Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; we also remembered the 450th anniversary of Mr. (Bp., Salisbury) John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed defense, An Apology of the Church of England. In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. Our book for October 2014 is Francis Turretin's 3-volume "Institutes of Elenctic Theology" at: Our book for November 2014 is Calvin's magnum opus, the "Institutes of Christian Religion" at: Our book for December 2014 is Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

NYC Police turn their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio

21 December 1552 A.D. Katie Luther Buried at City Church (“St. Mary’s), Torgau, Germany—Wife of Martin Luther

21 December 1552 A.D. Katie Luther Buried at City Church (“St. Mary’s), Torgau, Germany—Wife of Martin Luther

December 21, 1552: Katie Luther was buried at the City Church (St. Mary’s) in Torgau, Germany. Between the plague spreading through the area and the Emperor waging war against the German princes, it was not considered safe to return Katie’s body to Wittenberg to be buried next to Martin’s.


Katharina von Bora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Katharina von Bora (Luther)
Portrait of Katharina von Bora by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526 Oil on panel, Warburg-Stiftung, Eisenach, Germany
(1499-01-29)January 29, 1499
near Pegau, Electorate of Saxony, Holy Roman Empire
December 20, 1552(1552-12-20) (aged 53)
Torgau, Electorate of Saxony,
Holy Roman Empire
Martin Luther (1525–1546)

Katharina von Bora, referred to as "die Lutherin" (January 29, 1499 – December 20, 1552), was the wife of Martin Luther, German leader of the Protestant Reformation. Beyond what is found in the writings of Luther and some of his contemporaries, little is known about her. Despite this, Katharina is often considered one of the most important participants of the Reformation because of her role in helping to define Protestant family life and setting the tone for clergy marriages.



Origin and family background

Katharina von Bora was daughter to a family of Saxon landed gentry.[1] According to common belief, she was born on 29 January 1499 in Lippendorf; however, there is no evidence of this date from contemporary documents. Due to the various lineages within the family and the uncertainty towards Katharina's birth name, there were and are diverging theories about her place of birth.[2][3]

Lately, however, a different view upon this matter has been proposed: that she was born in Hirschfeld and that her parents are supposed to have been a Hans von Bora zu Hirschfeld and his wife Anna von Haugwitz.[4] Neither can be historically proven. It is also possible that Katharina was the daughter of a Jan von Bora auf Lippendorf and his wife Margarete, whose family name has not been established. Both were only specifically mentioned in the year 1505.[5]

Life as a nun

It is certain that her father sent the five year old Katherina to the Benedictine cloister in Brehna in 1504 for education. This is documented in a letter from Laurentius Zoch to Martin Luther, written on October 30, 1531. This letter is the only evidence for Katherina von Bora's time spent within the monastery.[6] At the age of nine she moved to the Cistercian monastery Marienthron (Mary's Throne) in Nimbschen, near Grimma, where her maternal aunt was already a member of the community.[7] Katharina is well documented at this monastery in a provision list of 1509/10.[8]

After several years of religious life, Katharina became interested in the growing reform movement and grew dissatisfied with her life in the monastery. Conspiring with several other nuns to flee in secrecy, she contacted Luther and begged for his assistance.

On Easter eve, 4 April 1523, Luther sent Leonhard Köppe, a city councilman of Torgau and merchant who regularly delivered herring to the monastery. The nuns successfully escaped by hiding in Köppe's covered wagon among the fish barrels, and fled to Wittenberg. A local student wrote to a friend: 'A wagon load of vestal virgins has just come to town, all more eager for marriage than for life. God grant them husbands lest worse befall."[9]

Luther at first asked the parents and relations of the refugee nuns to admit them again into their houses, but they declined to receive them, possibly as this was participating in a crime under canon law.[10] Within two years, Luther was able to arrange homes, marriages, or employment for all of the escaped nuns—except for Katharina. She first was housed with the family of Philipp Reichenbach, the city clerk of Wittenberg, and later went to the home of Lucas Cranach the Elder and his wife, Barbara. Katharina had a number of suitors, including Wittenberg University alumnus Jerome (Hieronymus) Baumgärtner (1498–1565) of Nuremberg and a pastor, Kaspar Glatz of Orlamünde, but none of the proposed matches resulted in marriage. Finally, she told Luther’s friend and fellow reformer, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, that she would be willing to marry only Luther or him.

