Travel from Wittenberg to Eisleben (approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes) to visit some or all of the following key sites.
Luther was born to Hans and Margarethe Luther in Eisleben on November 10, 1483. He was baptized on November 11, 1483 at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. His family was considered to be a merchant-class family, not as poor as peasants, but not nobles or owners of land. The Luther family rented the home in which Martin was born. Luther’s father knew an education was essential and sent Luther to Latin schools in the hope his son would become a lawyer. Luther would visit Eisleben many times during his life, but his last visit was in February 1546. After preaching his last sermon at St. Andrew’s Church, Luther died in Eisleben on Feburary 18.
Travel from Eisleben to Erfurt (approximately 1 hour) to visit some or all of the following key sites.
In 1501, at the age of 17 or 18, Luther became a student at the University of Erfurt. Here, he first studied the required liberal arts as they were known then: grammar, rhetoric, mathematics/logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. This earned him a baccalaureate degree. He continued with his studies at Erfurt, specializing in the study of law in order to become a lawyer. But in 1505, Luther suddenly left the University of Erfurt and joined the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. The story generally told is one of Luther being frightened in a thunderstorm while traveling back to Erfurt after a visit home. Lightning struck near him, and Luther, praying to St. Anne for deliverance, vowed to become a monk if he was delivered from the storm. The monastery in Erfurt, known as the Black Cloister, was a strict monastic order. Luther, as a diligent monk, participated in fasts, flagellations, long hours of prayer, and near constant confession. Luther was not unfamiliar with God, but the God he knew was one of judgment and demands. Luther the man and Luther the monk worked very hard to earn the favor of this righteous God, and he was deeply burdened by a conscience that knew it was not enough. Luther continued his studies at the university, even while a monk, and received a master’s degree in theology. He was ordained as a priest in 1507. He diligently studied Roman Catholic teachings and biblical studies until he was called away from Erfurt to serve at the University of Wittenberg.
Check out the University of Erfurt and the Georgenbursa (a renovated student dorm used from 1456 until the mid-sixteenth century). It is not known for sure that Luther resided in this dorm while a student. The dorm is now a museum where visitors can see examples of student life from Luther’s time.
Notice especially the stained glass windows, which may have given Luther an idea for his Luther rose symbol. Show or give each member in your group a Luther rose (key chain, necklace, lanyard, etc.) and review the symbolism. Do you see any connections to the stained glass windows?
Luther spent much time performing spiritual exercises here, especially praying and going to confession.
During your time in Germany, you will see many statues of Luther. Reflect on which statue you like best and make note in your journal about where you saw your favorite statue and what you like about it.
This bridge spans the Gera River and dates back to 1325. This unique bridge is a residential bridge with houses built on the bridge span.
This is the Gothic cathedral where Luther was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on April 3, 1507.
There were twenty-four churches and eleven monasteries with chapels in Luther’s day, including the Merchants’ Church.
Recommendation: Stay overnight in the relatively inexpensive, church-run Augustinian cloister in Gotha (Erfurt to Gotha, approximately 35 minutes).
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