Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German former Roman Catholic (Augustinian) friar and priest who became the most influential and significant figure in the Reformation, which gave birth to Protestant Christianity. His translation of the Bible from Latin to German, while not the first in Germany, became influential in opening the possibility of making the Bible more accessible in the mother tongue. It also contributed to the evolution of the modern German language. Lutheranism is an offshoot of Protestantism exclusively based on Luther’s own theology.
Here are other facts of Martin Luther that you probably didn’t know:
The Lutherhaus was originally built in 1504 as a university and monastery which was turned into a home for Martin Luther for the rest of his adult life. Of course, he also raised his family there. It was in Lutherhaus where he also spent time writing a considerable portion of his Ninety-Five Theses, which criticized the sold indulgences (which are like remission of the sinner from punishment after confession and receiving absolution) of the Roman Catholic church and became the starting point of the Reformation.
After Luther’s death in 1546, the building served first as a boarding school, and then a military hospital. The Lutherhaus survived the attack during the Seven Years’ War, but it had started to deteriorate badly. Restoration and rebuilding of the Lutherhaus took place in the mid-19th century. It now serves as a museum which contains the original objects Luther used (including the pulpit and his monk’s habit).
Martin Luther refused to retract his Ninety-Five Theses and as a result, he was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo X. Not only that, Emperor Charles V issued the final draft, from the council meeting famously known as the Diet of Worms, which declared Luther as an outlaw and a heretic. The emperor’s edict declared that his writings should be banned and ordered his arrest and punishment. Because of this, he fled and went into hiding at Wartburg Castle in the town of Eisenach, Germany, where he translated the New Testament from Greek into German.
Martin Luther’s birth name was actually Martin Luder. He later changed his “Luder” to the more academically-sounding “Luther” based on the Greek name “Eleutherios” (“free”). Besides, “Luther” sounds better indeed than “Luder.”
The Luther Monument (Lutherdenkmal), dedicated to the famed Reformer, is located in the city of Worms, Germany. This is where the Diet of Worms, which condemned Martin Luther as an outlaw and heretic, took place during the 16th century. The monument itself was designed by the German sculptor Ernst Friedrich August Rietschel in 1868.
Martin Luther once commented that he had not seen a Bible until he was 20, but he went on to translate Erasmus’ New Testament from Greek into German during his hiding at Wartburg Castle.
Martin Luther’s Death House (Martin Luthers Sterbehaus) is a building where Martin Luther was thought to have died in February 1846. After two years of restoration and extension (to also serve as a museum) which cost about 5.8 million euros, the house was re-opened in February 2013. Unfortunately, around the same time, it was eventually discovered that Martin Luther actually died in another building located at Am Markt 56, not too far from the now-“impostor” death house. The real death house of Luther is now owned by what is known as Hotel Graf Mansfeld, which has no interest in turning into a museum or a pilgrimage center.
Martin Luther, during his hiding at Wartburg Castle, after he was condemned as an outlaw and heretic, translated the New Testament from Greek into his mother language. He did this at a rather hurried pace — 1,500 words a day!
During his years as a Catholic monk, Luther rose as a district vicar within the Augustinian order in which he belonged. He even went on to supervise the administration of ten monasteries in Thuringia and Saxony, apart from regularly preaching at his parish.
Martin Luther also became proficient at playing the lute, but he later gave it away when he decided to enter the monastery when he was 21. However, when he became a reformer he believed in music and songs as a way to strengthen one’s faith. Luther often accompanied most of his self-penned hymns with the lute.
Before entering religious life, Martin Luther was on the path of becoming a lawyer as his own father wanted him to be. He had earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree probably in around the same time in 1505.
Martin Luther owed his decision to become a monk to this crucial event that radically changed his life. He was once a happy-go-lucky law student who had just earned his master’s degree and was about to enter law school. One day when he was riding back to university after visiting his parents, he was caught in a frightening thunderstorm. A lightning bolt almost struck him and his horse and he was thrust to the ground by its impact. Fearing for his life, he cried out: “Help! Saint Anna, I will become a monk!” But even before the thunderstorm led him to his ultimate decision, he had already entertained the thought of entering monastic life.
Luther’s decision to become a monk, unsurprisingly, met the fury of his father who had dreams of him becoming a lawyer.