Martin Luther Biography

Martin Luther (Eisleben, Germany, 10 November 1483 – ibid., 18 February 1546). Theologian, Augustinian Monk and Religious Leader, who changed the Catholic Church forever, when he embarked on the movement called the Protestant Reformation.

He was also the first to translate the Bible into the German language, making it possible for the people to read. He is considered one of the most influential people in history.

Early years

He was born in the city of Eisleben, southeastern Germany, on November 10, 1483. His family was of peasant origin, although his father Hans Luther had decided to devote himself to the mining business. In 1484, his family moved to Mansfeld.

His father wanted his son to study law, in order to spare him a job as hard as the one he held. Martin Luther began his studies at the age of seven at the Mansfeld School. In 1501, he entered the University of Erfurt, where he obtained a Master of Arts, deepening his studies in Grammar, Rhetoric, Metaphysics and Logic.

Promise to St. Anne

In 1505, he lived a life-changing experience. According to this version, he got caught in a thunderstorm. Feeling great anguish for his life, he invoked Saint Anne, patron saint of the miners, promising that if he saved himself, he would become a monk. The storm calmed down, and Luther was saved, feeling from that event the need to keep his promise.

However, some researchers believe that at that time Luther had a vocation for religious life, but fearing disappointing his father, he would unconsciously have sought a way to justify his decision. In 1505 he joined the Augustinian order.

However, his early years were quite difficult, as Luther could not find that spiritual enlightenment that for some was the main cause of his admission to the monastery. Finally, he was ordained as a priest in 1507, teaching at the University of Wittenberg.

Start of the Reformation

In 1510, when he was 27 years old, he made a trip to Rome, in order to serve as a delegate at a conference. Luther was shocked by the corruption he saw on the part of the priests.

He returned very disappointed, and enrolled immediately to study a doctorate in theology at the University of Wittenberg, in order to try to give answers to his great concerns. In 1512, he graduated as a Theologian.

From then on he devoted himself to Teaching and the study of theological subjects, finally achieving in them the spiritual peace he longed for. In 1515, he concluded that salvation was achieved only through faith in God, and not through fear of him or through the Church.

In 1517, Pope Leo X announced the sale of new indulgences, in order to finance the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther raged.

On October 31, 1517, he nailed a contentious document of his 95 theses, in which he spoke out against the sale of indulgences and the people who bought them.

He sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, demanding an end to the commercialization of these documents. With the help of the printing press, he managed to send his work to the whole of Europe in less than two months.


The Church decided to intervene. In 1518, he held a meeting with Cardinal Thomas Cayetano, which ended in screams, when Luther refused to retract, arguing that he would do so at least to show him the part of the scriptures that proved him wrong.

He even went so long as to claim that the Papacy was not the only one authorized to interpret them. For the next two years, Luther lectured and wrote several of his works, about his views against several of the Church’s teachings.

In January 1521, he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Leo X. He was later invited to attend an assembly in Rome, called diet of Worms, which he refused to go to. Following his refusal to retract, Emperor Charles V declared him a heretic. Luther fled his conviction, hiding in Wartburg Castle.

A new Christian Church

In May 1522, he returned to Wittenberg, evading his arrest warrant. At that time he began to organize a new Church, together with the great number of followers and the support of the princes of Germany.

In 1524, a group of peasants, inspired by his message, rose up against their rulers. Luther favored the authorities, according to some detractors, because they were funding his new Church. Thousands of peasants were put to justice. A year later he married Catherine de Bora, a former religious with whom he had six children.

Late years

During the year 1534, Martin Luther published a translation of the Bible, entirely in German, getting many to have access to the actual content of the holy scriptures in his own language, so he is also considered a fundamental player in the process of strengthening and vitality of this vernacular.

Until the end of his days, he served as Dean of Theology at the University of Wittenberg. On 18 February 1546, Luther died at the age of 72, while on a trip to his hometown of Eisleben.

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Martin Luther Biography
Source: Education  
July 28, 2019

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