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Posts Tagged ‘Katherine von Bora’

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“Katherine, I’m terribly sorry, but there’s nothing else to do. We have no money to hire a nursemaid for you children, and now that your mother is gone…”  His voice trailed off.

Is that what Hans von Bora told his five-year old daughter?  No record has been left.  We do know that, in 1504, after the death of her mother, Katherine was sent to a convent in Nimbschen, Germany. At age nine, she was transferred to Convent Marienthron, where she took her vows and became a nun. Katherine was just sixteen years old.

Katherine’s duties gave her opportunity to learn management and care of a large estate, since the convent owned much property. Proceeds covered the expenses for the forty-four nuns and forty servants.  They also made a profit.

About this time a tract was secretly passed among the young nuns titled, “The Monastic Life, and the Marriage of Priests, Nuns and Monks.” Monks, nuns, and clergy should be free to marry, it said. Marriage should be kept; it is monasteries that should be given up.

As this message spread it was not just monasteries that began to empty but convents also. Twelve nuns from Marienthron chose to escape on Easter evening, in April of 1523.  Among them was Katherine. Three of the young women were returned to their families, the other nine secretly delivered by wagon under cover of night to a nearby town. It happened to be the home of the monk who wrote the tract, and he took personal responsibility to see that the nine nuns were well taken care of.

Husbands were found for some of the women; others were given positions in households. Katherine was in the latter group. One suitor, a university student, did court Katherine that summer. A deep friendship grew between them, but when he returned to school, Katherine never heard from him again. Perhaps his parents did not approve of a marriage between their son and a former nun.

Was Katherine’s heart broken after this first experience of love?  Did she wonder why God would allow such a painful turn of events?  Again, no record exists.  We can only surmise that Katherine felt great disappointment as would any young woman in such circumstances.

Several other suitors came forward, but Katherine was content to stay and work in the home of the Lucas Cranach family.

Meanwhile, the monk who wrote the tract about marriage had left the monastery. He was considering taking a bride himself. Katherine let it be known that she was interested, as affection for the caring man had developed during the two years she had known him.

On June 15, 1525, the couple announced their engagement before five witnesses.   Immediately following was the wedding!

An abandoned Augustinian cloister was given to the couple for their home. Katherine became mistress of this virtual estate.  (The first floor alone contained forty rooms with cells above.)

Eventually every room was occupied, not just by their own six children, but by widows, students, and orphans that the couple took in. In fact, Katherine and her husband adopted four orphaned children from their relatives.

Can you imagine caring for so many people—without such appliances as stove, refrigerator, washer, or dryer?

But God had prepared Katherine to manage the estate.  Remember her duties at Marienthron Convent?  Katherine  was on the go from daybreak to night, overseeing the multitude of household responsibilities, the animals, a large garden, the brewery, and large parcels of land she purchased in order to grow grain for the animals.

That’s not all. Katherine ministered to the needs in her community, giving care to the sick and counsel to the hurting.

She made it possible for her husband to travel, preach, and teach, knowing that all would be well taken care of at home.

Day after day, for twenty years, Katherine served others in and around her home.   How ironic that one of the few quotes of Katherine von Bora which has survived the centuries should be:

“I’ve read enough [of the Bible]. I’ve heard enough. I know enough. Would to God I lived it.”

According to the historical record, Katherine most certainly lived by the truth of God’s Word. Who can deny her courage, perseverance, love of others, and servant’s heart?  She stands as a worthy example for us to follow.

Katherine’s husband grew to appreciate her greatly and love her deeply. He called her “Kittie, My Rib” and  “The Morning Star of Wittenberg.”

Does the name of their hometown sound familiar? Wittenberg was the home of Martin Luther.

The husband of Katherine von Bora was none other than Martin Luther himself.

 

(Sources:  www.the-highway.com, http://www.rpmministries.org, http://www.helios.augustana.edu, http://www.lutheranhistory.org, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org, http://www.haventoday.org.  Art credit:  www.lutherin.de.)

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