Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. This month we come to the reign of Christina, Queen of Sweden. She was the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus but never really understood and adopted the Lutheran faith for which her father gave his life. This account shows that although parents raise and nurture their children in the correct faith, they cannot determine the faith of their children.
36. CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN, THE APOSTATE DAUGHTER OF THE KING
When Gustavus Adolphus lost his life on the battlefield of Luetzen, his daughter, Christina, was six years old. In 1633 the estates of the kingdom recognized her as his successor and she was then carefully brought up. Educated men instructed her in languages and sciences. Both from the extraordinary progress that she had already made as a child because of her insatiable thirst for knowledge and as well as from her almost indescribable wildness, it was soon obvious that just as her father was an extraordinary man, she would become an equally extraordinary woman. Her whole being was more masculine than feminine. She later delighted in hearing that at her birth she was taken for a boy and that even as a very young child instead of becoming afraid when a gun was fired, she clapped her hands showing herself to be a true child of a soldier. She sat on a horse like an Amazon and with one foot in the stirrup she raced along. When hunting she could hit the game with the first shot. She was happy to wear men’s clothing and preferred to be in company of men. In conversation she was lively, spirited, and friendly and she had a definite kind-heartedness. She was extremely moderate in eating and drinking; she never complained about a meal; she drank nothing but water. For her, softness seemed to be a vice. She grew from a child into a young woman and showed herself to be free of vanity. She hid the fact that one of her shoulders was higher than the other. It was said that her beauty was especially in her abundant hair although she never gave it the slightest care. She despised feminine finery and women’s work--never taking up and learning a feminine work.
Besides these characteristics, of which the aversion to womanly work already pointed to an abnormality, also others were noticed in her. She was driven by ambition; she was irritable, stubborn, and hot-tempered.
Since at 18 she would be of age and responsible enough to rule, she began to occupy herself with the affairs of state at age 14. Two years later, [Swedish statesman and Count Axel] Oxenstierna brought her into the sessions of the imperial council. Everything was brought before her and no longer was anything decided unless her opinion was heard. Because she gave great consideration to everything brought before her, it already became obvious that when she would begin to rule, she would see, hear and decide everything herself.
On 07 December 1644, the day before her 18th birthday, in a solemn speech the chancellor invited her to take over the reins of power. She thanked him and the entire regency for their faithfulness and wisdom with which they had governed the affairs of state in difficult times, and she took the oath as queen of Sweden.
As queen she continued in the zeal she had previously shown. She did not miss any session of the senate. She still attended the session even when she suffered from fever and was bled. She prepared herself as well as possible. She read through many pages of statements absorbing their content. Before going to sleep and after waking up she would consider the points in dispute so she would know the correct question to ask. She would not make it clear which side she was leaning towards so that each person would speak freely. After she heard both sides, she then would give her own opinion. As a rule, it was well grounded and for the most part one could agree with it. Envoys of foreign princes were surprised at the power she exercised in the senate.
Christina took a most active and energetic part in the Peace of Westphalia [the 1648 treaty ending the Thirty Years’ War, see April-June newsletters] since Oxenstierna and his son, who at that time was the envoy in Osnabrueck, were not favorably inclined toward the agreement. Even the old chancellor found out that he had limited influence on her decisions. There were too many of Oxenstierna family in the imperial council, no fewer than six. They were all men of insight and merit, but she also attracted to her side other men of insight and merit—including men of learning, not only statesmen. After making several blunders, she was wise enough to take refuge with Oxenstierna again; and he who had been set aside for a time, once again saw himself, in 1651, in full enjoyment of royal favor.
Christina’s zeal for learning that in her childhood had astonished her teachers did not leave her as queen. Studying had an immeasurable attraction for her. She understood six languages. She read Thucydides in the original language; she spoke Italian and French as well as she did Swedish. German and Latin also came to her rather easily. She brought the German philologist and historian, Johann Freinsheim [1608-1660], to Sweden. For his sake she paid the majority of the costs imposed upon his home city of Ulm. Isaak Vossius [1618-1689] enhanced the study of Greek. Nicholas Heinsius was able to get for her precious manuscripts and rare books from Italy. The Italians complained that ships were loaded down with the spoils of their libraries, that the resources of scholarship were being carried away from them to the far north. Even the philosopher Rene Descartes [1596-1650] was invited. He had the honor of seeing her in her library every morning at five. Even to his surprise, she used Plato to refute his ideas. Pierre Gassendi [1592-1655] sent her his mathematical works; and, full of astonishment, the great French doctor, Gabriel Naude, wrote to Gassendi: “Her spirit is extraordinary; she has seen everything, heard everything, read everything.”
