Martin Luther, born November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Thuringia and died February 18, 1546 in the same city, is an Augustinian brother theologian, university professor, initiator of Protestantism and reformer of the Church whose ideas exercised a great influence on the Protestant Reformation, which changed the course of Western civilization.
Concerned with the questions of death and salvation that characterize Late Middle Ages Christianity, he draws answers from the Bible, especially in Paul's letter to the Romans. According to Luther, the salvation of the soul is a free gift of God, received through sincere repentance and authentic faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, without possible intercession of the Church. He defies papal authority by holding the Bible as the only legitimate source of Christian authority.
Scandalized by the trade of indulgences instituted by Popes Julius II and Leo X to finance the construction of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, he published on October 31, 1517 the 95 theses. Summoned on June 15, 1520 by Pope Leo X to retract, he was excommunicated on January 3, 1521, by the papal bull Decet romanum pontificem. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain, Charles V, summoned Martin Luther in 1521 before the Diet of Worms. A safe-conduct is granted to him so that he can go there without risk. Before the Diet of Worms, he refuses to retract, declaring himself convinced by the testimony of Scripture and considering himself subject to the authority of the Bible and his conscience rather than that of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The Diet of Worms, under the pressure of Charles V, then decided to put Martin Luther and his followers on the ban of the Empire.
He is welcomed by his friend Elector of Saxony Frederick III the Sage at the castle of Wartburg, where he composes his best-known and most widely circulated texts. This is where he embarks on a translation of the Bible into German from the original texts, a translation whose cultural influence will be paramount, both for the fixation of the German language and for the establishment of the principles of the art of translation.
Luther adopts towards the end of his existence an attitude more and more judeophobic. In 1543, three years before his death, he published The Jews and Their Lies, a pamphlet of extreme violence in which he advocated solutions such as burning the synagogues, shooting down the houses of the Jews, destroying their writings, confiscating their money and killing rabbis who teach Judaism. Condemned by almost all Lutheran currents, these writings and Luther's influence on anti-Semitism helped to make his image controversial. © Photo of Emmanuel Buchot
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