Interview with the museum director who found a letter of indulgence with Luther's name on it.
"A child of his time"
Martin Luther rejected indulgences in his later years. On a letter of indulgence, however, his name can be found. Museum director Vera Lüpkes found it. She explains to domradio.de what it has to do with the letter.
domradio.de : Did Martin Luther jauntily buy indulgences before he took the field against them?
Vera Lüpkes (Director of the Weser Renaissance Museum, Lemgo) : No, he did not buy them jauntily. He bought one. And this one was handed down to us in a copy of 1631. This copy is now available in the National Library in Madrid.
domradio.de : How does the name of Luther come onto the letter of indulgence?
Lüpke : It can be said that Martin Luther was a child of his time, that he was deeply rooted in the pre-Reformation Church. You have to remember the situation at the time. Martin Luther lived as a monk in Erfurt in the Augustinian Emeritus Monastery. Erfurt belonged to the ecclesiastical province of Mainz. And in this church province, the indulgence preacher Johann Tetzel was able to preach. At the end of March 1508, Tetzel came to Erfurt and preached the indulgence there, among others in the Augustinian Lutheran monastery where Luther was brother.
domradio.de : So Martin Luther's name was with many other monastery brothers on the letter of indulgence you found?
Lüpke : Quite right. The Pope had decreed that for monasteries indulgences should no longer be written individually, but one for the entire monastery.
domradio.de : How did you find this letter?
Lüpkes : I have been interested in the system of indulgences, and I looked for the Tetzel letter of indulgence for the Augustinian Emeritus monastery and found it in the archives of the National Library in Madrid. On the letter was the name Martin Luder - as Luther called himself initially - together with the other Augustinian hermits.
domradio.de : This letter is now in Madrid and it will not be part of your new exhibition about Martin Luther and the Reformation, right?
Lüpke : No, we could not be loaned the letter. We have it as a copy in the catalogue of our exhibition "Open mouth!" displayed.
domradio.de : What can you tell us about this exhibition?
Lüpke : We are here in the Weser area. We therefore ask how Martin Luther's idea of the Reformation came into the Weser area. On the one hand via the spoken word, on the other via printing and image - that is Bible printing and flyers. And very early on, the Hessian Count took the decision to make the Lutheran Reformation a state religion. That was already 1526. This can be seen in our exhibition with great pictures, interesting flyers and a very good Bible.