Reformation Women: Anna Reinhard
|Anna Reinhart - Huldrych Zwingli's wife (1484 - 1538)|
By Rebecca VanDoodewaard - Posted at Tabletalk Magazine:
Katharina Luther looms large in any discussion about Protestant women during the Reformation. She earned her acclaim through her work—and her high-profile, high-maintenance husband. But there were other women who also labored for the newly revived church. They, too, have much to teach us. The first woman to become a Reformer’s wife was Anna Reinhard (c. 1484–1538). Like Calvin’s wife, Idelette, Anna was a young widow when her future husband arrived in town as the new priest.
We have no record of her birthdate, but many believe it was in 1484. We know little about her youth except that she was beautiful and that a young, local nobleman—John von Knonau—wanted to marry her. His family opposed the match, so John and Anna married in secret. When the news got out, John’s father cut him off, so he joined the Swiss army to support his wife. After several campaigns, he returned in broken health and died, leaving Anna a widow with a son and a daughter.1
It was the son, Gerold, who brought his mother and Huldrych Zwingli together. Zwingli came to Zurich in late 1518, when Anna was struggling to support and train her family. From the beginning of Zwingli’s preaching ministry, she was one of his most attentive listeners. Her home was in his parish, and he came in contact with her and her children as their pastor. Gerold, in particular, came to Zwingli’s attention on account of the boy’s talents. Zwingli tutored the boy, and when Gerold needed higher education at age eleven, Zwingli sent him to Basel. Zwingli’s fatherly care for the son created a relationship with the mother, and he soon fell in love with Anna.