She paid these foreign scholars with royal generosity. But this generosity and the great sums paid for the increasingly splendid festivals that were given under her government, aroused the displeasure of the people. She knew this very well but she did not want to give them up. The royal treasury was often so empty that the daily needs of the household could not be paid for. But she did not want force be used for her tastes and fancies. Christina wanted to be able to live as she liked and to lead a life dedicated to the finer delights of art and learning, free from the cares of governing. At the same time she was attracted by the thought, which loomed large, of renouncing the throne. She decided to take this step and announced her decision to the imperial council in 1651. At that time the eloquence of Axel Oxenstierna moved her to give up the idea, but the thought remained. Her cousin, Karl Gustav of Pfalz-Zweibruecken, who would have preferred to marry her, had, at her request, already been appointed by the estates to be her successor. But whenever he asked for her hand, she rejected him. For her, it would be intolerable to be bound and to give up her freedom to any one man.
She was nine years old when she got her first close look at the Roman Catholic Church. Among other things, she was told that in it the state of celibacy was considered meritorious. “Oh!” she cried out at that time, “how beautiful is that! I want to accept this religion.” At that time she certainly did not have any inkling that this would actually happen later.
In 1654 Christina actually carried out her intention of abdicating the throne so she could live completely as she wanted. On 16 June, in an assembly of the estates of the kingdom in Uppsala, she solemnly handed over the government to Prince Karl Gustav and only reserved to herself a yearly stipend of 200,000 Taler and the authority over her household servants. She did not depart without tears when she gave her last speech. At the same time Karl Gustav was crowned as Karl X. Five days later Christina, dressed in men’s clothing, traveled through Denmark to Hamburg.
Other than the reason that was in her nature and disposition, Christina also had another reason for abdicating her royal title: she had decided to accept the Roman Catholic religion. In absolute secrecy she had come to this conclusion several years before. Through the religious instruction that she had received from her Evangelical tutor, Dr. Johann Matthiae, a man who was inclined toward syncretism, she got the idea to establish a theological academy that would work for the union of the confessions. Naturally she experienced opposition to this plan in Sweden, which was thoroughly Lutheran. This brought her to tears, tears of displeasure. She often showed her impatience while listening to the long sermons. The longer one tried to keep her in the church the more she would push back with her chair or play with her little dog. She had become inwardly estranged from the religion of the country which she ruled, the religion for which her father had given up his blood and life on the battlefield. And the foreign scholars that were in her court supported her in this alienation.
She began to doubt. She read in Cicero that possibly all existing notions of the deity were false, but that without doubt certainly only one could be right. With this point of view, it seemed to her that “one worthy arrangement of God’s goodness, is that in the pope there is an honest source that decides in matters of faith.” The Portuguese ambassador, Pinto Pereira, had as his interpreter a Jesuit, Antonio Macedo. Christina especially liked talking with him. When the ambassador intended the conversation only to be about business of the state, Christina brought up religious themes. She felt a special impulse and desire to confide her most secret thoughts and plans to Macedo, without anyone, even the third person standing there thinking anything of it. Suddenly Macedo disappeared from Stockholm. Christina acted as if she had searched for him. But she herself had sent him to Rome in order to report, first of all, to the Jesuit General on her intention of becoming Catholic, and to ask him to send her a few trusted members of his order. In February 1652 two Jesuits actually came into Gustavus Adolphus’ palace in the attire and disguise of two Italian noblemen in order to discuss with his daughter her conversion to the Roman church. For Christina the added attraction was always that no one knew anything of the matter. The thought of becoming Roman Catholic and still remaining queen had certainly crossed her mind more than once. But when she asked the Jesuits if the pope would actually give her the permission to receive the Lord’s Supper once a year according to the Lutheran rites and was told “no,” she said, “Then there is no help. I must give up the crown.” As long as she was still in Sweden, she tried to associate with Roman Catholics, especially the Spanish ambassador Don Antonio Pimentel, who enjoyed her favor almost exclusively, often spending entire weeks in the queen’s country house and even also was occasionally in her company over night.
