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Monday, June 1, 2015

Day 5, Wittenberg

We took the train to Wittenberg, where Martin Luther lived with his family and where he posted the 95 Theses.  We took the train from Berlin--about 45 minutes.  The maps I had printed showed us dropped off at a different location, so we walked for 1/2 hour on the outside of town before we saw the church spire and headed in.

The Schlosskirche, or castle church is closed for renovations leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.  We knew that would be the case.  It was a church, a seminary, and a castle.  Later it was a military barracks.  We walked around the outside and took pictures.  I took some comfort in knowing that very little was the same as in Martin Luther's day.  I felt connected to him all through the town.  He was buried here and everywhere I went I imagined him standing in that spot, seeing the things I was seeing, thinking whatever thoughts he was thinking, maybe carrying one of his infant children here to be baptized at this church.

On the way to the other side of town, we stopped at the Lucas Cranach house.  Here, he ran a pharmacy and a painting school.  Both a pharmacy and painting school still exist at this location.  He was a genius.

I thought the Staadtkirche, or state church, would also be closed, but it wasn't.  Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon both preached there.  It is considered the mother church of the reformation since this was the first place the mass was held in German and both wine and bread were distributed to the congregation during communion.  It was a very similar layout to St. Andreaskirche that we visited in Luebbecke.  There were many great works of art here, paintings, sculptures, and carving.  There were several works by Cranach, including the altar piece which was similar to the one in Hannover.  As we exited, the church bells starting ringing the noon hour and went on for some time.  It was a beautiful sound on a gorgeous day. Here is a picture of the interior of the Staadtkirche:

We walked to Lutherhaus where he lived with his wife and children.  The house was formerly an Augustinian Monastery where Luther had stayed as a monk and as a professor.  He wrote the 95 Theses here.  It was later given to him by the Electorate of Saxony after the Reformation started and monasteries were abandoned.  Very little remains of what it was like when Martin Luther and his family lived there, but it was still interesting to think of him in the space, maybe looking out the window, or entertaining guests.

The things that stuck out in my mind were that his wife, a former nun, refused to marry the former monk assigned to her when she abandoned the abbey, but instead chose Martin Luther for her husband.  Martin Luther translated the Koran into German as well!  Also, there was a letter written by Martin Luther regarding his wife's choice of a trunk for storing clothes.  Apparently they were quite poor, since Martin Luther received no wages as a professor.  She had several garden plots throughout the town that she tended to raise food for the household.  They took in boarders, seminary students especially, to make an income.  They were given most of what they had, but apparently this particular trunk that they were given Katie was complaining about.  It left rust stains on the clothes, and that was where they kept their clothes all the time.

There were so many Lucas Cranach paintings here--all the famous Luther and Katie ones, plus ones of Martin Luther's parents, many of Philip Melanchthon, and many Kings and other royalty.

One of Martin Luther's last robes was on display there, the first complete edition of Luther's Bible translation into German complete with his own handwriting in the margins, and his death mask.   Martin Luther's study was the only room that was kept mostly as it may have been in his time.  Most amazing was the huge (7 feet tall, 5 feet long and 3 feet wide) ceramic stove that was like the one used to heat the room:

Most of the top floor is ancient books, hundreds of shelves of books of all kinds.  It is a historical library, really.

After this, I mailed the postcards and we went back to Berlin.

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