Affair of the Sausages

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Relief above the Grossmünster in Zurich, reading: "In this House of God, Huldrych Zwingli's Reformation took its start."

The Affair of the Sausages (1522) was the event that sparked the Reformation in Switzerland. Ulrich Zwingli, pastor of Grossmünster in Zurich, Switzerland, spearheaded the event by publicly speaking in favor of eating sausage during the Lenten fast. Zwingli defended this action in a sermon called Von Erkiesen und Freiheit der Speisen (Regarding the Choice and Freedom of Foods), in which he argued, from the basis of Martin Luther's doctrine of Sola Scriptura, that "Christians are free to fast or not to fast because the Bible does not prohibit the eating of meat during Lent."[1]


Ulrich Zwingli was a pastor in Zurich, who was dedicated to the Reformation ideology of Martin Luther.[1] His first rift with the established religious authorities in Switzerland came during the Lenten fast of 1522, when he was present during the eating of sausages at the house of Christoph Froschauer, a printer in the city.[2]

According to William Roscoe Estep, Zwingli had already held his convictions for some time before the incident.[3] In March of 1522, he was invited to partake of the sausage supper that Froschauer served to his workers, who were exhausted from putting out the new edition of The Epistles of Saint Paul. Because the eating of meat during Lent was prohibited, the event caused public outcry, which led Froschauer to be arrested.[4]

Though he himself did not eat the sausages, Zwingli was quick to defend Froschauer from allegations of heresy. In a sermon titled Von Erkiesen und Freiheit der Speisen (Regarding the Choice and Freedom of Foods), Zwingli argued that fasting should be entirely voluntary, not mandatory. According to Michael Reeves, Zwingli was advancing the Reformation position that Lent was subject to individual rule, rather than the discipline which was upheld at the time by the Catholic Church.


After hearing of this indictment, Hugo von Hohenlandenberg, the Bishop of Konstanz, was so scandalized by Zwingli's preaching that he called for a mandate prohibiting the preaching of any Reformation doctrine in Switzerland.[3] However, the damage had already been done, and Zwingli went on to become an extremely popular and revered figure in Swiss Protestantism, having contracted and recovered from the Black plague and drawn up sixty-seven theses (similar to Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses) that denounce several long-standing beliefs of the Church of Rome.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lindberg, Carter (July 2009). The European Reformations. John Wiley and Sons. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-4051-8068-9. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Fluri, Adolf (24 January 2012). "Froschauer, Christoph (d. 1564)". The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. GAMEO. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Estep, William Roscoe (1986). Renaissance and Reformation. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-8028-0050-3. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Tucker, Ruth A. (16 August 2011). Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church. Zondervan. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-310-20638-5. Retrieved 16 January 2012.