Ehemaliges Franziskanerkloster, Weimar
The Reform movement – white and red are the blossoms of the Luther Rose
Luther inspiring – for 500 years! The German reformer fought passionately for faith and will be celebrated worldwide in the anniversary year of 2017. But what does Luther tell us today? Let's strap on a backpack, put in four of his aphorisms and go have a look in the region of dynamism and drive.
Erfurt – Birthplace of the ReformationIn Thuringia, the Reformation has left many traces. The Luther path marked with a green 'L' on a white background will lead you right to your destination and keep immersing you in Luther's biography. The capital city of Erfurt has many authentic places to offer. Luther spent ten formative years here as an avid student and devout Augustinian monk. The most important stops during his time in Erfurt are located on the 'Luther Mile'. His father had big plans when he sent his son to study law at the famous university in 1501. The starting point for his years as a student until 1505 was today's exquisitely renovated main university building – the Collegium maius. The accommodations for the studiosus were at Georgenburse. This building, with its authentic foundation, but altered in form over the centuries, invites pilgrims and hikers today to enjoy the ecumenical hostel. And just a stone's throw from there is the Hermit Monastery (Eremitenkloster) of the Augustinian monks.
Stormed by an ideaNear Stotternheim, a heavy thunderstorm on 2 July 1505 was said to have forced Luther to take shelter in a furrow. Fearing death, he vowed to join the monastery if he survived the inferno. Barely 15 days later, he made good on his word and stood at the monastery gate. The most important step toward the Reformation had been taken. – 'Faith is the beginning of all good deeds!' – The Cathedral is also associated with his monastery career. To this very day, it is the symbol of the city, a hallmark for pilgrims and believers from all over the world. Here, the deeply religious Luther received his priestly ordination in 1507. Our last visit to Erfurt is documented by the Luther monument on the Anger, which was unveiled on 31 October 1889. Residents not only proudly looked up to their reformer, but also realised the subtle humour: his back turned to the Evangelical Kaufmannskirche (Merchants Church), he looks steadily at the Catholic Ursulinenkloster (Ursulinen Cloister). One of the relief panels on the pedestal shows the next stop on the Luther trail. The Rector of the Erfurt University extends a friendly hand to Luther. The scene recalls the difficult trip to Worms in 1521, as the students rushed out of the city, all the way to Nohra, where they met and cheered.
Weimarer Land - encounters around the cornerThe small town of Nohra is aware of this historic encounter, displays it proudly on a wall painting and bears the Luther Rose in its coat of arms. The community of 1,650 residents will commemorate 2017 with a plethora of events related to its first documentation 800 years ago. For many, the Luther path near Nohra is considered the most beautiful part between Erfurt and Weimar. In spring, it regenerates us with the blossoms of meadow orchards, and in every season it offers magnificent views of nature defined by a village. It was right for the 'Arche Nohra' to be founded, preserving and shaping the surrounding landscape as a community of people with likeminded interests. Luther's wisdom accompanies us on the hike over to Weimar: 'There is no way to peace, if the way is not peace already'.
Weimar – treasure trove of picturesThe first visit should be paid to the City Castle (Stadtschloss) with its famous Cranach Gallery. The paintings of this gifted family of artists are the visual legacy of the Reformation today. In Weimar, you meet Luther repeatedly and may encounter the man and visionary face to face. Outside of the gallery, the painter dynasty left a masterpiece in the late-Gothic City Church of St. Peter and Paul, the winged altar completed in 1555. On an imposing painting of six meters in width and about four meters in height, Luther and Cranach the Elder are joined in piety.
Weimar – treasure trove of booksThe rescue was dramatic when the Duchess Anna Amalia's library went up in flames in 2004. Countless firefighters and volunteers fought to save the valuable collection. Literally in dire need, the Bible collection with its valuable Luther Bible from 1534 was rescued. Last but not least thanks to the exceptional willingness to donate, the extensively restored building was able to celebrate a spectacular grand opening three years later. Luther said: 'We should build as if we want to live forever and live as if we will die tomorrow'. Another important part of the city and history of the Reformation is the historical critical Weimar edition. Edited since 1883, the 'Weimarana' is a collection of Luther's writings, which were only completed a hundred years later in a myriad of volumes. They are among the most important achievements of German philology and even continued as a joint project during the division of Germany. Let us also drop in on the classic city. Because Luther stayed in the old Franciscan monastery at Palais multiple times. A plaque recalls this. And if you end up in front of the historic building at the right time, you won't hear angels singing, but the music coming from the students at the Weimar FRANZ LISZT School of Music will sound heavenly.
