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What Luther Says

Martin Luther's Wife

Following the previous post regarding a few things that Luther had to say about marriage, I thought it would be good to quickly highlight the "young nun who had the grace and courage to follow her convictions, her conscience, and the authoritative Word of Christ," named Katharine von Bora, or better known as Martin Luther's wife.

"There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage."

*- Martin Luther

Martin Luther found peace when he married an ex-nun named Katharine von Bora, whom he had helped to escape from her nunnery in an empty fish barrel and had taken refuge in Wittenberg.

Katharine von Bora was born in 1499, the daughter of an impoverished nobleman. In 1504 she went to the convent school of the Benedictine order in Brehna (near Halle) and entered the convent of Nimbschen, near Grimma in 1508.

In 1515 she took her vows and became a nun at the soonest possible date. In 1523 she left the convent and ended up in Wittenberg. By June 1525, echoing a trend across Europe as former nuns and monks married, she became Mrs Martin Luther.

Katharine was 16 years younger than Martin and together they had six children. Luther doted on his large family but was able to devote himself to the simpler pleasures of life, gardening, writing music.

Katharine took over the household, particularly the household expenses; it is said that Dr Luther did not have a clue how to run a household. She also proved herself to be a good housewife and gardener.

Luther's household included not only his wife and six children, but also one of Katharine's relatives and after 1529 six of Luther's sister's children. Luther also housed students in his home to help the family's financial situation.

For recreation the Luthers enjoyed a bowling lane of sorts in their garden, board games such as chess, and music. They had a pet dog. They grew much of their own food in a small garden at the Black Cloister and then later as a farm outside Wittenberg.

Luther and Katherine were diligent parents, disciplining their children, but doing so in love. Their home was noted for its liveliness and its happiness.

Katherine outlived her husband by six years. She died on December 20, 1552 in Torgau where she had fled from the plague in Wittenberg.



Katherine was a nun. Martin Luther was a priest and a monk, but after studying scripture, wrote about the importance of marriage and having children. She, along with other nuns, read the book and wanted out of the convent to become wives and mothers.

Luther rescued them and tried finding homes or families for all of them. He couldn't find one for Katherine, so he eventually married her even though he didn't have feelings for her. He said it was to spite the devil...so romantic! So there was no love or attraction but a commitment to the principles of the Bible and service to God.

They didn't have an easy life. They had six children, two died. They lived in a big, old house that was always full of people. They lived in great poverty. Luther had a lot of physical ailments, but she always nursed him to health waiting on him hand and foot. She studied herbal remedies and fed her family healthy.

When he would fall into his frequent bouts with severe depression, she would hold him, pray for him, comfort him, and read Scripture to him. She drove the wagon, looked after their fields and gardens, purchased and pastured cattle, brewed beer, rented horses, sold linen, helped edit his writings, prepared meals, kept house, raised kids, entertained guests...

By all accounts, Katherine was a wonderful mother and Martin a loving and fun father who spent his evenings playing music for his children and teaching them the Bible, which was a welcome and joyous diversion from his busy and stressful life.

He wrote, "The greatest gift of grace a man can have is a pious, God-fearing, home-loving wife, whom he can trust with all his goods, body, and life itself, as well as having her as the mother of his children."

Now that, my dear readers, is an example of what submission and being a true help meet looks like!

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies."

*- Proverbs 31:10


In layman's terms, I hope that helps to give you a good, quick overview of who Mrs. Martin Luther was and what her life and marriage to Martin was like.


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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