After she solemnly renounced the crown and had left Sweden, she moved closer to the realization of her plans. Although she wanted to spend the rest of life especially in Italy, the homeland of the arts and Catholicism, she did not immediately hurry there. Instead, from Hamburg she detoured through the Netherlands to Brussels where she stayed over half a year. There she secretly, only in the presence of several high-ranking Spaniards, on 24 December 1654, laid down her Roman Catholic confession of faith into the hands of a Dominican. The following year, on 03 November 1655, to the great pain of the Swedes and all Protestants, she publicly converted to the Roman church in Innsbruck, Austria.
Then she moved to Italy where she found a splendid reception. All the cities that came across her path were festively adorned. She was joyously overtaken by all the townspeople. Banquets, plays, gates of honor, illuminations, were everywhere. The entire trip from Innsbruck to Rome was a triumphal procession, culminating in Rome on 21 December 1655 with the greatest splendor. The “spiritual daughter,” who had promised in Innsbruck to work so that also her countrymen, the Swedes, might again be won for the Catholic Church, kissed the slipper of Pope Alexander VII, from who she received the Roman sacrament of Confirmation. To his honor she then called herself “Christina Alexandra.” She moved into the Farnesian Palace and soon gathered around her a court of scholars and artists and she increased her collection of books and art treasures that she had brought with her from her homeland.
But her life in Rome did not satisfy her for long. She wanted to see France and set out in the summer of 1656. But her financial condition was in such that she first had to pawn her jewels in order to procure the necessary money. All of Paris was in anxious expectation. Cardinal Jules Mazarin, as miserly as he otherwise was, saw to it that there was a magnificent entrance and an honorable reception. Ludwig XIV who at that time was just 18 years old, tried to introduce himself to her but he was too shy. However, the ladies in waiting were encouraged when they saw the queen’s high shoulder, small figure, careless dress and the poor entourage. To their amazement, they found that she was quite free and easy, freely gave her opinion on everything, laughed out loud at the theatre, sometimes crossed her legs in public and other similar French mortal sins against politeness. She charmed the Parisian scholars with her vast knowledge and by the lively, understandable way with which she knew how to speak about everything.
Having returned to Italy, she again traveled to France in October 1657, but did not arouse the attention she had received at first. In fact, she gave great offense when 14 days after her arrival in Fontainebleau she had her riding master, the Marchese Monaldeschi, who until then had highly stood in her favor, executed in a room of the castle after only giving him one hour to prepare for death. She suspected him of having betrayed important secrets confided to him; and she was of the opinion that she was to rule over the life of her servants always and everywhere. She regarded what he did as high treason and found it beneath her dignity to have him brought to court whatever it may be. Called to account for it, she exclaimed, “Not allowing anybody think they are better than you are is worth more than ruling the whole world.” This execution caused widespread repugnance both in France and in Italy where she had again returned after just six months.
There she found her financial situation in a very bad state. The Swedish delivery of money, which until then arrived rather regularly, had this time been omitted because the Swedish treasury had run low. In her distress she had to turn to the pope. He appointed her a yearly stipend of 12,000 Francs. Yes, that way too little to help her out her straits and would certainly not give room to her generosity. On top of that, she also made herself unpopular in Italy because she participated in the intrigues of the papal court and in the quarrels of the cardinals.
In 1660 she heard of the death of Karl X and decided to return to Sweden, ostensibly to bring her finances in order, but, in truth, in order to see if she might again be able to ascend the vacant throne. She discovered that a queen without power means nothing. But it was out of the question. Instead, the fact that she publicly went to mass caused widespread scandal in Sweden. It was demanded that she stop and when she did not, she was forced by an uproar of the people to close the chapel that she had prepared for this purpose in the rooms of the royal palace allotted to her. She also had to send back her priests. In 1661 she returned to Hamburg. There a Lutheran pastor asked her, “What moved your majesty to become Catholic?” She answered frivolously, “Your boring sermons.” Then she again went to Rome.
In 1667 she again wanted to go to Sweden, but this time suffered even greater rejection than six years before. The imperial counsel immediately decided that they could only grant her a stay under the condition that she avoid the Catholic worship. Already in Norkoeping she was informed either to turn back or to send back her priests. She chose the first and sailed back to Hamburg without having seen Stockholm.
