The Grossmünster

The Grossmünster

One of the first places we visited in Switzerland was Zurich. Although Zurich has a lot of attractions for the average visitor; we were interested in the religious history of the place. The Anabaptist heritage to some degree is rooted here in Zurich and especially in the Grossmünster.  Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) was a leader of the reformation in Switzerland. In 1518 he became pastor of the Grossmünster and began preaching on ideas of reforming the Catholic church. By 1525 he had replaced the Catholic Mass with a new communion liturgy.  It was along this time that some of his parishioners broke away from him and formed what would be know as the Anabaptists today. The Grossmünster or “Great Minister” or “Great Cathedral” is a very interesting building. Construction was started around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. It was built on the site of an earlier church that had been commissioned by Charlemagne.  It is built on the banks of the Limmat River and it is distinguished by its twin towers. I wanted to show you more pictures of the Grossmünster and Zurich and the area where it is.   Here you can see the Grossmünster from the Rathaus Bridge over the Limmat River. The Rathaus is the building on the foreground left; built partially over the river and the Rathaus Bridge is part of that construction.       When you look at the larger version of either picture by clicking on it, you can get a better view of the double wide doors and the panels that are part of it.  There is a lot of history...
Art or Not — We Observe Art in Zurich

Art or Not — We Observe Art in Zurich

The scene here is along the Limmat River. This is the other side of the river as seen from the side where the plaque is that commemorates the drownings of early Anabaptist reformers. And the Grossmunster is in the background on the right.   But I wanted to show you some art. Yes.  The crane. The crane is a work of art on loan from the German government. I had seen the crane when we first arrived at the river, as seen from this photo. I could envision a day and time when the crane was used to unload freight from barges that had come down the river from Lake Zurich which is just ahead in this photo.  And it was still there, a part of history, a part of the story of Zurich. I asked someone about the crane. They got a funny look and called it, “Oh, that controversial piece of art. It has sparked a lot of conversation.”   It is on loan from the German government. It had been a working crane for over 50 years in Rostock in Germany. Artist and writer Jan Morganthaler said, “The crane is meant to bring a feeling of the sea – and a sense of freedom – to landlocked Zurich.” Follow this link  to read more about it....
We Visit Mont-Prevoir

We Visit Mont-Prevoir

As you drive up the long driveway in the Jura Mountains in southern France up to the Graber Ancestral home at Mont-Prevoir; this is your first view. It is also the view that my uncle Ora Graber had put in his book, The Graber Immigrants 1650-1984. The place is currently a working dairy farm. The house is on the left and the barn right past it. On the left you can see an older building which is the first house Peter Graber(1745-1805) had built when he moved to this farm on the top of the mountain which he called Mont-Prevoir. In the photo you can see two of the current residents children; Leanna and Noah. Not sure of the spelling as this is in France and I am not good with French. A Graber cousin Stefan Graber was our guide and he was our interpreter.  When I showed the current owner and his children the book and the pictures in it, they were excited. They had no idea their farm was that famous.  They did, however say, that a few years ago some Amish people visited there but they had no idea what they wanted or why they came. Joseph wrote an earlier post about this area and posted some of the pictures from the Graber book. Read that here. This is a closeup of the front side of the house Peter Graber built when he first moved his family from Audincourt to Mont-Prevoir. The present owner said there used to be another room on this end of the house but it was bad and had been removed. There...
Hans Haslebacher

Hans Haslebacher

Hans Haslebacher was born near Sumiswald around 1500 and lived in this house which is not far from there in Kleinegg. Direct descendants of him still live in the house today and run the farm and dairy at that location. If you are Amish, Ex-Amish or are familiar with Anabaptist history, this name should ring a bell.  There is a long hymn in the Ausbund telling about this Anabaptist. The Amish still sing that song to this day. Hans was a farmer and preacher and travelled around the Emmental encouraging believers. He was imprisoned several times and spent quite a bit of time in Castle Trachselwald. At his death, when he was beheaded in Bern, he told the executioner and the crowd that had gathered that his head would jump into his hat and laugh, the sun would turn blood red and the city well would sweat blood.   He laid his big hat in front of him.  Everything happened as he had said it would.   The song says that the executioner and the crowd was so touched that they quit killing the Taufer (Anabaptists). Haslebacher was the last public execution in Bern. Persecution would continue on for quite some time and would include imprisonment, banishment and other forms of harassment.   This is Gerechtigkeitsgasse, an important street in Bern. This photo was taken while standing in the intersection of Gerechtigkeitsgasse and Kreuzgasse. The Rathaus (courthouse) is a block to the right. After being condemned to death in the Rathaus many prisoners were executed at this intersection. It is believed that Hans Haslebacher may have been executed here. We know...
Hinterhütten — Anabaptist Hiding Place

Hinterhütten — Anabaptist Hiding Place

There is a farmhouse on up the mountain from Trub, Switzerland that provided a hiding place for Anabaptists in that area. We drove on past Trub and Fankhaus and kept going up the mountain. Finally we reached this little farm. The building is typical for Switzerland as the house and the barn are in the same building. There are more buildings on the property. The couple who lives there now have three children. Their ancestors owned this place and they are the ones who helped Anabaptists to hide from the Bernese authorities. The hiding place is described below. But this farm is also very close to the edge of Canton Bern and by running on up the hill behind the farm and crossing the line into Canton Lucerne. Authorities from Canton Bern were not allowed to cross the line into the next canton so it provided a safe place for people to escape. This hiding place is unique. There is a new floor in place now to use as this is a working dairy farm. You see the long planks. One of them was hinged and when you jumped onto it, you would lowered into a small compartment below from which you would block the plank from coming down on whoever was chasing you. The description says that people would run in the barn over hay and suddenly disappear and the authorities could not find them even though they searched the whole building. There used to be a large smokehouse in the building and there were rooms constructed of heavy planks in which meat was hanging. This room was...
Trub — Another Beautiful Place

Trub — Another Beautiful Place

We drove past Trub on the way to Hinterhütten and on the way back we stopped to look around, shoot some footage and eat a bite of lunch.  As with most of the villages, the church here is in the center of the village.  It is a Reformed State Church which seems to be very common in Switzerland today. Someone pointed out to us that if there is a cross on top of the steeple, then it is a Catholic Church. I stepped into the sanctuary and snapped this photo. It is simple and yet beautiful inside.  The pastor will preach, not from the pulpit but from the place there on the left side just ahead of the pews. He ascends to the place using the stairs right there. It would give new meaning to the expression, “Preaching down at your people.” The cemetery was down the hill and this view is from the street in front of the church. We checked for any Graber names in the cemetery but didn’t spot any.  This appears to be the new cemetery. Don’t know where the old cemetery is.  Anabaptists lived in this area (this is close to Hinterhütten. I found it very interesting that there are signs like this throughout the village that tell little bits about the Anabaptist history of this place. They are sponsored by the Reformed State Church at Trub. Click on the image and it might be a bit easier to read.  The sign is in German, English and French.   About 1709 the Pastor from Trub presented to the provincial government in Trachselwald that Trub...