Luther died on 13th December 1845, which was nine weeks after the Council of Trent - the so-called Counter Reformation - had begun. As it happened, he died in Eisleben, the town of his birth. Martin Luther lived in Wittenberg, but had set off for Eisleben on 17th January 1546 in order to settle some disputes concerning his family's business interests. The negotiations were successful, but Luther had been weak with various ailments for some time and became too weak to travel back Wittenberg.
In Eisleben he spent his last weeks in a late Gothic house on the south side of Andreaskirchplatz, preaching at the church each Sunday until his death on 18th February 1546. After Luther's death, his coffin was displayed for two days in Eisleben, then his body was transported through Halle and Bitterfeld back to Wittenberg. On 22nd February 1546 Luther was laid to rest in the Castle Church in Wittenberg, where previously he had nailed his ninety-five thesis to the church doors. (Eisleben was renamed Lutherstadt in 1946.)
Luther developed into a prodigious writer. His complete works fill over one hundred volumes. He translated the Bible and set a style for the German language. More than 2500 of his letters have survived. Together with the Table Talk transcribed by his students, they offer a vivid picture of his life.
It is a common and popular misconception that the origin of Luther's departure from Catholicism was his disagreement with the Church's teaching on indulgences, but the question of indulgences came only after he had already begun to preach other doctrines deemed heretical by Rome. Nor did Luther initially direct his attention to the reformation of the whole Church, since even Luther himself declared that at this time he disagreed with only a few Church doctrines.
Much less was his rupture with Rome caused by the supposed rivalry between the Augustinians and the Dominicans on account of the latter's being preferred over the former by the Pope to preach the Indulgence. History shows that there were many noted Augustinians preaching the Indulgence, as, for example, the learned and holy Johann Paltz, one of Luther's former professors at Erfurt. Moreover Luther's divergence from Catholic doctrine started long before the time of his struggle with the Dominican friar, John Tetzel.
(Continued on the next page.)