Did you know that sausages once changed history? It’s true – let me tell you the story:

The time: March 1522 A.D. The place: Zurich, Switzerland.

It is the time of the Lenten fast. All Catholic peoples are forbidden from eating meat (other than fish) during this somber time of fasting and abstinence. However, a few radical minded men plan to change that. They plan to eat some smoked sausages.


Credit: MarkusHagenlocher, Wikimedia Commons

Five years before, a monk by the name of Martin Luther ignited a firestorm of religious controversy when he published his 95 Theses challenging the authority of the Catholic Church. Within the next few years, in Switzerland a young pastor named Huldrych Zwingli joins in on this new “Reformation” of the Christian faith. Believing that all doctrine should come from the Bible alone, Zwingli attacks what he sees as false teachings by the Church. One of these teachings is that all Christians must observe Lent. Zwingli doesn’t see that in the Bible, and so concludes that fasting during Lent is something optional that every Christian is free to do or not do as their own conscience dictates

That brings us to March 1522. A printer named Cristoph Froschauer invites Zwingli to join a sausage feast that he is holding for his workers, along with other priests, pastors, and important people in Zurich. While he doesn’t eat any sausage himself, Zwingli joins the feast and says a prayer to bless the food. Scandal! Eating sausage during Lent? With one of the leading pastors from Zurich giving his blessing? What is this world coming to!?

The Affair of the Sausages, as it becomes known, is so scandalous that the Bishop of Konstanz forbids any Reformation teaching in Switzerland, but it is too little, too late. The Reformation has spread to Switzerland. The teachings of Zwingli and others will eventually be developed further by other men such as John Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, and Peter Martyr Vermigli, leading to a theology known as Calvinism or Reformed Theology. A pretty amazing outcome for a simple sausage dinner!