Antonio Rizzetto, (died 1565), a Hutterite martyr, was baptized around 1551 in his house in Vicenza, Italy, by the anti-Trinitarian Anabaptist minister Marcantonio of Asolo, an associate of Pietro Manelfi. Late in 1551, following the exposure of the north Italian evangelical movement by Manelfi, the Inquisition began to arrest members of the sect, forcing Rizzetto to flee. He sought refuge in Thessalonica, accompanied by Bartolomeo of Padua and the latter's wife and daughter. Upon Bartolomeo's death Rizzetto married the widow. After living some time in Thessalonica, Rizzetto returned alone to Italy, perhaps prompted by a letter from Francesco della Sega. In 1561 he visited the Hutterites in Moravia in the company of Bartolomeo of Ferrara, Lucrezia of Vicenza, and one of his daughters by an earlier marriage. He was accepted as a member of a community there, so must have renounced his anti-Trinitarian beliefs, if he in fact ever held them. He went to Moravia, says Rizzetto, "because I had learned that there were there good people who lived saintly lives; and seeing their lives and actions, I was pleased, and thus I determined to remain there and I stayed and I left my daughter there." He now made arrangements to have his wife, Caterina, and his stepdaughter, Paola, join him. To effect this he went to Venice in 1562 with della Sega and paid a merchant twenty-five ducats to bring his family from Thessalonica. (Paola died in Thessalonica; Caterina was attempting to return to Italy in 1563.) Rizzetto himself was about to go back to Moravia with several other persons when a financial dispute led a member of the party to betray them to the authorities at Capodistria, and Rizzetto, della Sega, Nicola Buccella, and Rizzetto's young son were arrested (27 August 1562). Interrogations followed, at Capodistria and then at Venice, and in the course of these Rizzetto supplied not only the information given above but also some descriptions of the doctrines and ceremonies of the Hutterites. All efforts of the Inquisitors to bring him to recant failed, despite arguments, prolonged confinement, and the pleas of his son. On 8 February 1565, together with della Sega, he was sentenced, as an impenitent Anabaptist heretic, to be drowned. When the executioner told him della Sega was considering an abjuration, Rizzetto, much disturbed, replied, "Unhappy soul! But if he has lost his soul, I do not want to lose mine: What I have said, I have said." Exhorted further, he answered simply, "Do your deed." Thus he died not knowing for sure whether della Sega had recanted.
The execution was a tragic and moving scene. As the boats carrying the party moved under cover of darkness toward the sea, a priest urged Rizzetto to kiss the Crucifix, but he refused and warned those with him to come to Christ that they might escape eternal damnation. When the boats stopped, a plank was extended between them, and the executioner passed around Rizzetto's waist a chain attached to a heavy stone. Turning his face to the heavens Rizzetto cried, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Then, saying, "O God, into Thy hands I remit my spirit," he rolled off the plank into the sea.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 243.
Bellondi, V. I battisti, pagine della Inquisizione veneta. Rome, 1881.
Benrath, K. "Wiedertäufer im Venetianischen um die Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts." Theologische Studien und Kritiken LVIII (1885): 9-67.
Comba, E. I nostri protestanti. Firenze, 1897: v. II, 589-602.
DeWind, Henry A. "Anabaptists in Thessalonica?" Mennonite Quarterly Review XXIX (1955): 70-73.
DeWind, Henry A. "Italian Hutterite Martyrs." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXVIII (1954): 163-85.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 524 f.
|Author(s)||Henry A DeWind|
Cite This Article
DeWind, Henry A. "Rizzetto, Antonio (d. 1565)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 29 Nov 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Rizzetto,_Antonio_(d._1565)&oldid=84619.
DeWind, Henry A. (1959). Rizzetto, Antonio (d. 1565). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Rizzetto,_Antonio_(d._1565)&oldid=84619.
Herald Press website.
©1996-2015 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.