Today is Reformation Day / Reformationstag, marking the occasion on 31st October 1517, when Martin Luther sent a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeberg, protesting about the sale of indulgences and enclosing a document setting out his disputation with Roman Catholic teaching and practice of that time, which has become known as ‘The 95 Theses’. According to tradition – though now disputed by some scholars, he also pinned these ’95 Theses’ to the door of the Schlosskirche /Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Today is a public holiday in several of the German Länder / States, celebrating this event which is seen as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Many Churches of the Lutheran tradition hold special services though sometimes these are transferred back to the previous Sunday, known as ‘Reformation Sunday’. The Church of England also remembers today, ‘Martin Luther – Church Reformer’, as part of its calendar.
This post arises out of two things. The first of these is to be a positive antidote to the celebration of Halloween to which I have a great aversion. Why do parents encourage their children to do silly things today that they spend the other 364 days of the year, actively discouraging them from doing???? And sadly, some people use today to celebrate that which is basically evil, rather than celebrating all that is good.
My second reason is that last week, Sybille and I, spent a most enjoyable few days in Berlin about which I will blog here in due course. On our return journey to Prague on Friday 26th October, we made a slight detour and visited the town of Wittenberg. I am rather behind with my blogging – observant readers will notice that my previous post was written and posted four weeks after the events described – but I felt that the coinciding of our Wittenberg visit with today, was a blogging opportunity not to be missed 🙂
Wittenberg – now officially called Lutherstadt Wittenberg, lies about 100 kilometres south-west of Berlin. Its location within the former East Germany meant that for over forty years, it was a rather difficult place to visit. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the town has recovered and major work is under-way, to ensure it looks its very best for the celebrations planned to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
Within Wittenberg there are two Churches connected to Martin Luther. The Stadtkirche St Marien is where he preached his famous eight Lenten sermons in 1522 and where he married the former nun, Katerina von Bora the following year. This Church is undergoing major renovation work at present costing 7.5 million Euros. It is rather surrounded by other buildings as well as scaffolding and therefore somewhat difficult to photograph.
The Schlosskirche is also undergoing renovation works but at least I was able to get this photograph of the Church’s tower. Inscribed on it are the opening line of Luther’s most famous hymn, ‘Ein feste Burg‘ – ‘A safe stronghold’. This is where Luther is traditionally understood to have pinned his ’95 Theses’ to the Church door. It is also where he is buried.
The original portal to the Schlosskirche was destroyed by fire in in 1760. In 1858, these bronze doors with the text of the 95 Theses in Latin, were installed. There is a German translation on one of the walls of the nave inside the Church.
Martin Luther is to be seen everywhere within Wittenberg. His statue has centre stage within the main square. But he is is also to be found elsewhere within the town 🙂 I spotted this example on the right, outside a gift shop.