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Ed and Mary Ann Stasiak with Barbara Bui in Detroit getting ready for long plane ride

Pastor Scott is preparing his CETA Tour notes

Wartburg Castle:  Inside the Chapel

Wartburg Castle:  Lois in front of the chapel organ

Luther as Knight George  by Lucas Cranach

The Bach House in Eisenach

Today we landed in Frankfurt and had a full day for tired pilgrims.  We all are fine, but need some sleep.  We visited Wartburg Castle and Eisenach.  Here is a brief history I wrote about the places we saw.
Martin Luther had two extended stays in Eisenach  First, he was a student at St. George’s Latin School from 1497-1501 (age 14-18).  His father wanted him in this school because of its good academic reputation.  Originally it was hoped that young Martin could stay in the home of his Uncle, but either that was not feasible or his uncle simply refused.  So, Luther initially stayed in a dormitory operated by the St. George’s Church.  His lovely singing voice enabled him to earn some money as a member of a choir that sang at funerals and special events.  Eventually he was welcomed into the home of Ursala Cotta, a widow who provided him with two rooms in her house.  He was allowed to eat supper in the home of Frau Cotta’s son-in-law Heinrich Schalbe in exchange for Luther tutoring Heinrich’s son with his school work.  By the time Luther completed his studies in Eisenach he had mastered the Latin language and was prepared to enter the university of Erfurt.

Twenty years later, on April 10, 1521, Luther was warmly welcomed into Eisenach on his way to his upcoming trial for heresy in Worms (the Diet of Worms).  He stayed the night and preached a sermon at St. George’s Church before continuing his journey to Worms.  On May 1, Luther again stopped in Eisenach after the Diet.  Despite being ordered at the Diet not to preach anyplace.  Luther again preached at St. George Church before continuing his journey to Wittenberg.  His time away from Eisenach would not be long.

On May 4, arrangements made by Luther’s Prince, Frederick the Wise, resulted in Luther being ‘kidnapped’ on the road and taken to Wartburg Castle which towers above Eisenach.  Here Luther would be kept in hiding which might be best described as protective custody for this ‘enemy of the Holy Roman Empire and arch heretic’.  Luther grew a beard to disguise himself and took the name ‘Junker Georg’ (Knight George).  The name he chose is significant.  In mythology it was George who slew the dragon who was terrorizing the people.  Luther apparently viewed his own situation as a battle with a monster that resided in Rome.

So, from May 4, 1521, to March 1, 1522, (except for a few weeks in December when he snuck back to Wittenberg to calm a troubled community) Wartburg Castle was what he called in letters his ‘Patmos’ ‘Kingdom of the Birds’ and ‘Island Home’.  It was a lonely place for a man who was suddenly plucked from the center of the world’s stage.  Luther was also plagued by health problems during his time at the Wartburg.

Yet, it was in this solitude that Martin Luther undertook one of his most lasting contributions to the Church:  he translated the New Testament from Greek into German in a matter of 11 weeks.  Armed with Erasmus’ recently released Greek text, but little else for reference other than his remarkable memory, Luther produced a masterpiece that was instrumental in standardizing the German language and still today is the most used German translation of the Bible.  He had an amazing gift for translation that evoked visual images for readers.  Upon returning to Wittenberg some editing was done and the month it went into  print helped name his ‘September Testament’.  Now Germans could read the New Testament in their native language rather than the scholarly Latin which was inaccessible to most.  Luther worked on the Old Testament translation with his colleagues in Wittenberg, but that work took until 1534 to reach completion.