It’s been a busy couple of days!
Yesterday we attended worship at the Castle Church in the morning. Most of the service was in German but luckily the bulletin had the pieces of the service labeled in English so visitors could follow along! 😊
After worship we walked around the festival a little more. The day before, our guide had told me that he liked my Luther Rose butterfly tattoo and (correctly) assumed that I must like butterflies. He told us that there was a butterfly park a little ways away from where we were, so Mike and I wanted to try to go over there. We initially wanted to rent bikes to ride over there as it’ about four miles away, but none were available for us to rent. So, we walked. It was a little hot out, but we made it. We saw some pretty butterflies there, some even posed. 😊
After we walked back, we stopped at the Bible exhibit. There were several really cool Bibles there, and we even got to use a printing press to make a sheet with a Bible verse on it in German! Very cool! We also saw the world’s largest and smallest bibles, along with Elvis Presley’s Bible!
After we left the Bible exhibit, it was time to meet our group to head over to the Melancthon House and the Luther house.
First, we toured the Melanchthon house. Phillip Melanchthon was an important part of the Reformation. He wrote the Augsburg Confession and supported Luther in his beliefs and movement toward reform. He taught Greek at the University and he and his wife, also named Katarina, housed students in their home.
After the Melanchthon house, we went over to the Luther house, where Martin, Katarina, and their children lived in Wittenberg.
Because of the wedding celebration over the weekend, it is pertinent to talk about how Martin, a former priest, and Katarina, a former nun, ended up married to each other.
One of the things that annoyed Luther was this idea that priests and monks were somehow closer to God because they were priests and monks. He firmly believed that people could be called to be married and still be godly people, and that being a spouse could be a perfectly valid station in life.
On Easter night in 1523, Luther had enlisted the help of a rich merchant friend of his to help 12 nuns from Torgau escape their convent. They had somehow read about Luther’s thoughts and work and decided to leave the convent. So, on Easter night, they were hid on a covered wagon and brought to Wittenberg (though legend has it that they were hid in herring barrels- but many have said it’s just a legend, but it’s more likely that they were hidden among merchandise on a covered wagon).
Back then, it was not possible for a single woman to survive on her own. She either had to live with her family, get married, or go into a convent. Since Katarina and the other nuns had escaped their convent, their options at that point were to go back and live with their family or get married. Husbands were found for most of the nuns. A few went back to live with their families, and at the end- one remained: Katarina Von Bora.
Katarina had fallen in love with a student of Melanchthon’s. She wanted to marry him, and he went back to Nuremburg and was never heard from again. It is believed that when this man’s parents found out that he wanted to marry a runaway nun, they forbid it from happening because she had no dowry.
They offered another pastor for her to marry, and she refused him as well. She then said that she would marry Luther himself or no one at all.
So, on June 13th, 1525, Martin Luther and Katarina Von Bora were married in Wittenberg at the city church. They had six children- two of whom died. Their daughters Elizabeth died at 10 months old and Magdalena died when she was 13 years old.
Today, we visited Torgau to visit Katarina Von Bora’s house, her grave at St. Mary’s Church, the first chapel that was built to be specifically Lutheran and had input from Luther himself, and the ruins of the convent from which Katarina escaped.
Some information we got about Katie Luther today- her mother died when Katarina was very young. Her father placed her in the Augustinian cloister of Brehna before she was 6 years old. She then went to the Marienthron in Nimbschen and was consecreated as a nun at the age of 16 years old.
I mentioned above her arrival in Wittenberg, marriage to Luther, and their home together with their children. Because of Katarina’s education, she was quite good at taking care of the home and managing the Luthers’ finances. She brewed their own beer, helped Luther serve their many frequent guests in their home, raised vegetables, took care of animals such as cows, pigs, goats, and chickens. She was a remarkable woman!
Luther had great respect for her as well, as he violated the law in his will by making Katarina his sole heir after his death. Luther could have named his eldest son as his heir, but he named Katarina. This was not allowed to happen at that time, however, and a guardian was chosen for Katarina.
In 1552, Katarina had to leave Wittenberg because of the plague. On her way to Torgau, she was thrown from her coach she was traveling in and sustained injuries which led to her death a few months later. She is buried in St. Mary’s Church in Torgau.
One of my favorite parts of today was getting the chance to stand in a pulpit where Luther himself preached- in a church that was meant to be a Lutheran chapel that Luther gave input on decorating. I also greatly enjoyed seeing the ruins of the cloister where Katarina Von Bora was a (runaway) nun.
Oh, and the bears. The adorable, (from a safe distance away) ADORABLE bears at the castle. ❤
After we got back to Wittenberg, we ate supper at the colleg and then headed to a park that the Lutheran World Federation helped set up in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. They have the Luther garden in the middle of this park. The park is shaped like the Lutheran Rose symbol, and they planted 500 trees sprawling out from the center. In the middle of the park, are 5 trees planted by other denominations- a symbol of ecumenism that made my heart sing for joy! ❤ One of those trees planted in the center is the Roman Catholic Church, and I’d have to ask again about the others. The planting of the trees around the Cross in the center was very intentional- they didn’t want the center to be focused on Lutherans, but on the Cross.
The other trees planted have been and can be adopted by various other people and organizations for 500 euro. The plan is to have a tree planted there in Wittenberg and then to have another tree planted at the donating organization’s home- so that there are sister trees in Wittenberg and the site of the donors. I saw the ELCA’s tree, the Luther College Tree, the Wartburg College Tree and the Wartburg Seminary tree. 🙂 That park was absolutely amazing- so glad we got to see it!
Another good day- this is most certainly true!