Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
Faces of the Reformation – Luther’s Children
In our series, Faces of the Reformation, you have read about several people who are important to the Reformation history. God used these men in different ways to spread the message that Martin Luther wanted people to know – that it is only through grace alone and faith alone, learned through the scriptures alone, that we may be sure of our salvation.
In this post you will learn about a more personal side of Martin Luther. You will learn a little about the children God blessed Martin and Katharine with in the years they were married. They had six children. Johannes, known as Hans, was born in 1526. The next year, their daughter Elizabeth arrived. In 1529 another daughter, Magdalena, was born and then in 1531 their second son, Martin, was born. Paul, who was born in 1533, and Margaretha, born in 1534, were the last children. With such a large family, born so quickly, it is said that both mother and father were very busy, that Luther himself had to wash diapers and that Luther declared that even if neighbors laughed at him performing such “unmanly” labors, “Let them laugh. God and the angels are smiling in heaven.”
What Became of the Kids?
Hans became a lawyer – the career chosen for Martin Luther by his parents, you may remember – and later became a government official. Hans married Elizabeth Kreutziger in 1553. They had four children. Hans died in 1575. He was only 49 years old.
Paul became a doctor. He was also a medical chemist and alchemist. Paul was named for St. Paul. Martin Luther died when Paul was only 13 and the family was left in terrible poverty. Finally, after moving several times, they returned to Wittenberg and Philip Melanchthon advised Paul to attend the University and study medicine. In 1553, Paul married Anna Warbeck. This same year the family lost their mother, Katharine. Paul took up the practice of physician, but he enthusiastically and zealously defended his father’s teachings. Eventually, Paul became the personal physician of Augustus, Elector of Saxony. As a chemist, Paul developed several drugs. Paul died in Leipzig in 1593. Paul and his wife Anna had six children.
Martin studied theology, but never became a pastor as he died at age 33.
Margaretha was married to Georg von Kuenheim and she and her husband had five children. Margarethe died in 1570. She was only 36 years old.
Two of the Luther children passed away as children. Elizabeth died at age 6 months and Magdalena at 13 years of age. Magdalena suffered from an extended illness and it is reported that as Magdalena died in her father’s arms, Luther said, “You will rise and shine like the stars and sun.” Luther reported to a friend that he prayed while Magdalena lay dying, “I love her a lot, but good God, if Your will is to take her, I will give her to You with great pleasure.”