In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the large wooden door of the towering Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and the world has never been the same since. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the extraordinary spiritual revolution that Luther’s actions brought about, this has been called the Luther Decade, a period with numerous events, conferences, exhibitions and celebrations in observance of his role in the Protestant Reformation.
Spiritual group pilgrimages, special tours of the Luther region and specially-marked “Luther Routes” are part of this historic anniversary event playing out through 2017. From Eisleben, where Luther was born and died, to Erfurt, where Luther studied to become a monk, to Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, where Luther took refuge and translated the New Testament into German, Luther Land prepares to host thousands of visitors in the coming months.
Luther’s spiritual travels throughout his life encompassed many German cities. In Berlin, a significant national Luther exhibition entitled “The Luther Effect: 500 Years Since the Reformation” will be held from April 12 to Nov. 5, 2017. In Wittenberg, where Luther spent 35 years of his life and where he married former nun Katharina von Bora, Luther’s Wedding Festival takes place every June with thousands gathering for a long, colorful weekend. Eisleben celebrates a Luther Town Festival in June as well. Eisenach will present the exhibition “Luther and the Germans” from May 4 to Nov. 5, 2017, while Leipzig in Saxony, another important stop on the Luther Trail, will hold special Reformation church services in May of 2017.
In Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the next three years will see special Renaissance and Reformation guided tours, Reformation exhibitions at the city’s Imperial City Museum and a special Reformation Conference.
With Katarina Day in Torgau, a conference about the historical aspects of the Reformation in Nuremberg, and the German Protestant Church Festival in Berlin and Wittenberg May 24-28, 2017), the Luther Decade is well underway with many activities, and with Germany poised for accommodating many groups, large and small.
By Don Heimburger