Johann Caspar Lavater

“Make this poor self grow less and less,
Be Thou my life and aim;
Oh, make me daily, through Thy grace,
More worthy of Thy name.”

― Johann Caspar Lavater 1741-1801

Son of Zürich phy­si­cian Jo­hann Hein­rich La­va­ter, Jo­hann en­tered the Ac­a­dem­ic Gym­na­si­um in Zü­rich in 1758, and at the end of 1759 be­gan his stu­dies in its the­o­lo­gic­al de­part­ment. Af­ter com­plet­ing his course, he was or­dained in the spring of 1762, but did not un­der­take any re­gu­lar pas­tor­al work un­til Ap­ril 1769, when he was ap­point­ed di­a­co­nus of the Orp­han­age church of Zü­rich, where he be­came pas­tor in 1775.

In Ju­ly 1778 he was ap­point­ed di­a­co­nus of St. Pe­ter’s Church, and in De­cem­ber 1786 pas­tor there. Dur­ing the French re­vo­lu­tion­a­ry per­i­od, France put the Swiss can­tons “un­der con­tri­bu­tion,” and in Ap­ril 1779 de­port­ed 10 of the prin­ci­pal ci­ti­zens of Zü­rich. La­va­ter pro­test­ed the ac­tion in print and from the pul­pit. Con­se­quent­ly, while vi­sit­ing Ba­den, near Zü­rich, he was seized by French dra­goons, May 14, 1799, and was taken to Ba­sel, but was al­lowed to re­turn to Zü­rich, Au­gust 16, 1799.

When the French un­der Mas­sé­na en­tered Zü­rich on Sep­tem­ber 25, 1799, La­va­ter was shot by a French gre­na­dier; he died of his wounds al­most two months lat­er.

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