Even in Hamburg she gave offense. When Clement IX was elected pope after the death of Pope Alexander VII, she publicly set off a firework “to the honor of the holy father,” that displayed the name of the newly elected. But the Lutherans from Hamburg did not want to put up with everything. A crowd of people rose up. Several of her servants wounded and killed people from the crowd of rabble. It stormed the house in which the ex-queen lived so that she herself had to escape through the backdoor to the Swedish envoy.
In 1668 we again find her in Rome. She lived there for 21 years. She did not agree to comply with the demands that normally were placed on converts in Rome or that they laid on themselves, namely exhibiting a true visible display of piety and devotion. She insisted on attending, very merrily, the carnival comedies, concerts, etc. She had a true hatred of the devoted ones and no longer allowed the Roman father confessors to come too near to her. She again took part in the intrigues of the Roman court, in the factions of the cardinals; and one got used to seeing her as rightly belonging to the old living fixture of the curia and to accept her as she was.
She died in 1689 at age 63. She lies buried in St. Peters in Rome.
She had never come to know the Christian Lutheran doctrine in its full purity. But even the light that she had, she exchanged in the darkness of knowledge and pride for the darkness of Rome’s doctrine of works and false teaching. After she was at first highly celebrated on account of her falling away, she was given up to her incessant inner and outer unease. The rest that exists for the people of God, she could not have found in her final hour for Scripture [Hb 10.38] says: “But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
So far Professor Krauss
We have had a very good month. The turnout for Ladies’ Day Out was very good. The meal at The Central in the Post was very good. (Being close to home, Pastor & Dieter where able to attend, nice!)
Our meeting last month at Jean’s was very nice. Thank you Jean for the good lunch.
Sat, Nov. 1st is the Circuit Convocation here at our church, and ladies we need to furnish dessert and coffee. Please bring your goodies to church by 9:00, the more the better. We think there will be about 50 - so HELP . THANK YOU
We also have a Fifth Sunday Dinner coming up in November, more on this later.
November 23 is also our Craft and Bake Sale, so ladies if you have some crafts to make, get busy. I know I need to get busy,
Thank you for all your help, and don’t forget Nov. 1st.
God Bless and have a blessed month.
FROM OUR MISSOURI SYNOD: Thanksgiving Day—A technical change or an adaptive change?
In the autumn of 1621 the new settlers to our country gathered with some native Indians for a three-day thanksgiving feast to celebrate a good harvest. This is probably why pilgrims and turkeys have become so attached to Thanksgiving Day. This event in 1621 was not a holiday, but simply a gathering to express thankfulness and share in the Lord’s bounty. Thanksgiving Day as a holiday dates back to 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday on the last Thursday of November as an encouragement for Americans to give thanks to God for His provision. Since then Thanksgiving Day has remained a national holiday.
As Christians we rejoice that our nation observes a national day of thanksgiving. However, Christian stewards may very well question whether our current Thanksgiving Day celebration is a technical change or an adaptive change. What’s the difference between a technical and an adaptive change? Actually, there is a big difference! If the celebration of Thanksgiving Day is simply one day to pause from the busyness of life and work and give thanks in whatever way people wish to express thanks, and then get back to the regular swing of things, it becomes little more than a momentary technical change. We do it for one day and then get on with life as usual. If, however, Thanksgiving Day provides us with the opportunity to express our thankfulness to God for all His blessings, and then continue to express our thankfulness on an ongoing basis it is more of an adaptive change. Simply put, a technical change is a once a year event, but an adaptive change is a change in behavior that continues throughout the year.
Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” Dr. Martin Luther in his explanation of this petition indicated that “daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body” and that we as God’s people “receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.”
It is a very good practice to be regular and consistent in our prayers at mealtimes. Truly our Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. Saying prayers like this helps us remember that thanksgiving is a daily activity of God’s people. Praying daily also helps us practice thanksgiving in an adaptive way. This encourages us to remember that thanksgiving is a daily way of life, not just a once a year holiday.
Christian stewards are people with grateful hearts and giving hands. All good gifts come from God and He intends for us to receive them with thankfulness and use them in ways that honor Him and bless others. God’s good gifts include healthy relationships, special talents, time, the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus, financial resources and so much more. Jesus frees us from the selfish use of all these gifts and the Holy Spirit helps us live like the children of God who freely, joyfully and daily use all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.
