The Luther Trail in Saxony - opening of part of the route between Zwickau and Torgau
It is good to shake off the things that weigh us down on a daily basis - the Luther Trail provides the opportunity to do just that.
The "Luther Trail in Saxony" invites you to visit the site of the Reformation. Discover the impact that the Reformation has left behind in this landscape rich with tradition and history. The Luther Trail is a spiritual hiking trail that leads through scenic regions. It connects towns, sites and places where Martin Luther and his companions operated. On 4 June 2014, a further part of the "Luther Trail in Saxony" will be opened in Gnandstein - the link to the trails in Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt is thereby complete. Central Germany has gained an important route, which presents itself with its large and small treasures on a subject that is as prevailing now as it was over the last 500 years.
THE INWARD-TURNED INDIVIDUAL
From Gnandstein over Borna to Neukieritzsch
Some historians are certain, others are unsure: Did Martin Luther preach at the Gnandstein castle chapel, one of best-preserved Romanesque fortifications in Saxony? A dated supporting document does not exist, only a depiction by the Zwickau artist Peter Breuer, who portrayed the Protestant Reformer giving a speech in the magnificent late Gothic room. He can be viewed on one of the three winged altars. Nevertheless, the Reformation reached the town early on. The lords of Gnandstein from the beginning of the 15th century until 1945 were the von Einsiedels. The family belonged to one of the first Saxon aristocratic families who joined the Lutheran movement. The intense correspondence between Haubold von Einsiedel and his brothers, the significantly younger half-brother Heinrich Hildebrand and Heinrich Abraham, with Luther and other Protestant Reformers is evidence of this. Haubold met Luther ? there were apparently numerous personal encounters, but it isn't clear where and when.
Haubold, a man with a declared humanistic disposition, raised his brothers after his father, Heinrich I von Einsiedel, passed away in 1507. Under his aegis, the late Gothic building of the richly decorated Gnandstein parish church was completed. His tomb and that of other family members is located in this church.
When after his death in 1522, his brothers managed the collective castle property, the enfeoffment of the lords of Gnandstein, who were attached to the Reformation, was endangered yet again. Duke George, a staunch Catholic, tried to influence the young men. At the end of 1527, there was even a set-back. The territorial lord George the Bearded forbade 18 towns from providing their Einsiedel feudal lords any interest, income, services and labour. He ordered the expulsion of Lutheran pastors and the return of Catholic priests. In case of disobedience, the von Einsiedel brothers were to sell their property and leave the region. In order to avoid this, they yielded to the order and dismissed Gnandstein?s pastor. Yet the clerical position remained vacant, and a different Protestant pastor assumed office later that same year. The lords of the castle retained their Lutheran views, and their entire barony became Protestant. Luther described the family as an exceptional light in the darkness of nobility, which primarily still followed the Roman faith at the beginning of the Reformation. This example conveys how difficult it was for progressive aristocrats to assert themselves against backward rulers who still clung to early Christianity. Luther was reluctant when the Gnandstein brothers yielded to the territorial lord, yet he remained in regular correspondence with Heinrich Hildebrand. Von Einsiedel found it unfair, despite his origins, to hold on to traditional serfdom. Wage labour for the monarch's subjects would be better in his opinion. Luther spoke against the abolition of serfdom. Both substantiated their dispositions with citations from the Bible. Heinrich Hildebrand eventually conceded, however bequeathed his subjects with 3700 guilder in his will, which was an enormous sum. It was this social justice that caused furore during his time.
Luther often travelled to Borna when his journeys took him south. He stopped over at his friend, Michael von der Straßen's, place at am Markt 9. Von der Straßen was a passionate advocate of the Reformation. For many years, Luther was unable to take the shorter route via Leipzig because of danger. He was safe to the south of Leipzig, as the citizens in Wittenberg had already asked for a "decent preacher" in 1519. In 1520, Wolfgang Fusius became the first Protestant pastor in Borna. At the time, a Catholic priest still worked there, but he complained that almost no citizens attended his masses and that they scorned the sacraments. The Protestant belief had already spread.
Luther preached at St Mary's parish church, and showed an interest in the emotional life of the faithful. The Emmaus Church is adjacent to St Mary's. It was relocated to this location in 2007 from Heuersdorf, which is 12 km away.
In October 2011, the sculpture of the Lower Saxon sculptor, Hilko Schomerus, was erected on the Luther Square. A monk who seems despondent, afflicted with anxieties and self-doubt. It is Luther as the Junker Jörg with a dense beard, who left Wittenberg in 1522 after social unrest, in order to proceed to the Wartburg. Because the imperial ban was imposed on him, he took on the guise of a Junker. The metal sculpture in Borna, which is approx. 170cm tall, boldly raises a hand while the other one is clenched in a fist. The face expresses internal agony. The young Luther senses that he has to accomplish a great task, yet hesitates given the magnitude of it. Luther in person spoke of homo incurvates in se, the "inward-turned individual," who could only rely on his belief of God's mercy, and nothing else. It is a well-made statue that alludes to the belief that the experience of faith leads to inner developments; that it takes time for the free Christian to unfold. Hilko Schomerus has translated Luther's sermons in Borna from almost 500 years ago.
Borna's parish church originates from the first half of the 13th century. Around 200 years later, it was rebuilt into a three-naved, late Gothic hall church. The church bells from the 15th century still toll. Borna, which for a long time was the centre of brown coal mining, can look back on 750 years of history. This is shown by the Reichstor as part of the former city fortification. A small museum has objects from the Reformation period on display, such as Bibles and German-language hymnbooks, as well as the "Luther with the circle of translators" oleograph from the 19th century.
The Luther monument in Neukieritzsch shows the portraits of the married couple on cast-iron lockets on a 3.5m tall obelisk. The monument was erected in 1884 in Zöllsdorf, which became a victim of the mining industry. That is why it was relocated to Neukieritzsch's town centre. Today it is a large community with a modern church, which was build after the reunification of Germany and is called the Katharina von Bora church.
Luther's wife was given the Zöllsdorf estate in 1540 by her husband as a widow's residence. Her family, the von Boras, used to have their ancestral seat here before it was lost. Luther himself was never here, but his wife often travelled to the manor with her horse and cart - a two-day journey from Wittenberg. She usually stayed several weeks, as the land produced large quantities of food for her household in Wittenberg.
A commemorative plaque hangs in the Katharine-Luther chapel in Lippendorf, a district of Kieritzsch. It commemorates Katharina von Bora's birthplace.
Text: © TV SBuHL, Roland Mischke