Zurich, took Asper’s Zwingli profile painting as an inspiration to create striking portraits of UZH students and doctoral candidates.