Marriage to Luther


Kattarina Lutterin, as the script reads, depicted by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526


Martin Luther

Martin Luther eventually married Katharina on June 13, 1525, before witnesses including Justus Jonas, Johannes Bugenhagen, and Barbara and Lucas Cranach the Elder.[11] There was a wedding breakfast the next morning with a small company, but two weeks later, on June 27, they held a more formal public ceremony which was presided over by Bugenhagen.[12] Von Bora was 26 years old, Luther 41. The couple took up residence in the "Black Cloister" (Augusteum), the former dormitory and educational institution for Augustinian friars studying in Wittenberg, given as a wedding gift by the reform-minded John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, who was the son and nephew of Luther's protectors, John, Elector of Saxony and Frederick III, Elector of Saxony.[13]

Katharina immediately took on the task of administering and managing the vast holdings of the monastery, breeding and selling cattle, and running a brewery in order to provide for their family and the steady stream of students who boarded with them and visitors seeking audiences with her husband. In times of widespread illness, Katharina operated a hospital on site, ministering to the sick alongside other nurses. Luther called her the "boss of Zulsdorf," after the name of the farm they owned, and the "morning star of Wittenberg" for her habit of rising at 4 a.m. to take care of her various responsibilities.

In addition to her busy life tending to the lands and grounds of the monastery, Katharina bore six children: Johannes (Hans) (1526–75), Elizabeth (1527–28) who died at eight months, Magdalena (1529–42) who died at thirteen years, Martin Jr. (1531–1565), Paul (1533–93), and Margarete (1534–70); in addition she suffered a miscarriage in 1539. The Luthers also raised four orphan children, including Katharina's nephew, Fabian.[14]

Anecdotal evidence indicates that Katharina von Bora’s role as the wife of a critical member of the Reformation paralleled the marital teachings of Luther and the movement. Katharina depended on Luther such as for his incomes before the estate’s profits increased, thanks to her. She respected him as a higher vessel and called him formally “Sir Doctor” throughout her life. He reciprocated such respect by occasionally consulting her on church matters.[15] She assisted him with running the menial estate duties as he couldn’t complete both these and those to the church and university. Katharina also directed the renovations done to accommodate the size of their operations. [16]

After Luther's death


Katharina von Bora, 1546

When Martin Luther died in 1546, Katharina was left in difficult financial straits without Luther's salary as professor and pastor, even though she owned land, properties, and the Black Cloister. She was counselled by Martin Luther to move out of the old abbey and sell it, after his death, into much more modest quarters with the children who remained at home, but she refused.[17] Almost immediately thereafter, Katharina had to leave the Black Cloister on her own at the outbreak of the Schmalkaldic War, from which she fled to Magdeburg. After her return the approach of the war forced another flight in 1547, this time to Braunschweig. In July of that year, at the close of the war, she was at last able to return to Wittenberg. After the war the buildings and lands of the monastery had been torn apart and laid waste, the cattle and other farm animals were stolen or killed. If she would have sold the land and the buildings, she could have had a good financial situation. As it was, economically, they could not remain there. Katharina was able to support herself thanks to the generosity of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony and the princes of Anhalt.[citation needed]

She remained in Wittenberg in poverty until 1552, when an outbreak of the Black Plague and a harvest failure forced her to leave the city once again. She fled to Torgau where her cart was involved in a bad accident near the city gates, seriously injuring Katharina. She died in Torgau about three months later on December 20, 1552 at the age of fifty-three and was buried at Torgau's Saint Mary's Church, far from her husband's grave in Wittenberg. She is reported to have said on her deathbed, "I will stick to Christ as a burr to cloth."[citation needed]

By the time of Katharina's death, the surviving Luther children were adults. After Katharina's death, the Black Cloister was sold back to the university in 1564 by his heirs. Hans studied law and became a court advisor. Martin studied theology, but never had a regular pastoral call. Paul became a physician. He fathered six children and the male line of the Luther family continued through him to John Ernest Luther, ending in 1759. Margareta Luther, born in Wittenberg on December 17, 1534, married into a noble, wealthy Prussian family, to Georg von Kunheim (Wehlau, July 1, 1523 – Mühlhausen, October 18, 1611, the son of Georg von Kunheim (1480–1543) and wife Margarethe, Truchsessin von Wetzhausen (1490–1527)) but died in Mühlhausen in 1570 at the age of thirty-six. Her descendants have continued to modern times, including German President Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934) and the Counts zu Eulenburg and Princes zu Eulenburg und Hertefeld.[citation needed]


She is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of some Lutheran Churches in the United States on December 20.



  • Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, New York: Penguin, 1995, c1950. 336 p. ISBN 0-452-01146-9.
  • Roland H. Bainton, Women of the Reformation in Germany and Italy, Augsburg Fortress Publishers (Hardcover), 1971. ISBN 0-8066-1116-2. Academic Renewal Press (Paperback), 2001. 279 p. ISBN 0-7880-9909-4.
  • Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed. The Reformation: A Narrative History Related by Contemporary Observers and Participants, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979.
  • E. Jane Mall, Kitty, My Rib, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959. ISBN 0-570-03113-3.
  • Luther's Works, 55 volumes of lectures, commentaries and sermons, translated into English and published by Concordia Publishing House and Fortress Press, 1957; released on CD-ROM, 2001.
  • Heiko A. Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, trans. Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart (New York: Image, 1992).
  • Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: Shaping and Defining the Reformation, 1521–1532, trans. James L. Schaaf (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990); esp. chapter 4, "Marriage, Home, and Family (1525-30)."
  • Yvonne Davy, Frau Luther.
  • Karant-Nunn, Susan C., and Merry E. Wiesner. Luther On Women : A Sourcebook. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 3 Dec. 2014.
  • Treu, Martin. "Katharina Von Bora, The Woman At Luther's Side." Lutheran Quarterly 13.2 (1999): 156-178. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.


1.      Jump up ^ Fischer/v.Stutterheim in: AfF (2005) pp. 242ff; Wagner in: Genealogie (2005) pp. 673ff, Genealogie (2006) pp. 30ff; Wagner in FFM (2006), pp. 342ff

2.      Jump up ^ D. Albrecht Thoma, Katharina von Bora: Geschichtliches Lebensbild (1900)

3.      Jump up ^ Fischer/v.Stutterheim, 'Zur Herkunft der Katharina v. Bora, Ehefrau Martin Luthers', in AfF (2005), pp. 242ff; Jürgen Wagner, 'Zur mutmaßlichen Herkunft der Catherina v. Bora' in Genealogie (2005), pp. 730ff, Genealogie (2006), pp. 30ff; Jürgen Wagner in FFM (2006), pp. 342ff

4.      Jump up ^ Georg von Hirschfeld, 'Die Beziehungen Luthers und seiner Gemahlin, Katharina von Bora, zur Familie von Hirschfeld' in Beiträge zur sächssischen Kirchengeschichte (1883), pp. 83ff; Wolfgang Liebehenschel, Der langsame Aufstieg des Morgensterns von Wittenberg (Oschersleben, 1999), p. 79

5.      Jump up ^ Jürgen Wagner, 'Zur Geschichte der Familie v. Bora und einiger Güter in den sächsischen Ämtern Borna und Pegau: Wer waren Martin Luthers Schwiegereltern?' in Genealogie (2010), p. 300

6.      Jump up ^ D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Briefwechsel. 6. Band. Weimar 1935 Nr. 1879 s. 219

7.      Jump up ^ "500th Anniversary of Katharina von Bora". Augustana. Retrieved 2014-02-22. 

8.      Jump up ^ CDS Codex Diplomaticus Saxoniae Regiae II 15 Nr. 455

9.      Jump up ^ Bainton, Here I Stand, p. 223.

10. Jump up ^  Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Bora, Katharina von". Encyclopedia Americana. 

11. Jump up ^ Rix, Herbert David (1983). Martin Luther: the man and the image. Ardent Media. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8290-0554-7. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 

13. Jump up ^ D. Martin Luthers Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Tischreden. 6 vols. Weimar: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nochfolger, 1912–21

14. Jump up ^ Peterson, Susan Lynn, Luther's Later Years (1538–1546) .

15. Jump up ^ Karant-Nunn, Susan C., and Merry E. Wiesner. Luther On Women : A Sourcebook. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

16. Jump up ^ Treu, Martin. "Katharina Von Bora, The Woman At Luther's Side." Lutheran Quarterly 13.2 (1999): 156-178. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

17. Jump up ^ [Johan Theophil Bring, The wife and home of Luther. 1917, Stockholm]

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Katharina von Bora.


Wikisource has the text of a 1905 New International Encyclopedia article about Katharina von Bora.

21 December 1863 A.D. Chaplain Thomas Dwight Witherspoon’s Letter to Sister of Fallen Commander, COL Hugh R. Miller

21 December 1863 A.D.  Chaplain Thomas Dwight Witherspoon’s Letter to Sister of Fallen Commander, COL Hugh R. Miller

Archivist. “December 21: A Chaplain’s Letter.”  This Day in Presbyterian History.  21 Dec 2014.  Accessed 21 Dec 2014.

December 21: A Chaplain’s Letter

On Every Battlefield of Life, Christ is ever our Comfort and Strength.

