HISTORY MAKERS: CELEBRATING NOTABLE WOMEN IN HISTORY
(From the History Makers column in Power For Today Magazine, January 2010, Copyright 2010 Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries. All rights reserved.)
KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER
(1499-1552)Imagine going from living a life in a convent to becoming the wife of the first and most famous reformer in history! That is one of the magnificent aspects of the life of Katharina von Bora Luther, a woman who became the first lady of the reformation – and set the tone for what Protestant family life should be like.
Born in Kobenhagen, Germany in 1499, Katharina lived in a family of impoverished Saxon nobles with three brothers and a sister. At the age of five, her mother died, and her father quickly remarried, thus sending Katharina to a Benedictine Cloister in Brehna. In 1508, she was moved to Marienthron, a Cisterian convent of Nimbschen where her maternal aunt was mother superior. Katharina took her vows as a nun on October 8, 1515 – when she was but 16 years old.
Over time, Katharina grew tired of life in the convent and contacted the infamous Martin Luther for help to escape. Along with a few other nuns, they fled the convent, thanks to Martin Luther’s arrangements. Within two years, Luther had secured marriages, employment, or homes for all the women – except Katharina. She made the personal declaration that she would either marry Luther or one of his associates – and no one else! Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora on June 13, 1525; and were given a former Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg as a gift from the Elector of Saxony. She was 26, he was 42.
Katharina was an amazing administrator and businesswoman of the estate; she administered and managed the holdings of the monastery, bred and sold cattle, and ran a brewery to help cover the expense of the family students present there to study with Martin Luther. Martin himself referred to her as “My lord Katie” and “the boss of Zulsdorf” with great affection. This great woman also was mother of six children and adopted parent of four orphan children, including her own nephew.
After Martin Luther died, Katharina was left in a difficult situation, and spent the remainder of her life moving from place to place, relying on the fortunes of others to survive. She died December 20, 1552 at the age of 53, and was buried at Torgau.
Katharina von Bora Luther reminds us to be open to God’s paths in our lives. We may wind up far from where we start, but we are never far from God as we follow His will. She also shows us the great power in serving as active participants in our marriages; we are not called to be silent partners, simply dragged here and there, but are to be active participants with our husbands; to be productive in our lives in every area; to be efficient in business and finance; and to be gracious managers of our homes and families. God does not call us to take a back seat; no! He calls us to be participants at life, to speak up and be counted, and follow Him, even if it deviates from our plans.
Quotable quote: “I will stick to Christ as a burr sticks to cloth.”