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Personalities & Contemporary Witnesses

Luther's wife:
Katharina von Bora

1499-1552

Katharina von Bora

Katharina von Bora is believed to have been born 29 January 1499 on the Lippendorf estate near Leipzig, the daughter of an impoverished nobleman. In 1504, her father sent her to be educated at the Benedictine convent in Brehna. Four years later, in 1508, she entered the convent in Nimbschen near Grimma and by 1515 she had taken her vows and become a nun. It was as a nun that she read the first texts of the Reformer Martin Luther, who himself was quite critical of monastic life. Together, the group decided to abandon the convent and approached Luther for assistance. On Good Friday 1523, he sent them wagon, which – according to tradition – the nuns used to make their escape, hiding in fish barrels in order to avoid detection. Luther brought the women to Wittenberg where they were put up in the homes of burgesses and later all married off. Katharina von Bora herself lived in the home of Lucas Cranach the Elder. After turning down a marriage proposal made from the Wittenberg-based theologian Kaspar Glatz, Katharina eventually wed Martin Luther on 13 June 1525. After the celebration, the couple took up residence in the former ‘Black Cloiser’ in Wittenberg. There they lived with their six children, other relatives, students, visitors and employees.

Katharina von Bora was a highly capable business woman. In addition to administering their sizeable household, she managed a rural estate, operated a brewery and leased land along the branches of the river Elbe to establish a fish-farm. Likewise, Katharina ran a hospice in which she tended to patients together with a group of other women. Following Luther’s death, Katharina fled from the ravages of the Schmalkaldic War, first to Dessau and then to Magdeburg. Upon returning to Wittenberg, she found that her estates and properties had been devastated, leaving her in a financially critical situation. In the summer of 1552, Katharina von Bora and her daughter Margarethe fled Wittenberg once more, this time escaping from plague. While on the road to Torgau, she was injured in a carriage accident that resulted in her death on 29 December. She was interred in St. Mary’s church of Torgau.

Overview

Born on 29.01.1999 near Leipzig
Died on 29.12.1552 in Torgau
Called "The Lutheran"
Spouse of Martin Luther

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