Today we present a letter from the battlefield, penned on this day, December 21, in 1863. Here, the Rev. Thomas Dwight Witherspoon writes to Susan G. Miller, sister of Witherspoon’s fallen commander, Colonel Hugh R. Miller, who died at Gettysburg. Of tragedy and loss, and of God’s comfort in our weakest moments, Rev. Witherspoon writes,

Truly God’s footsteps are in the great deep. We cannot comprehend his doings, but it is the part of faith to sit meekly & lean upon the arms of the Lord though it be in the dark. We know that He doeth all things well—that he doth not willingly grieve or afflict & therefore we should not faint under his chastisements, but gather strength from his premises & fortitude from his throne of grace, glorifying him even in the furnace of affliction, and striving by every visitation of his rod to be drawn nearer to Himself.

T. D. Witherspoon to Susan G. Miller, December 21, 1863:—
Camp 42nd Miss near Orange C. H.

Dec 21st 1863

My dear friend:

The enclosed letter sent to my care has been for a long time in the hands of Captain Cooper, but through some mistake the letter containing it was not handed me until day before yesterday. I have been intending to write to you every day since I reached Camp but have been prevented by the constant confusion & bustle incident to such a life as that we are now leading. We have only one small tent for the Regimental, Medical & chaplains headquarters, so with the crowd always collected on business of some kind, or visiting some of us there is but little time given for writing or reflection. My thoughts have been very often with you since I come away, hoping that the slight improvement in your health during my stay might prove to be the earnest of your complete restoration to health, yet fearing that it was only the excitement of my hurried visit & that after I had gone, you would again feel keenly the power of the disease. Oh how gladly I should have remained with you longer if it had been at my option to do so. How happy I should be in any way possible to minister to your comfort & relieve the weariness of long & painful sickness. I have learned to think of you as a mother for his sake, who amid all the trials & deprivations of the camp, treated me ever as if I were a son. I cannot tell you how much I miss him now. There is a vacancy in my heart, there is a vacancy in the hearts of the men—there is a vacancy in the command of the Regiment wh. [i.e., which] cannot be filled. We shall never have another officer so active & vigilant, another leader so brave & true, another Colonel so much respected & admired, and I greatly fear we shall never again have a Regiment so thoroughly drilled & disciplined as that in which our lamented Colonel once took such a just & honest pride. All the men speak of him affectionately. All lament his death & long for some way to shew their appreciation of his worth.

We have just received official notice that Col. Moseley’s resignation is accepted. We have also a report in camp that Maj. Feeney is dead but I trust this report may not be true. [1] There will be a great contention for seniority amongst Captains & we do not know how the issue between them will be decided. Cpt. Locke has gone home on furlough, his wound is still troubling him. [2]

We have just received the sad intelligence of the death of Edward Miller, son of the late Rev. Jno. H. Miller, killed in battle & his remains left in the hands of the enemy. How distressing to this afflicted household. Truly God’s footsteps are in the great deep. We cannot comprehend his doings, but it is the part of faith to sit meekly & lean upon the arms of the Lord though it be in the dark. We know that He doeth all things well—that he doth not willingly grieve or afflict & therefore we should not faint under his chastisements, but gather strength from his premises & fortitude from his throne of grace, glorifying him even in the furnace of affliction, and striving by every visitation of his rod to be drawn nearer to Himself.

Of the state of religion in the Regiment I am not able as yet to say much as the weather has been so inclement since my return as to prevent me from mingling much with the men. On yesterday & the Sabbath before the attendance on preaching was very large & from other indications, I think there is still a deep interest. Tomorrow we move to our permanent quarters for the winter which will be three miles beyond Orange C. H. [i.e., Court House]. On the wagon road to Gordonsville. It is spoken of as an excellent location with plenty of wood, water etc. When we get a little time we purpose building a chapel & hope to have regular service all the winter. Oliver is quite well, has made application for furlough & is very impatient to get home—Dr. T. & Capt. N. [3, 4] are also well. They are all asleep or I know they would send messages. My only chance to write is at night after everything is at rest in the camp & my candle gives so dim a light that I can scarcely see where I write. As we are to be up very early in the morning &move by then the new encampment, I must close making this my excuse for not writing a longer & more satisfactory letter. Give my love to George & Eddie. I trust you may be comforted in seeing them each brought into the fold of Christ, through the sore affliction which the Lord has sent upon you & upon them. May His gracious spirit, the promised comforter dwell richly in your heart, soothing the wounds for which earth has not remedy or balm. With kind regards to the members of the household & heartfelt prayers for you & yours

Your true friend & brother,

T. D. Witherspoon

[1] According to Military History of Mississippi, Major Feeney was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864.

[2] Capt. Robert A. Locke of Company D, 42nd Regiment, was wounded at Gettysburg and promoted to Major on December 18, 1863.

[3] Regimental Surgeon Robert L. Taggart.

[4] Probably Captain Andrew M. Nelson, who eventually succeeded Miller, Moseley and Feeney to command the 42nd.