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Some Monkery

Wanted! Two budding monks to 'test drive' part of our (limited) wardrobe in the Reformation Room.

Thanks to the efforts of Majorie Stitt, a couple of rustic robes for Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon are now ready for 'Opening Day.'

Naturally, we're not encouraging you to devote yourself to a life of monasticism ... !


On 2 July 1505, a young Luther was travelling from his home in Mansfeld back to the University at Erfurt. During this journey, he was caught in a terrible thunderstorm. Fearing death from a stroke of lightning, Luther cried out in terror to the patron saint of miners these words, “Help me, St. Anne, and I will become a monk.”

As Luther’s most famous biographer, Roland Bainton, so eloquently stated it:

"The man who thus called upon a saint was later to repudiate the cult of the saints. He who vowed to become a monk was later to renounce monasticism. A loyal son of the Catholic Church, he was later to shatter the structure of medieval Catholicism. A devoted servant of the pope, he was later to identify the popes with Antichrist. For this young man was Martin Luther."

Exactly two weeks after the thunderstorm experience (16 July 1505), Luther threw a party for his classmates in which he announced that he would join a monastery the next day. At the party, Luther gave away his law books and master’s cap. And, sure enough, the next day Luther presented himself at the Augustinian monasteries’ gates without the blessing of his father.

Shortly after entering the monastery on 17 July 1505, Luther took his monastic vows

and began his monastic duties. Luther later boasted that if ever a monk could have gotten to heaven through monkery, it would have been him. He prayed, fasted, kept vigils, and almost froze to death in unheated chambers.

His fear of God drove him to punish himself.

Historian Bruce Shelly notes that, “He sometimes fasted for three days and slept without a blanket in freezing winter. He was driven by a profound sense of his own sinfulness and of God’s unutterable majesty.”

However, despite all his efforts to the contrary, Luther could never find peace with God through “monkery.”

... That must come through mercy ... .

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