Died For the Cause: Leonhard Kaiser
He was one of many “new believers” just struggling to stay alive in a time of bloodshed and religious fanaticism. Leonhard Kaiser had adopted the Lutheran faith and there was no going back. In Sharding, which is now located in Austria but what was then part of heavily-Catholic Bavaria, his daring espousal of Protestantism caught up with him. It started when his father became ill . . . this circumstance would eventually take Leonhard’s own life, but in a far less predictable way. He was a Christian man and would not leave his father to fend for himself, thus he traveled back to Bavaria in the hopes of tolerance.
Unfortunately for Herr Kaiser, the civil magistrates had a strict policy: Life was for “true believers” . . . only death awaited those who dared to be different. Kaiser’s decision to teach Protestant doctrines, admirable but risky, did not help matters. He was arrested, questioned, and sentenced. Martin Luther himself got wind of Kaiser’s struggles and began writing words of encouragement. Many looked to Kaiser’s fortitude to strengthen their own convictions. There was a new breed of man in Europe, a breed not only accustomed to a martyr’s lot but strangely peaceful toward it, as they understood that in giving their life for the faith they would see Christ face-to-face.
Leonhard Kaiser was given no mercy. On August 16, 1527, in Scharding, he was burned at the stake.
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