January 05, 1587 – Felix Manz was sentenced to death “because contrary to Christian order and custom he had become involved in Anabaptism…because he confessed that he wanted to accept Christ and follow Him, and unite with them through baptism.” The reformers had demanded the death penalty for rebaptizing in March of 1526, but Manz was their first victim. According to the record he was taken from the Wellenberg Prison to a boat and then along the banks of the Limmat River in Zurich, Switzerland in front of a sad procession of his followers and others standing on the banks of the river. His mother’s voice could be heard encouraging him to remain true to Christ in the hour of temptation. As the boat slipped out into the lake, his arms and legs were bound as he sang, “into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” In a few moments the cold waters of Lake Zurich closed over the head of the Baptist preacher. Manz was born an illegitimate son of a Catholic priest who served as Canon in Zurich. Young Manz was given a superior education in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He joined in studying the New Testament with Zwingli and was converted to Christ under his teaching. He became dissatisfied with Zwingli’s program of reform, and joined others as they met regularly at his home. The first believer’s baptism took place in 1525. These young believers began obeying the N.T. method of door to door visitation but were soon looked upon as a threat to the reformers. On Oct. 8, 1525 many of the Anabaptists were imprisoned. He was later imprisoned at the same time with Conrad Grebel and George Blaurock. The three were later moved to the Witch’s Tower in Zurich. Manz escaped both times but was rearrested and imprisoned many times before he was silenced by death.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 06-08.