Reformation in Switzerland

Just like in other European countries, the Reformation in Switzerland took place in the 16th century. This was the showdown against the Catholic Church, when the first reformists Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) from Zurich and subsequently Jean Calvin (1509-1564) from Geneva set new standards in Switzerland.

Ulrich Zwingli from Zurich
In 1518, Zwingli was elected as a pastor in Zurich and in early 1520 he pushed through the Reformation and received great support. The reformation would also result in his death as he fell on the battlefield during a confrontation with the last Catholic cantons. The Reformation was spreading, and except for five cantons, everyone chose to convert to the reformed religion/Protestantism and the reformed church.

What were the effects of the Reformation in Switzerland?
The reformation meant big changes in the church life. First, the church’s assets (properties) were seized while the Bible was translated into German and the church’s rituals were reduced. The reformation turned towards the worship of saints, fast days, requiem, celibacy and everything else that was considered Catholic customs, and instead favoured the preaching in German.

Prosperity in Switzerland
The second reformer Calvin pushed further towards the Reformation, especially in 1541, where he for the second time were brought to Geneva for realising his theory into practice. Calvin had the opinion that hard work, diligence, frugality and disciplined lifestyle were rewarded by God with prosperity. This philosophical attitude is designated as one of the cornerstones of modern “Kapitalismus” (capitalism). An attitude that still characterizes many Swiss people.

Good education in Switzerland
Calvin’s theory is based primarily on having a good education. Especially vocational education, art, as well as craft and trade. Thus, Geneva experienced a large influence from the “sacred”. Some found the development ridicule while others were thrilled. For a time, Geneva went under the nickname “Hieropolis”, i.e. the holy city.

Calvin’s movement is in public speech called Calvinismus and the above theological development originated from Geneva. Calvin’s theory reformed USA, Canada, Australia and much of Europe especially Switzerland, the Netherlands and England/Scotland, among others.