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This Day In History: Martin Luther and the 95 Theses

“Portrait of Martin Luther” c. 1533
by Lucas Cranach the Elder
“Portrait of Martin Luther” was painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a close friend of Martin Luther. This shows the Protestant Reformer in three-quarter profile, wearing the distinctive black Protestant vestments. "Cranach was the court painter to the electors of Saxony in Wittenberg, an area in the heart of the emerging Protestant faith. His patrons were powerful supporters of Martin Luther, and Cranach used his art to support the new faith. Cranach made numerous portraits of Luther and provided woodcut illustrations for Luther’s German translation of the Bible. The oldest reference to Cranach in Luther’s correspondence dates from 1520. Cranach first made an engraving of Luther in 1520, when Luther was an Augustinian friar. Five years later, Luther renounced his religious vows, and Cranach was a witness at the betrothal festival of Luther and Katharina von Bora. He was also godfather to their first child, Johannes “Hans” Luther, born 1526." (Source of photo and caption: Joy of Museums)

This Day In History: 500 years ago Pope Leo X signed the papal bull Exsurge Domine ("Arise, O Lord") on June 15, 1520 demanding Martin Luther to retract 41 of his 95 theses and other specified errors. Legend has it that the Augustinian monk and theologian approached the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 and nailed to it a piece of paper containing the monk's revolutionary opinions that would trigger the Protestant Reformation. (95 Theses Credit: Uncommon Travel Germany)

The Pope gave him up to sixty days to recant, however, Luther only fueled the flame when he publicly burned the papal decree while tenaciously adhering to his protestations. He was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church on January 3, 1521 in a succeeding papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem ("[It] befits [the] Roman Pontiff").




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