Quick Facts about Leonhard Keyser
Born – 1495
Martyred – 1527
Faith – Before his conversion he was actually a Bavarian Catholic Priest. Thus, his conversion was treason. While many believe him to be an Anabaptist, he is also said to have been a Lutheran. However, in Bavaria he was called a Baptist which would lead one to believe that he had been re-baptized which means by default he was partially Anabaptist. The confusion is due in part to the fact that he once visited Germany to meet with the Lutherans and fellowship with them. But he was an avid learner of Luther, Zwingli, and the Anabaptist; all 3 teachings.
Killed By – Catholic Church
Location of death – Scharding, River Inn
Method of execution – Failed attempt at burning, then dismemberment and thrown into the river. The river as it appears today is in the photo below.
Testimony of Martyr Leonhard Keyser
Testimony from The Martyr’s Mirror, pg 421-422
When the believers greatly increased under persecution and the cross (Ex. 1:12), there was, in Bavaria, a learned priest of the mass, named Leonhard Keyser, who examined the writings of Zwingli and Luther, and also went to Wittenberg, where he conferred with the doctors and commemorated the Supper with them.
Having returned to Bavaria, he examined the fruits and doctrine of the Anabaptists, as well as of Zwingli and Luther, and joined himself under the cross to the separated cross-bearing church of the Anabaptists, in the year 1525, and forthwith continued in his ministry, with great power and zeal, undaunted by all the tyranny which arose over the believers, in the way of drowning, burning and putting to death. Acts 9:20.
In the second year of his ministry, Leonhard Keyser was apprehended at Scharding, in Bavaria, and condemned by the bishop of Passau and other priests and capitulars, to be burned on Friday before St. Lawrence day, in August of the same year. Having bound him on a cart, they took him to the fire, the priests going alongside, and speaking Latin to him, but he, on account of the people, answered them in German; even as they had refused to speak to him in German before the court, which he had frequently requested.
When he came out into the field, and was approaching the fire, he, bound, as he was, leaned down at the side of the cart, and plucked a flower with his hand, saying to the judge, who rode on horseback along side of the cart,
“Lord judge, here I pluck a flower; if you can burn this flower and me, you have justly condemned me; but,. on the other hand, if you cannot burn me and this flower in my hand, consider what you have done and repent,”
Thereupon the judge and the three executioners threw an extraordinary quantity of wood into the fire, in order to burn him immediately to ashes by the great fire. But when the wood was entirely burned up, his body was taken from the fire uninjured. Then the three executioners and their assistants built another great fire of wood, which when it was consumed, his body still remained uninjured,!!! only his hair and his nails were somewhat burnt brown, and, the ashes having been removed from his body, the latter was found smooth and clear, and the flower in his hand, not withered, or burnt in the least, the executioners then cut his body into pieces, which they threw into a new fire. When the wood was burned up, the pieces lay unconsumed in the fire.
Finally they took the pieces and threw them into the river Inn. This judge was so terrified by this occurrence that he resigned his office, and moved to another place. His chief servant, who was with the judge, and saw and heard all this, came to us in Moravia, became our brother and lived and died piously. That it might not be forgotten our teachers have recorded this as it came from his own lips, and now cause it to be promulgated and made known.
Further Observation of Leonhard’s Death
Also from The Martyr’s Mirror
Seb. Frank, in his Chron. der Rom. Kett. letter L.,. gives the following account of this matter:
“Having been brought a prisoner to Scharding, he was taken to the fire by three executioners; bound cross wise on a ladder, .and thrust into the fire. When he called upon Christ Jesus the ropes fell from his body and were burned; and as he was still alive, he rolled out of the fire at one side. The executioners instantly thrust him back into the fire, with hop poles, that happened to be there, so that he rolled out on the other side. There the executioners cut him alive into pieces, which they cast into the fire, without being able, however, to burn them, as I have read.”