Melander, Dionysius (1486-1561)
Dionysius Melander was appointed with Bernhard Algesheimer by the city council of Frankfurt, Germany, as the first Protestant preachers, under the pressure of the uprising of the citizens on 20 April 1526. For a decade the two preachers were very successful and influential, since they had the guilds on their side. "What the preachers ordered was done," writes Scheffers Kreinchen in a contemporary chronicle (Dechent, 125). This was demonstrated in the first of a long series of requests presented to the city council concerning the Anabaptists. When Anabaptists began to preach outside the city walls in 1528, the two pastors demanded that the council suppress them; the council complied with the edict of 24 March, 1528, which forbade giving them shelter or lodging. This position was still in force in 1704, for when some Mennonite refugees from Switzerland wanted to settle in the city in that year, they were refused, "after they had in a discussion clearly expressed their doctrine" (Dechent, 114).
A presumptuous attitude on Melander's part led to the hostility of wide circles toward him, especially of the colleagues who had for years supported him but now accused him of moral lapses. In February 1535 he requested his release. The council consented, giving him through Wolfgang Capito a testimonial of honorable life and conduct (Dechent, 144). After Easter, Melander left Frankfurt and entered the service of Philipp of Hesse, who had heard him preach at the Marburg disputation, and now appointed him court preacher.
In this new position Melander again came into contact with the Anabaptists. Characteristic of his attitude at this time was his opinion on measures passed by the government council on 7 August 1536, when he said that the populace must be urged to reform its conduct; offenses must be punished, "in order that the Anabaptists may not take from us an excuse for setting up a new church" (see Hesse). He incidentally gave the Anabaptists a good testimonial in stressing that they, the preachers, must clean their own house in order to deprive the Anabaptists of a pretext for leaving the established church. The government really made an effort "through positive work to remove the foundation from the accusations of the Anabaptists and to remove existing offenses by suitable measures. Clearly and plainly Bucer expressed this in a letter written to Philipp in Wittenberg on 17 November 1538" (Diehl, 5). This positive work was to be accomplished through the church discipline of Ziegenhain published in 1539, which Melander helped to draw up (Thudichum, 595), and in connection with this, also a result of dealings with the Anabaptists, the Order of Confirmation which led to the introduction of confirmation in all Protestant countries.
There is no record of any further efforts made by Melander to suppress the Anabaptists. He died on 10 July, 1561 in Kassel at the age of 75 years.
Dechent, H. Kirchengeschichte von Frankfurt am Main seit der Reformation. Bd. I. Leipzig and Frankfurt, 1913.
Diehl,W. Zur Geschichte der Konfirmation. Giessen, 1897.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon., 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III, 69.
Hochhuth, K. W. H. "Mittheilungen aus der pro-testantischen Secten-Geschichte in der hessischen Kirche." Zeitschrift für die historische Theologie. 28 (1858).
Thudichum, Fr. Die deutsche Reformation 1517-1517. Bd. II. Leipzig, 1909.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 564-565. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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