Last time we were celebrating the Reformation. And it’s such a great event—why just limit ourselves to one week? So let’s go back and spend some more time with the Reformation.
This week we’re going to be looking at a lady by the name of Wibrandis Rosenblatt. Now she has come to be called the bride of the Reformation. And she was German-speaking, so in German we would call her the Reformation Frau. I told you her name was Wibrandis Rosenblatt, but that was only her maiden name. Here full name is—are you ready for this?—Wibrandis Rosenblatt Keller Oecolampadius Capito Bucer. Wibrandis so loved the Reformation that she was actually married to it. She had four husbands, all of whom were significant Reformers, and all of whom died.
Wibrandis lived in the city of Basel, Switzerland, and her first husband was Ludwig Keller. They had one child, a daughter. But by the time Wibrandis was twenty-two years old, her young husband, Ludwig Keller, who was a rising star at the University of Basel and in the Reformation, died. She was left as a widow at the age of twenty-two.
She then married Johannes Oecolampadius. Now that’s a name for you. In Latin, oecolampadius means “house lamp.” And he was also one of the Reformers at Basel. He was a significant figure. In fact, it was Oecolampadius who did much work on the Old Testament—work in Hebrew. Martin Luther talked about how he owed to Oecolampadius his understanding of Hebrew, and he looked to Oecolampaidus to teach him how to best interpret the Old Testament. So Wibrandis and Oecolampadius got marrried, and they had one son, whom they named Eusebius, after the early church historian. After four years of marriage, Johannes Oecolampadius died, and Wibrandis was once again a widow.
Then she married Wolfgang Capito. He lived in Strasbourg, so she moved to Strasbourg with her two children. And then the plague came to that city. The plague first took the life of young Eusebius Oecolampadius. She and Capito had had two children of their own, and the plague took the lives of those two children. And then the plague took her husband, Capito. Once again Wibrandis found herself a widow.
She then married Martin Bucer. Martin Bucer was the great Reformer at the city of Strasbourg. But by the time we get into the late 1540s and the early 1550s, the situation and the atmosphere in Strasbourg weren’t quite as good as they had been in the previous decade. The Reformers were feeling a little bit of pressure. Meanwhile, over in England, Edward VI was on the throne and the Reformation was taking great strides in Britain. So Bucer received an invitation to go to Cambridge to be a professor there and also to pastor at a church there. And from there he would have the ability to influence all of these young students as they took the Reformation and spread it throughout the United Kingdom. So Martin Bucer and Wibrandis and the children moved across the English Channel to take up residence at Cambridge. But just after two short years at Cambridge, Martin Bucer died. Wibrandis found herself a widow for the fourth time. She took her children and moved back to her home in Basel, where she lived out the rest of her life.
In Wibrandis Rosenblatt Keller Oecolampadius Capito Bucer, we see a woman who saw her four husbands, as well as several of her children, die. We see a woman who persevered through all of these struggles. We see her supporting these great men who made a significant impact not only in these cities but also in the Reformation as a whole. Sometimes we think of the Reformers only as figures who wrote great books and presented great ideas and we forget that they were family men who had wives and children. And so we need to remember the wives and we need to remember the Reformation Frau—the bride of the Reformation.