Antonius von Köln (16th century)

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Antonius von Köln ("pious Antonius"), one of the earlier Anabaptist leaders, worked from ca. 1533 to 1560 in the Lower Rhine region as a dealer in English linen. He was not a brother of the Cologne Anabaptist Gerhard von Westerburg, whose name was Arnt. Rembert was mistaken when he considered Antonius a brother of Westerburg. Antonius worked quietly in Jülich (or Bracht), district of Brüggen. Occasionally he made contacts with Dutch Anabaptists. In 1542 he was ordained elder by Menno Simons and Dirk Philips, and took part in the conference at Emden (1547) and at Goch (1547). In a disputation between the Brethren or Christian Brethren (the name assumed by the Anabaptists) and the Calvinists (church inspection committee appointed by the Duke of Jülich) a difference on the doctrine of the incarnation became apparent between the Brethren on one hand and Antonius on the other.

When the Brethren once more contested Antonius' views in writing, Antonius forwarded the letter to Dirk Philips, and asked for his opinion. Perhaps Antonius had already rejected the views of the Dutch; in any case in 1550 he left them. In 1550 he is mentioned as a leader of the Christian Brethren at Ratheim (see Gillis van Aken). The church had been permitted to gather there in peace under the protection of Heinrich v. Olmissen, called Mulstroe. Antonius lived in the castle of Mulstroe's widow in 1559; he was known for his "piety and sanctity." These brief notices are not sufficient to form a sketch of his character. Antonius was one of those Anabaptists who traveled over the country preaching and baptizing. He was also in England, probably not for purely business purposes. Dates of birth and death are not known. The letter of Dirk Philips mentioned above is found in manuscript form in the Amsterdam Mennonite Library. In a Dutch list of elders he is Thomas Antonius.


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Author(s) J. ten Doornkaat Koolman
Date Published 1953

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Doornkaat Koolman, J. ten. "Antonius von Köln (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 26 May 2020.

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Doornkaat Koolman, J. ten. (1953). Antonius von Köln (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 133-134. All rights reserved.

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