The New International Encyclopædia/Menno Simons
MEN'NO SI'MONS (1492-1559). The founder of the later school of Anabaptists (q.v.) in Holland, from whom the Mennonites (q.v.) take their name. He was born at Witmarsum, in Friesland, in 1492; took orders in 1516; and was a priest in his native place from 1531 to 1536. The study of the New Testament, however, excited grave doubt in his mind regarding the truth both of the doctrine and constitution of the Church, and in 1536 he withdrew from it altogether. He attached himself to the party of the Anabaptists, was rebaptized at Leeuwarden, and in 1537 was appointed a teacher and bishop in the university of what was then known as the Old Evangelical or Waldensian Church at Groningen. Henceforth his great endeavor was to organize and unite the scattered members of the Anabaptist sect in Holland and Germany. With this design he spent much time in traveling; but Friesland was his chief residence until persecution compelled him to flee. Finally he settled in Oldesloe, in Holstein, where he was allowed to establish a printing press for the diffusion of his religious opinions. Here he died, January 13, 1559. He was a man of earnest and spiritual nature, with no trace about him of the wild fanaticism of the earlier Anabaptists. His book of doctrine, Elements of the True Christian Faith, was published in Dutch in 1539. His works in English translation are published by the Mennonite Publishing Society at Elkhart, Ind.