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Where Luther Walked, #9: Heidelberg

The Universitätsplatz (University Square) in Heidelberg is over the foundation walls of the former Augustinian monastery. To commemorate Luther’s visit to the monastery and debate (Disputation) in 1518, a memorial plaque was installed at Universitätsplatz in 1983.

The plaque reads:

“Martin Luther (1483-1546): zum Gedenken an seinen Aufenthalt im Kloster der Augustiner und an seine Heidelberger Disputation am 26. April 1518. Im Lutherjahr 1983.” // “In commemoration of his Heidelberg visit at the Augustinian monastery and debate on the 26th of April 1518. In Luther year 1983 (500th anniversary of his birth).”


Following Luther's proposal for a disputation on the subject of indulgences, the Augustinian Order, to which Luther belonged, was generally supportive of his views. The head of the order in Germany, Johannes Staupitz, called for a formal disputation to be attended by the leadership of the order, in which Luther would be provided a chance to expand upon his concern.

Accordingly, the disputation took place at the meeting of the Augustinian Order, in Heidelberg, in April 1518. Luther's opponents had been hopeful that Luther would be silenced, but Staupitz wanted to give Luther a fair hearing, since he was generally sympathetic with Luther's views.

At the meeting, Luther put forward a "theology of the cross" as opposed to a "theology of glory." The disputation is, in many ways, more significant than the 95 theses, for they advanced Luther's growing realisation that the theology of late Medieval Roman Catholicism was fundamentally and essentially at odds with Biblical theology.

As a result of the disputation, John Eck proposed a debate between himself and representatives of Luther's views, which was held in Leipzig from June to July, 1519.


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