« Capital Punishment Capito, Wolfgang Fabricius Capitularies »

Capito, Wolfgang Fabricius

CAPITO, WOLFGANG FABRICIUS: Reformer at Strasburg; b. at Hagenau) 16 m. n. of Strasburg) 1478; d. at Strasburg Nov., 1541. He was the son of a blacksmith named Koepfel, whence the Latin name Capito. Having passed the schools at Pforzheim and Ingolstadt, he studied at Freiburg first medicine, then law, and finally theology. In 1512 he became parish priest at Bruchsal and there made the acquaintance of Œcolampadius and Pellican. Called to Basel in 1515 as preacher and professor, he became intimate with the humanists, including Erasmus, and, abandoning scholasticism, 408betook himself to the study of the Bible. He published the Psalter in the original (1516), became personally acquainted with Zwingli and from 1518 corresponded with Luther. Contrary to all expectation, he was appointed in 1519 chaplain to Albert, elector and archbishop of Mainz. For a time he tried to mediate with humanistic liberality between the elector and Luther, but in 1522 he was brought over completely to the cause of the Reformation, and resigned his position at Mainz. In May, 1523, he went to Strasburg and as provost of St. Thomas (a position obtained by the favor of Leo X.) preached in accordance with his conviction. In 1524 he married and became pastor of the Jung-St. Petergemeinde. From this time on, he belonged, with Butzer and the burgomaster Jacob Sturm, to the leaders of the Strasburg Reformation. In his Kinderbericht (1527 and 1529) he prepared a catechism, which, by its peculiar arrangement and characteristic treatment of the matter, forms a noteworthy pendant to Luther's contemporaneous smaller catechism. With Butzer, Capito prepared the Confessio Tetrapolitana (1530). His most important reformatory work is the Berner Synodus, the result of the synod held at Bern in 1532, a kind of church-discipline and pastoral instruction, distinguished by apostolic power and unction, great simplicity, and practical wisdom. He took an active part in Butzer's efforts to bring together the Evangelicals of Germany, France, and Switzerland. He also had part in bringing about the Wittenberg Concordia of 1536. Toward the Anabaptists and other sectaries who disturbed the church at Strasburg he was more friendly and confiding than Butzer, and for a time sided with them, thus destroying the good understanding between himself and Butzer. But in 1534 he became convinced of the necessity of stricter measures against the Anabaptists. Characteristic of Capito were not only his mildness and large-heartedness, but also a certain timidity and uncertainty in his theological and ecclesiastical position. However, this was not due to diplomatic opportunism, but to a sincere repugnance to unfruitful theological controversy and a religious individuality which had more regard to the inner possession of the fruits of salvation than to a dogmatic definition of the doctrine of salvation.

He died of the plague after having attended the Diet at Regensburg.

Paul Grünberg.

Bibliography: J. W. Baum, Capito and Butzer, Elberfeld, 1860; ADB iii. 772–775; A. Baum, Magistrat und Reformation in Strassburg bis 1529, Strasburg, 1887; C. Gerbert, Geschichte der Strassburger Sektenbewegung . . . 1524–1534, ib. 1889; A. Ernst and J. Adam, Katechetische Geschichte des Elsasses, pp. 22–36, ib. 1897; S. M. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli, passim, New York, 1903; J. Ficker, Thesaurus Baumianus, pp. 52–57, Strasburg, 1905; A. Hulshof, Geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden te Straatsburg van 1525 tot 1557, Amsterdam, 1905.

« Capital Punishment Capito, Wolfgang Fabricius Capitularies »
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