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500th Anniversary: Hungarian Lutheran Church To Lend Luther’s Will To Wittenberg

Tamás Székely 2015.07.27.

The Hungarian Lutheran Church will lend the handwritten will of Martin Luther to the city of Wittenberg for the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation in 2017, Lutheran Bishop Tamás Fabiny told news agency MTI. The writings will be on display in Wittenberg from August to November, Fabiny said, adding that in exchange for the document, the Hungarian National Museum will receive a replica of the will to be put on display during those four months. The National Museum will also be lent a valuable artefact from the Wittenberg collection: a Hungarian flag belonging to a group of Hungarian students studying at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in the 1520s.

The city of Wittenberg asked the Hungarian Lutheran National Archives to lend it the will at the beginning of 2015. In April, Károly Hafenscher, president of the Synod of the Hungarian Lutheran Church and commissioner appointed to help the work of the Reformation Memorial Committee, held talks with Stephan Dorgerloh, minister of cultural affairs of Saxony-Anhalt on a potential deal, with the final decision being left up to the Hungarian Lutheran Church. The German government then said it considered it essential for one of Luther’s most personal writings to be on display at an exhibition of 95 of Luther’s personal belongings.

Luther wrote the will to ensure that his wife, Katherine, would receive his properties and possessions. According to Saxon law at the time, widows were only entitled to get their dowry back. The will begins: “I, Martin Luther, doctor, etc. acknowledge with this my own handwriting that I have given to my beloved and faithful housewife Katherine as an endowment (or whatever one can call it) for her lifetime, which she will be at liberty to manage according to her pleasure and to her best interest, and give it to her by the authority of this document on this very present day…” The will was donated to the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Budapest in the 19th century.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: public domain