Wolfgang Uolimann (Ullmann, Ulmann, Ulimann), a Swiss Brethren leader in St. Gall and Appenzell. His real name was Wolfgang Schorant. His father, a respected citizen, was a guild master in St. Gall. Uolimann had been a monk in the monastery of St. Lucius in Chur. Obviously the Reformation made a powerful appeal to his religious sensibilities. The evangelical sermons of Johannes Kessler, though they were private, profoundly affected the populace. In 1524 Uolimann also openly espoused and preached the Gospel in the open air near the Mangen church in St. Gall.
Soon differences of opinion became apparent within the Protestant circles. Lorenz Hochrüttiner who had been baptized in Zürich by Conrad Grebel, sponsored a discussion of baptism on the death of Jesus (Romans 6) and took a position against infant baptism. Soon afterward, Uolimann met Grebel in Scharfhausen, and was baptized by him by immersion in the Rhine. The founding of the Swiss Brethren congregation in St. Gall followed naturally, and at the same time the break with Zwingli's church occurred. On 18 March, Uolimann proclaimed to a large company assembled in the weaver hall (Weberstube) that the heavenly Father had revealed to him that he should avoid the church as a place of lies, where the truth had never been proclaimed nor was being proclaimed now.
The two evangelical parties were now clearly defined: the representatives of the Reformed Church with infant baptism, and the representatives of the Brethren with believers' baptism. In the end, however, under the powerful intervention of Vadian, the Anabaptist movement was suppressed. In April 1525 the Brethren were summoned to the council to answer for their teachings on baptism. Uolimann skillfully defended the Anabaptist position saying that infant baptism was a later institution of the church without Scriptural foundation; that adult baptism implied the obligation to die to vices, live to Christ, and be obedient; their rejection of infant baptism he based on Jesus' command to the disciples to teach, believe, and baptize. This order was maintained about two hundred years, until the time of Cyprian and Tertullian. Formerly baptism had been performed at Easter or Pentecost, then later entirely according to human understanding and not according to the Scripture. Uolimann was at first requested "for the sake of brotherly love to wait with the deed." When he refused, the request was changed to a command with the threat of expulsion in case he did not comply.
The tension continued to mount, leading to two further debates. When the opponents sought to justify infant baptism by reading Zwingli's Taufbüchlein (Vom Tauff, vom Wiedertauff und vom Kindertauff), Uolimann countered by saying, "If you have Zwingli's word, we want to have God's Word." In June 1525 the Brethren were forbidden to hold any more meetings in or around the town. Since Uolimann did not comply he was sentenced to banishment on 17 July, but was later pardoned upon his oath. His activity in the brotherhood was several times punished by sentence of imprisonment. Although he was a radical innovator, he cannot be held responsible for the excesses that made their appearance in the Anabaptist group at St. Gall.
Little is known of Uolimann's further career. In 1528 he went to Basel in the Anabaptist cause, but was ejected from the city. He led a group of Anabaptists to Moravia, and was leading a second group from Appenzell to Moravia in 1528, when they were seized in Waldsee in Swabia. Uolimann and ten other men were beheaded and the women drowned. Those who recanted were sent home. The Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren records of them, "They testified thus manly and valiantly with their bodies unto death, that their faith and baptism were founded upon divine truth."
Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doops-gesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, …, 1685. Part II: 17.
Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 427. Available online at: http://www.homecomers.org/mirror/index.htm.
Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. VII, 26, 516.
Egli, Emil. Die St. Galler Täufer. Zürich, 1887.
Geiser, S. Die Taufgesinnten-Gemeinden. Karlsruhe, 1931.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV.
Peachey. Die soziale Herkunft der Schweizer Täufer. Karlsruhe, 1954: 25 ff. 37, 75, 109, No. 19.
Wolkan, Rudolf. Geschicht-Buch der Hutterischen Brüder. Macleod, AB, and Vienna, 1923.
Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943: 48.
Cite This Article
Geiser, Samuel. "Uolimann, Wolfgang (d. 1528)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 29 Aug 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Uolimann,_Wolfgang_(d._1528)&oldid=112106.
Geiser, Samuel. (1959). Uolimann, Wolfgang (d. 1528). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 August 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Uolimann,_Wolfgang_(d._1528)&oldid=112106.
Herald Press website.
©1996-2015 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.