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Augustinian Church and Monastery was where Martin Luther lived for six years

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 25th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The chief stop on the Luther trail is in Erfurt, Germany is where the Augustinerkloster, or Augustinian Monastery. Luther became an Augustinian monk here in 1505, and lived there for the next six years.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Inside the monastery is a permanent Luther exhibition, the restored monastic cell of Brother Martin, and a Reformation Library with rare books.

Founded by Augustinian monks, which is an order that follows the Rule of St. Augustine, the brotherhood settled in Erfurt in the 13th century. The church and the majority of monastery buildings were constructed between the years of 1276 and 1340.

The monastery was a respected center of Catholic learning with a theological college and an extensive library. Martin Luther joined the order on July 17, 1505, and lived there until 1511. In early 1505, Martin had just received a Master of Arts from the University of Erfurt and was planning to enter law school in accordance with his father's wishes.

That changed on July 2, 1505, when Luther was caught in a terrible thunderstorm and feared he would be struck dead by lightning. He called out to St. Anne, patron saint of his father's profession of mining, and cried out "Help me! And I'll become a monk."

Luther survived and kept his vow. He joined the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt on July 17. Like all new monks, Luther began as a novice and then took his monastic vows in 1506.

Luther was ordained priest in 1507 and began studying theology at the University of Erfurt. He received his doctorate in 1512 and became a professor at the University of Erfurt.

The Augustinian Monastery of Erfurt was secularized after the last monk died in 1556. The buildings were then used for a grammar school, a library, an orphanage, and a government assembly hall through the centuries. The monastery was damaged by a lightning bolt in 1646, ironic since Martin Luther became a monk here after being saved from a thunderstorm that terrified him!

The monastic church was restored and reconsecrated in 1851 after years of neglect. During World War II, the Augustinerkloster was the site of a great tragedy when a British bombing raid on February 25, 1945, destroyed much of the monastery, killing 267 people who had taken shelter in the cellars beneath the library.

There was no stopping the monastery, or destroying its heritage through a human construct such as mere war. Reconstruction began in 1946 and was completed in 1957.

A seminary occupied the restored buildings from 1960 until 1993. The Lutheran Church subsequently completed restoration work on the church where Luther took his vows and turned the monastery's east and west wings into a conference center.

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