Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Wittenberg a (5/29/2018)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Our porthole view in Torgau
We sailed from Torgau this morning for the short trip to Wittenberg.
The ferry/Fähre Dommitzsch-Prettin (KSS)
There appear to be more ferry crossings than bridges over the Elbe (KSS)
Some of the groynes or finger dikes jutting out into the river
to control erosion, mostly caused by the wakes of passing ships!
Our porthole view in [Klein] Wittenberg
We arrived in Wittenberg after lunch, and were sorted out into the motor coaches for the included shore excursion.
City Courthouse/Amtsgericht (1907-1909,
by Friedrich Beisner in neo-Gothic style)
Luther Garden/Garten (2017) was initiated to celebrate the 500th anniversary
of the Protestant Reformation by having churches around the world plant
or sponsor a fruit tree in this garden and plant a corresponding tree at
their own church, all in response to Luther's quote: "Even if I
knew that the world were to collapse tomorrow,
I would still plant my apple tree today"
Allotment gardens/Schrebergarten
A bridge lookout covered in mirrors at Bunkerberg,
once a neglected hill, now an area for spiritual reflection
We arrived at the east end of Collegienstrasse to begin the walking tour of the city that is officially named Lutherstadt Wittenberg, known for Martin Luther and as the birthplace of the Reformation.
Former Augusteum, the Augustinian monastery
where Martin Luther was a monk and later where he lived
after being given the building by Elector Friedrich III
Friedrich III the Wise founded the University of Wittenberg, and for faculty he drew from the group of the best educated men in the city, in the monastery situated just down the street. Martin Luther was well-educated and his father wanted him to study law. Luther was more interested in theology, but the story is he joined the monastery in 1505 after a close call with a lightning strike. He was ordained in 1507, and in the next year became the professor of theology at the university. He earned his Doctor of Theology in 1512.
Our guide had quite the hat!
A woodcut print by Lucas Cranach the Elder, showing a
jousting tournament in the Wittenberg market square,
which appears to be a wild melee
Lucas Cranach was the court painter for Friedrich III the Wise, and a contemporary and friend of Martin Luther.
An indulgence chest
Martin Luther was particularly opposed to the abused Catholic practice of indulgences. The practice was meant to be part of the penance served for sins that were already confessed and forgiven, that is, for deeds done during one's lifetime and having nothing to do with the unknown future in heaven or hell, or purgatory. Yet corrupt or ignorant clergy did sell indulgences, initially for someone to have time in purgatory reduced for a dead loved one. Later indulgences were sold to reduce your own time in purgatory. Martin Luther was reacting to a papal emissary who was selling indulgences in the 1510s to raise money to rebuild St Peter's Basilica in Rome, and to his own bishop,  Albrecht von Brandenburg, who was selling indulgences to pay off his debts (and pay his share for St Peter's). Luther wrote a letter to the bishop, enclosing a copy of his scholarly work, "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," which came to be known as the "Ninety-five Theses."
Martin Luther's pulpit from the parish Church of
St Mary/Stadtkirche Sankt Marien
A copy of a generous letter of indulgence
A copy of the "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and
Efficacy of Indulgences," which came to be known as
the "Ninety-five Theses," a first printed version
The bishop forwarded the letter and "Ninety-five Theses" to the pope, Leo X. Over the next three years, the pope sent papal theologians and envoys to discuss matters with Luther. Luther became more convinced and bolder in his assertions against corruption in the Catholic church, eventually insisting that popes were not given the exclusive right to interpret scripture, and that therefore neither popes nor church councils were infallible. Whoa! Pope Leo decided to excommunicate Martin Luther in 1521, and Luther went into hiding in one of Friedrich III's castles.
The refectory painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder of
The Ten Commandments (1516), originally designed for the Town Hall
A rainbow crosses the painting, where Cranach had
the bad guys in yellow accompanied by demons
The "Ninety-five Theses" were translated from Latin into German in 1518, and spread throughout Europe by 1519. Martin Luther had developed quite a following, and was joined by other professors from the University of Wittenberg, specifically Philip Melanchthon and Johannes Bugenhagen.
While in hiding, Martin Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into the local Saxon dialect of German, and continued to produce written tracts. In 1522 he returned to Wittenberg, claiming that he could do more with his physical presence than he could by writing. And that he could!
In 1523 Martin Luther helped 12 nuns "escape" from a convent, and he was able to place or marry off all of them except Katharina von Bora. Katharina insisted she would wed no one except Luther, and one day he found himself married.
Portraits (1528) of Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora three years
after their marriage, painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder
When Martin Luther was married, he was given the Augustinian monastery as his home. It was Katharina who managed the household, tended to farm business, ran the brewery, and acted as hostess to visiting students and learned guests coming to see Luther. When needed she opened her home as a hospital, and she bore six children!
Luther's study/Lutherstube with his table
Many visitors carved their initials in the Lutherstube,
and here Peter the Great of Russia scratched his name
Luther's beer mug
The first complete Bible (1534) translated by Martin Luther, who,
like Hus centuries before, believed church writings should be accessible to
the people in their own language, and is thus credited for providing a
reference for a standard German language
Martin Luther's Prayerbook (KSS)
A small hymnal (1533) opened to A Mighty Fortress is Our God,
one of the many hymns composed by Martin Kuther
Lutherhaus Lecture Hall
Printing press like that used by Lucas Cranach
the Elder, who printed most of Luther's writings
An etching (circa 1545, by Melchior Lorichs)
of the pope as a devil
Some of the writings of Martin Luther,
including his views on Jews
Initially Martin Luther sympathized with the poor treatment of Jews, and coupled with his own issues with the Catholic clergy, he believed he understood why no Jew would convert to Christianity after seeing how the people behaved toward Jews. He advocated a gentler approach as he truly wanted to "save" the Jews, but that obviously did not work to convert any to his version of Christianity. Perhaps due to his failure to convert them, Luther appears to have turned against them. It is now debated how much influence Luther's later writings about Jews had on Adolf Hitler and the attitudes of the Nazis. It is almost as if they used Luther's comments as their blueprint for the Final Solution. (Most Lutheran Church authorities have officially denounced and dissociated themselves from that aspect of Luther's writings.)
A statue (1999, by Nina Koch) of Katharina von Bora
as she "leaves" the convent to begin
a new life with Martin Luther
Katharina is already wearing her wedding ring,
which is rubbed for luck (KSS)
Martin Luther lived and worked here 1508-1546
Katharinenportal with the seat niches, was commissioned
by Katharina as a gift for Luther's birthday in 1540
The medallion above the left seat niche has a portrait of Martin Luther
(while the right has a Luther Rose)
Passing through the Augusteum entrance
with a Luther Rose on the ceiling (KSS)
Down the street is the house of Philip Melanchthon
Philip Melanchthon was born Philip Schwarzerdt. He studied at the University of Heidelberg, becoming a scholar of Greek, but in addition to the humanities he worked on law, mathematics, and medicine. As was the practice of the time, he changed his surname to its Greek translation. After obtaining a Master's degree in 1516, he studied theology and saw that there was a difference in Christianity as taught at the university compared to what was practiced. Martin Luther invited him (at the age of 21 years) to the University of Wittenberg as a professor of Greek. He spoke and wrote in Luther's defense, and developed the new doctrine of Christianity, and is considered the intellectual leader of the Reformation. Melanchthon also introduced educational reforms at the university, which became the most well-attended university in the kingdom from 1530-1620.
A power-assisted bicycle (KSS)
A gateway to Leucorea, the Greek name given to
the University of Wittenberg, as both Leucorea and
Wittenberg mean "white mountain"
Plaques denote distinguished faculty of the university,
although I did not see Luther or Melanchthon
After experiencing setbacks in the Napoleonic era, the University of Wittenberg was merged with a university in Halle and located in Halle. After Reunification, it was decided to re-establish the Leucorea, but as an umbrella organization bringing together various partners and university institutions to foster research and academic projects.
Florist on Collegienstrasse
Fausthaus where Johann Faust lived 1525-1532,
according to the plaque!
The legendary Johann Faust, the alchemist who made a deal with the devil, was said to have lived in and attended university in Wittenberg. William Shakespeare's Hamlet also attended Wittenberg University!
This story is harder to verify, that the house on the corner
was the first in Wittenberg to use a  lightning rod
#12 Collegienstrasse (KSS)
Next: Wittenberg b.

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