Klaus von Graveneck, an eyewitness, wrote of Sattler’s conduct, “All this I saw myself. May God grant us also to testify of Him so bravely and patiently.” The events recorded above took place over a two-day period. The sentence was read on May 18. Two days later, on May 20, Sattler was executed.

The torture, a prelude to the execution, began at the marketplace, where a piece was cut from Sattler’s tongue. Pieces of flesh were torn from his body twice with red-hot tongs. He was then forged to a cart. On the way to the scene of the execution the tongs were applied five times again. In the marketplace and at the site of the execution, still able to speak, the unshakable Sattler prayed for his persecutors. After being bound to a ladder with ropes and pushed into the fire, he admonished the people, the judges, and the mayor to repent and be converted. Then he prayed, “Almighty, eternal God, Thou art the way and the truth: because I have not been shown to be in error, I will with thy help to this day testify to the truth and seal it with my blood.”

As soon as the ropes on his wrists were burned, Sattler raised the two forefingers of his hands, giving the promised signal to the brethren that a martyr’s death was bearable. Then the assembled crowd heard coming from his seared lips, “Father, I commend my spirit into Thy hands.”

Three others were then executed. After every attempt to secure a recantation from Sattler’s faithful wife had failed, she was drowned eight days later in the Neckar.

Perhaps no other execution of an Anabaptist had such far-reaching influence. Wilhelm Reublin’s booklet containing an account of Sattler’s execution found its way throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Lutheran, Reformed, and even Catholic witnesses were never quite able to get away from the scene of that infamous day in Rottenburg. Bucer and Capito were grieved at the news of the execution. The impact of Sattler’s superlative witness is felt to this day. To this fact Gustav Bossert, Jr., a contemporary Lutheran pastor and Anabaptist scholar of Wurttemberg, testifies. He writes, “Sattler’s character lies clearly before us. He was not a highly educated divine and not an intellectual; but his entire life was noble and pure, true and unadulterated.”

Estep, W. R. (1996). The Anabaptist story: an introduction to sixteenth-century Anabaptism (3rd ed., rev. and enl., pp. 72–73). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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