Happy Thanksgiving Day and may your celebration be another reminder that thanksgiving is meant to be a daily response for all that God so richly provides.
WE REMEMBER THE BIRTH OF CFW WALTHER: ONE OF 800 EMIGRANTS
Who was this man whose name is inseparable from the Missouri Synod?
Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther was born on 25 October 1811 in Langenchursdorf in Saxony [near Hohenstein-Ernstthal] as the eighth of twelve children. He grew up in a parsonage. His upbringing was strict and serious. He could not follow his proclivity for a study of music. God had long before appointed him for work in His vineyard. Thus He began the study of theology in Leipzig in 1829. Although Biblical truths were certainly never questioned in his parents’ home, he did not yet experience there the faith that was permeated by the Gospel and which would later define all his theological and churchly work. He soon recognized the university was ruled by a contrary spirit, one that was critical of the Bible. Following the counsel of fellow students who were faithful to the Bible and, above all, during a half year’s recuperation from illness in his father’s parsonage, he increasingly came to trust the Lutheran doctrine as the only reliable interpretation of Scripture.
In 1837 he came to Braeunsdorf [near Chemnitz] and there was ordained a pastor. His clear biblically faithful stance earned him much hostility from ecclesiastical authorities. He found sympathy in this from Pastor Martin Stephan of Dresden who experienced the same thing. In 1838 Stephan thought it was intolerable to remain any longer in the Saxon state church. He decided with almost 800 other Lutheran Christians to emigrate. Walther too belonged to this group which settled in Missouri. In 1841 Walther married Emily Buenger. The couple was blessed with six children.
Already in 1839 Martin Stephan had to be dismissed from his Office on account of serious misconducts. Walther succeeded in once again firming up the Lutheran immigrants in their confession. In 1847 the representatives of 15 Lutheran congregations gathered in Chicago and founded “The German Evangelical-Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States.” Today the “Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod” numbers about 2.3 million members. Walther was its first president. He founded and led Concordia Seminary and was a pastor in St. Louis for 46 years. In numerous publications he presented the cause of confessional Lutherans. After an exceedingly richly blessed work in the kingdom of God, he was called home on 07 May 1887 in St. Louis. [Werner Stoehr, 2012]
THE LAST THREE SUNDAYS OF THE CHURCH YEAR
The last three Sundays of the Church year focus on mortality, suffering in a hostile world and the promise that Christ will return to deliver us.
Calendar: The Third-Last Sunday always falls seven Sundays before Christmas.
Customs: Christians should at all times focus on the promise of Christ’s return and fervently pray for His return. Live in expectation of His reappearing, abstaining from every appearance of evil. Witness boldly to others that Christ is returning as Savior and Judge. Read Bible stories to children each day.
[The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2004 pg. 443]
A DEVOTION AT THE END OF THE CHURCH YEAR
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. [Luke 24. 46 ESV]
LUTHER: To preach repentance means here nothing other than to rebuke people as sinners and say that they should mend their ways. In sum, to preach repentance means to hold before the people that they are in a damnable state and condition since it is impossible for them to be saved unless they convert and become different. Because Christ now desires that such a preaching of repentance should go out among all peoples, so He wants no person on earth to have an excuse or exemption, but desires that they are all accused as sinners. Yes, because He desires that such preaching should go among the people of God and to the most holy place, He also rebukes as sinners those who think they are holy and He desires that even the Pharisees and scribes be told to mend their ways. They are worse than whores and scoundrels since they still regard themselves as pious and holy and not in need of such preaching of repentance. Thus with this command the Lord Christ condemns the whole world and rebukes all people as sinners, Jews and Gentiles, and desires, if we want to be saved, that each person fall on their knees and say: Lord, I am a sinner; it is necessary that I amend myself. But I cannot. Therefore, Lord be merciful to me and help me. Whoever does this and despairs of all his life and doing, then comes to the other part which says: Forgiveness of sin. The Lord desires that this forgiveness should also be preached, this is especially to be done that we recognize that we are sinners and so ask for grace.
Faith Lutheran Voter’s Meeting- October 12, 2014
Meeting called to order @ 12:08pm with prayer by President Sutton with 14 members present.
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