Four Swiss Sisters
I often look to martyrologies and other online resources to find Protestant martyrs and sufferers, and usually a name (or names) jumps out at me and silently begs to be remembered. But who to choose? Often it’s a name where my eyes fall, or an ancestor surname, or something I notice out of the blue. Today there was a very compelling story --- very unique, one such as I had never seen before.
One might forget that the Anabaptists were persecuted not only throughout the 1500s but the 1600s as well (this is when my own ancestors suffered under Swiss authority) and many martyrs were created during this time. Even those who survived death were treated horrendously. The unusual part is the four names I saw: Barbara and Elizabeth Meylin, Barbara Kolbin, and Ottila (Ottilia?) Mulerin. I’m not sure why two sisters would both be named Barbara (unless, as in German custom, one might have been Barbara and then one Anna Barbara, or something like that) but their story was intriguing. How old were they? Did they have living relatives who would have been horrified to see almost an entire family suffer out in such a way?
Sources say these four sisters (who were likely all born around the year 1586 in Zurich, Switzerland) eventually escaped torture, though they spent an awful amount of time in prison in 1639. A family genealogy site lists a Barbara Meili (very similar to Meylin) and states that this particular woman married Felix Lambrecht. Her parents were Jacob Meili and Verena Schuepp.
While Jacob and Verena did have daughters named Elizabeth and Barbara, there is no Ottila or second Barbara mentioned. This may or may not be the same family as the one mentioned in Martyrs’ Mirror. I also wondered if “sisters” might have been meant in the Christian way, such as “Christian sisters.” The article did not specify (though it seemed to mean “real” sisters) and I stand corrected if this is the case. Yet assuming they actually were related, did these “pious sisters” have husbands and children? Were their loved ones subjected to the same treatment? Some things will never be known.
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved