Wittenberg WanderersDay 4

Wittenberg to Eisleben to Erfurt


Catechetical Connections

Opening Devotion at the Old Latin School Chapel: Daily Prayer—Morning

Explore Eisleben

Travel from Wittenberg to Eisleben (approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes) to visit some or all of the following key sites.

Review Luther’s Small Catechism: Sacrament of Holy Baptism; Confession/Office of the Keys; Table of Duties

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.

  • Luther’s birthplace—the home has been rebuilt
  • Church of St. Peter and St. Paul—the baptismal font remains
  • St. Andrew’s Church (or St. Andreas)—the pulpit Luther preached from remains
  • The home where Luther died—reconstructed and a museum
  • St. Anne’s Church at the Augustinian monastery—St. Anne was the patron saint of miners, the vocation of many men in the area at the time of Luther, including his father, who mined copper in the local mines.
  1. Why do you think Martin Luther might have been baptized when he was one day old?
  2. What is your Baptism birthday?
  3. Describe what happened to you physically and spiritually in your Baptism.
  4. Luther served in his vocation of pastor and teacher until his death. What does it mean that we confess and believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting? What hope does this give you today?
  5. Note three things you find interesting in the sites you visit. Explain why you chose those items and their significance in Luther’s life or what they reveal about life in the sixteenth century.

Explore Erfurt

Travel from Eisleben to Erfurt (approximately 1 hour) to visit some or all of the following key sites.

Review Luther’s Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer

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.

University of Erfurt

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.

Augustinian Cloister

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.

  1. Consider Luther’s explanation of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. How does Luther show he is not trying to earn God’s favor in his explanations of the Lord’s Prayer?
  2. Consider Luther’s explanation of Confession. What was more important for Luther, confessing sins or hearing the words of forgiveness? Why?
  3. Possibly review or introduce Luther’s “A Simple Way to Pray,” mentioned in Day 1, and his use of the Ten Commandments for prayerful meditation.

Luther Memorial at Merchants’ Church

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.

Kramer Bridge (or Merchants’ Bridge)

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.

St. Mary’s Cathedral (or Erfurt Cathedral)

This is the Gothic cathedral where Luther was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on April 3, 1507.

  1. Compare St. Mary’s Cathedral with the Castle Church in Wittenberg. What do they have in common? What is different? What symbols of the Christian faith do you see in this cathedral?
  2. How might the size and majesty of this cathedral have reinforced Luther’s early understanding of God as an unapproachable, righteous, and almighty judge?
  3. Later, Luther would come to understand that the selling of indulgences provided the money for the Roman Catholic Church to build such grand cathedrals, particularly in Rome, but also in places like Erfurt. Why was the selling of indulgences wrong?
  4. What are the roles and duties of a pastor? Did Luther fulfill these duties?

Visit other interesting churches

There were twenty-four churches and eleven monasteries with chapels in Luther’s day, including the Merchants’ Church.

Closing Devotion at the Gotha Augustinian cloister: Daily Prayer—Close of the Day

Recommendation: Stay overnight in the relatively inexpensive, church-run Augustinian cloister in Gotha (Erfurt to Gotha, approximately 35 minutes).

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