Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Schwarzenau - part 2

The name, Schwarzenau, where the Brethren began in Europe was first mentioned in the year 1059. It was then not a village but the seat or home of a nobleman. Later about his home grew up a village which has continued to this day. In those days there was only the Catholic Church. In the 1059 the ruling Archbishop of Mainz gave permission for masses to be held here and for babies to be baptized. This ruling was made because for many, many miles about Schwarzenau there was no church. A priest came to care for these services. The community suffered much from the plaques that occurred in the period 1100-1300; therefore the place is not mentioned again for some time.

Sometime between 1550-1600 the Count of Wittgenstein built a beautiful summer residence on the Eder River. The Counts of Wittgenstein joined the Protestant movement and the community around Schwartzenau came into the reform movement. The ruling count issued a call for all the people to live Christian lives, to read their Bibles, and not forget to pray. This community became an ideal spot for many people who could no longer submit to a very formal religion that did not satisfy their religious longings.

Among those who came to Schwarzenau were Alexander Mack and Hochmann of Hochenau. They led in many discussions over the matter of relationship to the established church and Christianity of the day. In many things they agreed but Hochmann would not go along with the founding of a new church. Alexander Mack and seven others after much study and prayer, came to the conclusion that they must form a new organization. In 1708 these eight were baptized in the river Eder.

Source: Schwarzenau: Yesterday and Today, Lawrence W. Shultz (1954)