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Gotha

“I want to be buried in Gotha.”

Amongst the towns associated with Luther, Gotha is also one of the most important scenes of the Reformation. In 1515, Martin Luther preached for the first time at the meeting of the Chapter of the German Order of St. Augustine, as the German Augustinian congregation had elected him as the district vicar, the leading priest for one or more provinces. This brought the great Reformer back to the city time and time again, and was repeated until his final visit in 1540.

On 29 May 1516, Luther visited the Augustinian monastery in Gotha. Five years later, on his way to Worms, he preached there again and left a lasting impression. During his sermon, stones fell from the gable wall with a loud crash. According to legend in Gotha, this was the devil’s rage because Luther had stolen so many souls from him. 

A little later, in 1522, the priest of St. Margaret’s Church, Johann Langenhan, proclaimed the new teaching to the faithful for the first time. This year was regarded as the start of the Reformation in Gotha. Just a few months after the attacks on church institutions in Gotha, Friedrich Myconius was appointed the first Protestant priest in August 1524.

Gotha from above - the palace grounds tower over and shape the city ©Marcus Glahn, Schatzkammer Thüringen

But Martin Luther did not come to the city solely to visit the Augustinian monastery, but also to take a break on his way to Worms, Marburg and Schmalkalden. This was the case on 27 February 1537. On the way back from the “Council of Princes” in Schmalkalden, he began to suffer from serious pain in his kidneys. Believing that he would die, he used this time to dictate his will to his fellow Reformer Johannes Bugenhagen and discussed his forthcoming burial with his friend Myconius. As Luther had strong ties to Gotha, he wanted to be buried there. On 1 March 1537, Luther had recovered from his serious illness to such an extent that he was able to hold theological discussions again. Luther stayed until 4 May in the former guest house, which can still be visited as the Lutherhaus on the market square.

Did you know?
His will contained the firm conviction that the attack on papacy was correct and should be continued. He also thought of his wife Katharina and his children.

 

Places associated with Luther in Gotha include:

- The Augustinian monastery with the Augustinian Church The recently renovated and modernised monastery is a place of quiet. The Augustinian Church, where Luther preached several times, was built from 1366.

- The Myconiushaus, which is directly connected to the monastery complex, is regarded as the oldest preserved residential building in Gotha.

- Friedenstein Castle holds a lot of documentary evidence from the Luther period. Duke Ernest I. of Saxe-Gotha’s collection of broadsheets and pamphlets, for example, is a valuable treasure trove. And the research library has a unique stock of Reformation manuscripts, including originals from Martin Luther’s portfolio.

- The Lutherhaus on Hauptmarkt. On his way back from the Council of Princes in Schmalkalden, Luther stopped in Gotha on 27 February 1537. 

- St. Margaret’s Church, where Johann Langenhan proclaimed the new gospel teaching as early as 1522. This was regarded as the start of the Reformation in Gotha. In front of St. Margaret’s Church in Gotha, two impressive statues of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon welcome visitors.

 

Header: ©Florian Trykowski, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

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