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+ Katharina von Bora Luther +
20 December AD 1552
Financial and marital circumstances led Katharina von Bora's (b.1499) parents to place her in a convent when she was but a child of five. In 1515, she became a nun. Later, she and some of her associates heard clear proclamation of Gospel through the Lutheran Reformation. This Gospel message soon changed their beliefs and their lives.
Convinced that the vows they had taken were contrary to God's word, Katharina joined eight other nuns who desired to renounce the cloistered life. In April 1523 they were rescued from the convent and smuggled away to Wittenberg among empty herring barrels. Martin Luther
and his associates helped some of these women return to their former homes while placing others with good families. Most of them were soon married.
However, Luther and friends found that dealing with "Katie" was no easy task. She rejected a number of prospective husbands, finally declaring that she'd marry either Martin or Nikolaus von Amsdorf
— and nobody else. While he worried that a violent death would soon part him from any bride, Martin gave in to the stubborn young woman. They were married on 13 June 1525. Their happy marriage was blessed with six children. Katie skillfully managed the Luther household, which seemed to grow ever larger because of his generous hospitality.
Martin and Katie certainly butted heads at times. Perhaps that's why Luther sometimes called her kette
(chain). However, the reformer truly adored his bride, also naming her "my Rib" and "my lord Katie." The freedom and joy that he experienced in his marriage received testimony from his 1535 Commentary on Galatians
, which Luther lovingly called, "My Katie von Bora."
After Martin's death in 1546, Katie remained in Wittenberg. Sadly, she lived most of her remaining years in poverty. Her 1552 death came after an accident she suffered while traveling with her children to Torgau in order to escape the plague.
Katharina Luther remains a wonderful example of godly womanhood, beautifully portraying the "excellent wife" celebrated in Proverbs 31:10-31
For more on Katie Luther, visit the online exhibit
at Concordia Historical Institute. These portraits of Martin and Katharina Luther were painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder during the first year of their marriage. The originals are in the Wartburg Collection in Eisenach.
Proverbs 31:10-31 or 31:10-12, 17, 20, 23, 25-31
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
Dear heavenly Father, You establish marriage to bless and benefit all mankind and to testify to the world of the marriage of Christ and His Bride the Church. Grant that, as You led Katharina von Bora to become the wife of Martin Luther and, through her, blessed not only him but all Christendom, so You would also seal and protect marriages in our day, that families, society, and Church would be strengthened, stabilized, and nurtured until You call us to the wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end; through this same Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
A world that disregarded The gift of married life
Saw God call saintly Katie As Martin’s faithful wife.
Her self she gave completely To him, who loved his Rib;
Submission, strength, and courage, Her testaments, still live.
Commemorative hymn stanza
from Ask the Pastor
is © 2006 by Walter P. Snyder and used according to permission granted.
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