I speak of Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther, the man who sparked the protestant revolution.
I enjoy the quirky stuff, the little known facts, like how it’s always all about the butter, as can be seen in this article, How Butter Fueled the Protestant Reformation Never underestimate the importance of good butter, the numerous conflicts that can arise when some people can afford a butter indulgence and others cannot. As Martin Luther once wrote, “Eating butter, they say, is a greater sin than to lie, blaspheme, or indulge in impurity.”
I do sometimes intercede for humanity as a whole, praise the Lord for His infinite patience, and thank Him for His Divine sense of humor.
Another fun quirk of the reformation can be found in the relationship between Martin and his wife Katie. It’s quite the romantic tale, many books have been written about it as this blog recounts, mentioning one I have not yet read, The Christian Lover.
As the story goes, several nuns escaped by hiding in a wagon full of fish barrels, herring I believe, and appealed to Martin Luther for help. He was able to find families to take them in and eventually husbands for all but one, Katie. She apparently had her heart set on Martin Luther himself, in what was rather scandalous at the time since clergy did not often marry. Martin eventually relented with this romantic but quite reluctant declaration, “to please his father, to spite the Pope and the Devil, and to seal his witness before his martyrdom.”
“If I can endure conflict with the devil, sin, and a bad conscience, then I can put up with the irritations of Katy von Bora.”
It’s a bit funny, he’s quite a reluctant husband and declares, “Suddenly and when my mind was on other matters, the Lord snared me with the yoke of matrimony.” As this blog post clearly demonstrates, their marriage was actually ground breaking, revolutionary, more of an arranged thing born of defiance than born of love. He says, “One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow that were not there before.”
A match made in heaven perhaps, because it soon grows into a romantic and fruitful union, one well preserved in love letters and journal entries. Soon he is deeply in love, full of admiration for her, and his pet names begin to pepper his writing. He calls her “Housewife of the Heart,” “Madam Pig-Marketer”and “My Lord Katie.”
“Lord Katie” was an amazing woman in her own right, often to be found running the brewery, the farm, the boarding house for all her husband’s many guests, and a hospital when people fell sick. They had six children together, took in another four orphans, and she became a great spiritual ally and mentor for her husband.
When he died he made the rather unfashionable decision to appoint her his heir, at a time when women were so seldom granted any inheritance rights at all. “I appoint you, Katie, as universal heiress…”