1527 – On this day, the Swiss Anabaptist reformer Felix Manz was drowned in punishment for preaching adult (re-)baptism by immersion at the age of 29 in the year 1527. In other words, he was drowned because he believed that only adults should be baptised by fully immersing them in water. Amazing. Manz’s death made him the first Protestant in history to be martyred at the hands of other Protestants. Wikipedia’s account of his death follows.
On 7 March 1526, the Zürich council had passed an edict that made adult re-baptism punishable by drowning. On 5 January 1527, Felix Manz became the first casualty of the edict, and the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of other Protestants. While Manz stated that he wished “to bring together those who were willing to accept Christ, obey the Word, and follow in His footsteps, to unite with these by baptism, and to leave the rest in their present conviction”, Zwingli and the council accused him of obstinately refusing “to recede from his error and caprice”. At 3:00 p.m., as he was led from the Wellenburg to a boat, he praised God and preached to the people. A Reformed priest went along, seeking to silence him, and hoping to give him an opportunity to recant. Manz’ brother and mother encouraged him to stand firm and suffer for Jesus’ sake. He was taken by boat onto the River Limmat. His hands were bound and pulled behind his knees and a pole was placed between them. He was executed by drowning in Lake Zürich on the Limmat. His alleged last words were, “Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit.” His property was confiscated by government of Zürich, and he was buried in the St. Jakobs cemetery.
Felix Manz left written testimony of his faith, an eighteen-stanza hymn, and was apparently the author of Protestation und Schutzschrift (a defense of Anabaptism presented to the Zürich council).
Two verses of his hymn “I Sing with Exultation,” translated by Marion Wenger, 1966, and found in The Mennonite Hymnal, 1969 follow.
I sing with exultation,
all my heart’s delight
is God who brings salvation,
frees from death’s dread might.
I praise thee, Christ of heaven,
who ever shall endure,
who takes away my sorrow,
keeps me safe and secure.
Sing praise to Christ our Savior,
who, in grace inclined,
to us reveals his nature:
patient, loving, kind.
His love divine outpouring,
displayed to everyone,
is fashioned like his Father’s
as no other has done.
1925 - Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the Governor of Wyoming, the 1st woman governor in the United States.
1932 - Umberto Eco, the author of many books, including “The Name of the Rose,” is born. A few quotes from him follow.
“Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.”
“What is love? There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing. Nothing exists that so fills and binds the heart as love does. Therefore, unless you have those weapons that subdue it, the soul plunges through love into an immense abyss.” from “In the Name of the Rose”
“It is necessary to meditate early, and often, on the art of dying to succeed later in doing it properly just once.” from “The Island of the Day Before”
1949 - Peter Marshall, the chaplain of the U. S. Senate, prays these words in his invocation for the day: “Our Father in heaven, give us the long view of our work and our world. Help us to see that it is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”