Apolda – church music for the heart and earsThe tremendous importance of music for Luther can be seen in his active song writing and is underscored by his motto taken from Augustine, the antique father of the church, 'He who sings prays twice!' His hymns are pillars of protestant church music. Weimarer Land has 160 city and town churches, and some have special musical programs every year. The opening act in 2017 will be spectacular – a concert by 'RELIQUIAE', a medieval rock band from Osnabrück, given in the Apolda Luther Church. And the region of dynamism and drive will extend a hand when the Vokalkreis and the Apolda Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Cantor Mike Nych, present 'Sacred choral music' by Schütz or Brahms in the Jena AdventGemeinde. But before we continue down the chain of cities, let us make a detour to the neighbouring Niederroßla. The town, with its imposing moated castle, is home to more than just its beautiful Baroque church – it has another jewel: the tombstone of Luther's niece Margaret Mackenrot. It's worth a visit.
Jena – Luther hot off the pressIt has been preserved to this very day – thank God: the stone pulpit in the Jena City Church of St. Michael, where Luther preached against the raging German Peasants' War. Right across the way, on the North wall, a bronze tombstone will surprise you, as it shows Luther himself, almost life-size. Jena can present the original because it remained in the city on the Saale due to the turbulence resulting from the Schmalkaldic War and Wittenberg's defeat. And by the way, the template goes back to the Cranach workshop, and the wooden model for the bronze casting is on display in Erfurt's Andreas Church. And the residents of Jena guard another treasure as well. Close to the city church, Thuringian University and State Library has preserved a wealth of originals, documents and prints on the history of the Reformation. They include gems such as Luther's handwritten copies of the Old and New Testament as well as the transcripts by his companion Georg Rörer. Want more? Jena – the City of Light – will also have a real highlight in Reformation Year 2017: the historical printing of the Jena Luther Edition. In the Gothic buildings, the Sacristy and Chapter House of the Carmelite Monastery – the sole surviving architectural testimony of the order in Thuringia incidentally – visitors will find archaeological material telling the story of the Reformation, including printing letters, colour containers and book locks. In the secularized monastery rooms, a printing press was set up after the Schmalkaldic War, specifically to preserve Luther's doctrine in a pure form. The Jena Edition published Luther's writings only in German without commentary. – The foundation for more theological Lutheranism!
The crux of the great reformer's faith and doctrine was always the Bible. Once, in a sermon for Easter Monday, he drew an analogy: 'The Holy Scriptures are a river in which an elephant must swim and a lamb may walk'. This should encourage you to let your thoughts flow freely and help you on the path to Luther – in spirit or by foot. Blessed are your paths!
We cannot know all the things that Luther and the Reformation in general have done for us
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Augustinerkloster mit Haus der Versöhnung und Waidhaus - Ort der Einkehr
Kirchgarten in Nohra
Lutherrose im Kirchenfenster, Evangelisches Augustinerkloster zu Erfurt
Der ca. 900 km lange Lutherweg führt auch durch Jenas Innenstadt
Stadtkirche „St. Michael“, Jena
Stadtkirche „St. Michael“, Jena
Knowledge to go
True to the bible'Adam and Eve ahead of Little Red Riding Hood' – that is how 'Chrismon', the protestant church's magazine, titled its June 2016 edition. This was to illustrate a survey indicating that the Bible is still found on more German bookshelves than Grimm's fairy tales.
A word acrobatLuther did a lot for the German language and is still on everyone's lips. His pictorial neologisms include 'Gewissensbisse' (bit by conscience), 'Richtschnur' (guideline), or 'Feuertaufe' (baptism by fire).
Relic tradingSplinters from the wooden pillars of the Wittenberg Luther House were long considered a magic remedy for toothache and were traded as value objects.
Leap of knowledgeLuther's youngest son, Paul, was one of the first professors at the University of Jena in the winter semester of 1558. As a physician, he dealt with chemical pharmaceutical research and taught about kidney stones.
Family treeCurrently, there are about 2,800 Luther descendants who trace their line directly to Luther or his siblings.
Bonus tips on white-red
ErfurtKirchentag auf dem Weg’ from 25-28 May 2017, with the theme of 'Licht auf Luther' (Insight into Luther) – including the Celebration of the Meeting, '500 Thuringian Cakes for Erfurt'
Weimarer LandExhibition 'Jesus Reloaded – from Chagall to Rauschenberg' at the Apolda Avant-Garde House of Art (printed works of modernism and post-modernism from the unique collection of 'Stiftung für Christliche Kunst Lutherstadt Wittenberg') from 15 January to 26 March 2017
JenaKirchentag auf dem Weg’ from 25–28 May 2017 with a presentation of the Luther Bible www.r2017.org