In remembrance of the great reformer

Martin Luther

The 500-year-anniversary of Luther's posting of his theses is approaching rapidly and so there is good reason to celebrate the great reformer to preserve his memory. At an early age, Luther became a monk, later he also worked as a deacon, priest and vicar in the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits in Erfurt.

But what lead the professor of theology to revolting against church and initiating a reformation which eventually resulted in the separation of church?

Luther's posting of his theses

On October 31, 1517, Luther published his 95 theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. To this day, this symbolises the start of the Reformation. Although these articles were originally planned as an academic confrontation, because of the letterpress they quickly spread like wildfire throughout Germany.

In June 1518, the Roman Catholic church initialized a pre-investigation against Martin Luther – the charge: heresy. While being interrogated by the pontifical envoy cardinal Cajetan in Augsburg, Luther refused to revoke his texts. Only a few months later, Luther publicly doubted the papal infallibility and the impeccability of the councils during a debate at the University of Leipzig.

His writings, which spread rapidly, thus gaining him numerous supporters, caused the papal threat of the excommunication bill on June 15, 1520. 

Under the cheering of his friends in Wittenberg, Martin Luther burned the bill publicly. Following that, he was excommunicated on January 3, 1521. After he also refused to deny his writings in front of the Emperor Karl V. at the Wormser Reichstag the same year, the imperial ban was imposed on Luther and his supporters (Wormser Edikt).

A Life in Service of the Reformation

The Saxon elector Friedrich the Wise, who feared for Luther's life, had him kidnapped and taken to the Wartburg castle in Eisenach for his own protection, where Luther lived under the name "Junker Jörg" for ten months. During this time, Luther translated the New Testament into German. This Bible translation became the foundation of the Modern High German written language. By March 1522, Luther had already returned to Wittenberg to end the upheaval and iconoclasm in the city through a series of sermons, "Invokativpredigten", which lasted several days.

On June 13, 1525, Martin Luther married former nun Katharina von Bora. The couple lived together with their six children, relatives, employees and students in the former Black Abbey in Wittenberg.

His last journey brought Martin Luther back to his hometown to end inheritance disputes in the counts of Mansfeld in 1546. The reformer died on February 18 in Eisleben and was laid to rest in the castle church of Wittenberg three days later.

Alongside reforms in church, school and society issues, the translation of the Bible is seen as the main work of the German reformer. The printed all-German Bible of 1534 in Wittenberg influenced the German language like no other book and functioned as a stimulus for the translation of the Bible into many other European languages.

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Luther-Hotel Wittenberg