Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Faces of the Reformation: Lucas Cranach, The Elder


The Reformation

The year 2017 is an important one in Lutheran history.

It was 500 years ago, in October, that Martin Luther nailed his 95 these to the church door in Wittenberg in an attempt to “Reform” the Catholic church. We would like to use this year to inform you about some of the people and events that are important in our church Reformation history.

We want to introduce you to important people who were “Faces of the Reformation.” You will learn about people who were important in helping Martin Luther with his work, or perhaps protecting Luther, or letting people know more about the Reformer.

Lucas Cranach, the Elder

This month you are being introduced to Lucas Cranach, the Elder. He was a businessman, an artist and a good friend of Martin Luther. It was Lucas Cranach who painted most of the pictures we have of Martin Luther. Frederick the Wise decided that it was important that the people know as much as possible about Martin Luther, including what he looked like. He wanted Martin Luther and his reforming work in the church to become a “household name” throughout Germany. So he hired Lucas Cranach, who, in addition to being a well -known artist, was also a realtor, small businessman and city council member in the town of Wittenberg.

Lucas Cranach provided the paintings and woodcuts for the many pamphlets Luther wrote as well as the Small Catechism and Luther’s German translation of the Bible. The longer Luther and Cranach worked together, the closer they grew as good friends. When Luther needed homes for nuns who were leaving their convents to follow Luther’s teachings, it was Cranach who provided housing. When Martin Luther married one of these nuns, Katherina Von Bora, Cranach was a witness at the wedding.

Cranach the Artist

As time went on, Luther and Cranach were godparents for each other’s children. But Lucas Cranach was not just a “Luther” artist. Throughout his life, he painted for many patrons, including artwork featuring Catholic saints and Greek myths. His paintings and altar pieces are still found in museums all over the world. In short, Lucas Cranach, the Elder was a man who exemplified Luther’s doctrine of vocation: that all stations in life are necessary for society and are God pleasing. We also are thankful for the enduring work of Lucas Cranach, for it because of his artwork, we too can know more about Martin Luther.

From the Trinity Lutheran Church Faribault March, 2017 Newsletter

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