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February 27, 2005

Martin Luther's Munchkins

Shanna, an LCMS, WELS pastor's wife and friend of mine, recently shared this inspiring portrait the Luther family:

Luther and Katherine had six children: Hans (June 7, 1526); Elizabeth (December 10, 1527); Magdalene (May 4, 1529); Martin (November 9, 1531); Paul (January 29, 1533; and Margaret (December 17, 1534). Elizabeth died as an infant in August 1528. Magdalene died in her early teens in 1542.

The deaths of his children ripped his heart to shreds. "I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." is from the time after Magdalene's death.

Their home was noted for its liveliness and its happiness.

In addition to their own children, Luther and Katherine had numerous other people living in their home with them. Katherine’s aunt, Lena, lived with them for many years. They helped raise eight orphaned nieces and nephews and provided lodging for various tutors, exiled clergymen, escaped nuns, government officials and visitors, university colleagues and many students. Many meals were eaten with as many as twenty-five at the table! All visitors were expected to take part in family customs, devotions, and prayer.

It was an eclectic home...full and large..open to anyone.

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 commented once to Justus Jonas children were the "best gifts of God," and lamented that so many parents seemed to overlook and ignore them.

Luther prepared his Small Catechism with parents and children in mind. He used it diligently within his own home. He also wrote hymns for his children to share with them the wonders of the gospel. The well-known Christmas hymn, From Heaven Above to Earth I Come, was written by Luther for his children. While away to from Wittenberg at the time of the Diet of Augsburg, Luther wrote his son a charming letter describing heaven as a pleasant garden filled with delightful activities for faithful boys and girls.


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I want to be Katie Luther when I grow up!

Posted by: Kelly at February 28, 2005 02:22 AM

Wow! That's the kind of home I'd want to grow up in! :-)

Posted by: Dy at February 28, 2005 04:22 AM

We've been taking a class on church history at our church. The session(s) on Luther did mention this aspect of him as well as other good things. We also learned some of the more undesirable aspects of Luther's temperament. It's *great* that he loved his kids like this, but let's just say that he wouldn't have been an exactly easy man to be married to...

I suppose that can be said about any one of us, though - that we have both good and bad traits to be dealt with, or overlooked as the case may be. Just thinking...

Posted by: Megan at February 28, 2005 01:56 PM

Yeah, Megan, it sounds like his less-than-sanctified self was still very evident throughout his life. Thank God for His grace! (And that at least God lets us get some things "right" in life. . .)

Hubby says he'd still rather have a beer with Martin Luther than any other theologian he knows!

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 28, 2005 02:50 PM

Hello. I was reading a post on another website where someone had asked for reasons why other moms "Don't Babywise" their precious ones. I read your "What Ezzo says..." series and then some other things from your site, and then noticed the TULIPS everywhere (Duh...) and realized why I like so much of what you say ;-)

I gave birth to my 5th child 2 months ago today. 3 days later I held his beautiful perfect little body as his life returned to the Giver of all life, and wept as I have never wept before in this vale of tears. Reading about Martin Luther's loss of his dear infant, along with other testimonies of grieving parents in _From Grief to Glory_ by James W. Bruce III, has been very comforting and encouraging.

Anyways, I can tell from what I've read here so far I'll probably be back to walk in your virtual garden again soon!

Posted by: Kathryn at February 28, 2005 06:10 PM

Oh Kathryn, I'm so sorry about your tremendous loss. My heart aches for you tonight.

Posted by: Megan at March 1, 2005 04:42 AM

What a great site you have! I am aways so impressed with people who can create things like this. Isn't Shanna WELS, though, not LCMS?

Kathryn, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I'm crying here as I hold my precious babe who is about the same age as yours...what a heartbreaking thing. I am glad you found comfort from that book. I can't imagine your pain, and pray for your comfort.

Posted by: Meghan at March 2, 2005 05:40 PM

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