Dr. Luthers Life - Continued





Coat of arms of the University of Wittenberg

Wood, 17th/18th century.
(From the Evangelical Preachers’)




Johann Tetzel’s sale of indulgences

"When the coin in the coffer rings,another soul from purgatory springs."




Funeral sermon for Luther

Funeral sermon for Luther in the Castle Church in Wittenberg Woodcut, 1557, from: Ludwig Rabus: ‘Historien der heiligen auserwählten Gotteszeugen,’ (Stories of God’s sacred chosen witnesses) Strasbourg 1557

Johannes Bugenhagen held the funeral service in the presence of Luther’s relatives, representatives of the Saxon dynasty, university professors and the mourning inhabitants of Wittenberg. He used the customary biblical text, namely 1 Thes. 4,13 p. With reference to Michael Stiefel, 1522, he identified Luther as the Angel of Revelation. Philipp Melanchthon held the subsequent memorial service, making no secret of the fact that Luther was no "saint," but rather a person with very human attributes.




The Augustinian Monastery in Wittenberg - Luther’s residence

The Luther House 1998

The Luther House was originally built as a monastery for the Augustinian hermits who had settled there. The Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise, had the house constructed in connection with the university he had founded in Wittenberg in 1502. Parts of the former Holy Ghost Hospital were incorporated into the monastery during its construction between June 1504 and 1507. Only the southern wing of the planned cloistered building was ever completed. Its cloistered arcade was, however, demolished prior to 1556. Extensive alterations were carried out in 1518. Nevertheless, only the so-called ‘sleeping-house’ had been completed when the monks dissipated in 1522. This multi-purpose monastery building encompassed four large lecture halls, together with the refectory and the bible classroom. Further monastic buildings were planned at the cloister, but only a few outbuildings were ever completed. The small hospital chapel, which had existed here prior to 1503, served as monastery church. A new church construction never got beyond the rudiments.

Martin Luther was assigned this building as his own home by the sovereign in 1524, the monastery having dissipated in 1522. He lived here with his family after his marriage in 1525. In 1532 the building was officially given to him as a ‘free house’ by the Elector. Luther altered the building from 1535 onwards. He extended the basement, converted the west wing into his family’s residence. ‘Luther’s sitting room,’ which is still well intact, dates back to this time. His wife, Katharina von Bora, ordered the construction of a large portal with seats on niches and a keel arch finial.

Ownership and use of the monastery

Augustinian monastery, thereafter entrusted to Luther as his own private residence

Officially Luther’s property

Inherited by Katharina Luther

Bought by the university; college, students’ dining hall, residence for students and university officials

Hospital for Napoleonic troops

Part of the Royal Preachers’ Seminary

A seminary school was established on the ground floor

The Luther House was opened as a Museum of Reformation History




The alteration of Luthers house into a university college

The Luther House; lithograph by Eduard Dietrich, 1826-29 This illustration shows the Luther House in 1566. Only the superstructures on the roof had been removed in the 17th century. The garden is newly laid out.

The building was altered in 1565 and 1566 after it had been sold to the university by Luther’s heirs. The large spiral staircase on the northern side was added, a kitchen was built onto the exterior, the vaulting added to the ‘Konvikt’ (as the erstwhile refectory was now called) in keeping with the tradition of a monastic dining room, and new window frames were inserted. The interior alterations were also extensive: a tiled stove was placed in every room, the doors were remounted and obtained new locks. The construction was neglected during the Thirty Years’ War, after which alterations were made yet again, such as the removal of the roof gables in 1655.

The gradual movement towards restoration in the 19th century

The Saxon town Wittenberg was ceded to Prussia during the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic wars, and the university relocated to Halle. The famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel presented a report on the constructional condition and possible utilization of the Luther House on 14 August 1815. Schinkel suggested that the house no longer be used as a military hospital, but rather in a manner in keeping with its reformatory significance and tradition. In 1817 the Luther House thus became part of the newly founded Royal Preachers’ Seminary. In 1832 Schinkel advocated the continued use and maintenance of the building yet again.




Reconstruction Measures

The Luther House after completion of reconstruction measures; wood engraving, approximately 1890




Luthers House in the 30's

The Luther House with new trowel plastering, after 1932




Katharina’s portal

Sandstone was shipped on the River Elbe from the Elbe sandstone mountains for the construction of this renaissance portal. Katharina Luther is said to have given her husband this portal for his 57th birthday in 1540, the date 1540 being chiseled over the portal. The first three dimensional stone image of the Reformer, with reference to his age, is shown above the left seat, the Luther Rose being represented on the medallion above the right seat.




The Luther rose

Cast of the medallion on Katharina’s Portal to the Luther House Inscription: "VIVIT" - "He (Jesus Christ) lives"

The Reformer had used a stylized rose as a seal for his letters as early as 1517. From 1524 onwards he also utilized the rose as a bookplate to protect against pirated editions.

Prince John Frederick (the later Elector), while at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, initiated that a new signet ring with the rose be made in Nuremberg for Martin Luther. He gave this ring to the Reformer on the ‘Veste Coburg’ (i.e. the citadel of Coburg) on 14 September 1530 while en route home. Lazarus Spenglers, the town clerk of Nuremberg, had asked Luther what exactly the Luther Rose symbolized while the ring was being made. Luther explained the symbolism of his crest as follows:
"As you wish to know whether I have selected my seal - the symbol of my theology - correctly, I will share with you the first concepts I had about this seal when designing it. The cross must come first, black and within a heart, which has its natural colour, so that I can be reminded that it is our faith in Christ crucified which makes us blessed and happy. He who sincerely believes, will be righteous?... Such a heart should be placed in the centre of a white rose, to grant my faith joy, comfort and peace.... This is why the rose must be white and not red, as white is the colour of all spirits, souls and angels. Such a rose in turn is in the middle of a sky-coloured field symbolizing heaven; my joy in faith is the beginning and my heavenly bliss is the future. The golden ring around the sky coloured field is a symbol of my eternal happiness in heaven, a bliss which is greater than all joy and possessions. It is gold as gold is the most precious and exquisite ore."




"Establish in us 0 God! that which "Thou hast wrought, and perfect the work "which Thou hast begun in us to Thy "glory, Amen."


God bless.

Dr. Eyman


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