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Martin Luther

The Reformer

Martin Luther was born in 1483 to a peasant family of miners in Eisleben. From 1488, he attended the Mansfeld Latin School and later continued his education in Magdeburg and Eisenach. In 1501, he began his studies in Erfurt. His goal: to become a lawyer.

In 1505, Luther broke away from his previous path to enter the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. His decision was marked by the search for a merciful God and his will as well as an incisive experience. His development as a church reformer was underway.

Growing criticism of ecclesiastical grievances and his own negative experiences led to a fundamental examination of medieval theology. Public criticism of the abuse of indulgences in 1517 led to the opening of the trial of heretics instead of the hoped-for discussion. With the imposition of the church ban and the Reichsacht ("Imperial Eight") in 1521, it came to an end.

To save Luther’s life, Elector Friedrich feigned an ambush. Luther lived for almost a year as "Junker Jörg" at Wartburg Castle, where he translated the New Testament into German.

Luther's most visible break with monastic life was his marriage to the former nun Katharina von Bora in June 1525. Two years earlier, he had helped her escape from the monastery together with a few other nuns. This was the genesis of the Protestant parsonage.

After the peasant uprising of 1525, which Luther rejected, the Reformer promoted the formation of Protestant regional churches with visits and church orders. Luther died in February 1546 in Eisleben, his native town. By order of the Elector he was buried in the castle church in Wittenberg.

With the translation of the Bible into German, Luther gained lasting fame. Today, about 70 million believers across all five continents belong to Lutheran churches.

Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora

© TV SBuHL
St. Nicholas Church, Döbeln © © TV SBuHL