This week is a continuation of a series on the Protestant Reformation that began 500 years ago. We're taking a look at some of the individuals that God had in place for a period of time when the Christian church went through a major upheaval. I have drawn from various sources for these e-mails but have leaned heaviest on a series of biographies called, "Here We Stand" on www.desiringgod.org website. If you are fascinated by the stories of the reformers, I'd highly recommend checking those out. They go into much more depth than I've been able to do here and cover a lot more people.
WOMEN OF THE REFORMATION II:
Wibrandis Rosenblatt has been called “the Bride of the Reformation” because she married and buried four prominent reformers in her sixty years on earth.
Wibrandis first married reformer Ludwig Keller but found herself widowed two years later at the young age of 22. The irony of her multiple marriages is that husband number 4 had recommended her to husband number three and husband number three had recommended her to husband number two. The story is as follows:
In those revolutionary years clerical marriage was becoming a new way for women to “serve the community of Christ” One of the men who argued publicly for the freedom of pastors to marry was a single man named Johannes Oecolampadius. Johannes’ friend Wolfgang Capito wrote to him, “If a suitable person is pointed out to you, I think you should not decline. To have a mate of like zeal will be a glory to the Lord.” Johannes decided that was a splendid idea and the 45 year old bachelor married Wibrandis, who was 24 years old at the time. 3 ½ years later Johannes died of blood poisoning and Wibrandis found herself a widow again.
The same month that Johannes died, Wolfgang Capito’s wife died. Wolfgang’s friend Martin Bucer decided to play matchmaker and informed Wolfgang that he had chosen Wibrandis to be his next wife. She brought her mother and four children into that marriage. Eight years later there were five more children and then the plague hit. She buried three children and her third husband that year.
News of Capito’s death reached Martin Bucer when his wife Elisabeth Bucer was close to death. Elisabeth pled with her husband and Wibrandis that they marry after she died, and they did exactly that in April 1542. Martin wrote, “There is nothing that I could desire in my new wife save that she is too attentive and solicitous. She is not as free in criticism as was my first wife. . . I only hope I can be as kind to my new wife as she is to me. But oh, the pang for the one I have lost”
Six years later they had fled to England to avoid persecution but Martin became very ill and Wibrandis nursed him almost constantly, as well as doing whatever was required for caring for the rest of her family, consisting of the children and her mother. After Martin’s death in February 1551, Wibrandis was widowed four times and was just 47 years old. She wrote numerous articulate letters to sort out their finances and moved the family back to Strasbourg. Some letters were in German, some in Latin, revealing her facility with language and languages.
She finished raising the children and never wavered from her faith and pointing her children to faith in Christ. She had a continual ministry throughout her life in encouraging other pastor’s wives in their roles. Wibrandis passed away at 60 years old when the plague again swept through the town she was living in. She served in an irreplaceable role in the reformation and we owe her a debt of gratitude for her service. Wibrandis demonstrated the powerful influence of a godly woman in a very male dominated culture.
Lord, give us more women of deep faith and conviction who influence the world they live in!