Monday, November 28, 2016

The Death of Luther

How did Luther Die?

The official Protestant version narrates that the greatest architect of the Christian rupture died of a natural death on February 15, 1546, after a trip to Eisleben and suffering from angina pectoris; Was it really like this?

A contemporary German scholar, Dietrich Emme, offers a very different version in a review of events. In his book "Martin Luther, Seine Jugend und Studienzeit 1483-1505. Eine dokumentarische Darstelleng "[1] ("Martin Luther: Youth and Years of Study from 1483 to 1505. Bonn 1983") points out that Luther committed suicide, and he is not alone in pointing this out.

Likewise, a Freudian psychoanalyst, M. Roland Dalbiez, in his study Luther's Anguish [2], attributes him "... a very serious neurosis of anguish, so grave that one may wonder whether it has not been due to a border-state between neurosis on the one hand and “suicide raptus” on the other, a teleological anti-suicidal automatism"[3].

Indeed, Luther had suicidal tendencies, as it can be corroborated in his own "Tischreden" ("Table Talk"), where one of his conversations with Pastor Güben Leonhard Beyer, in 1551 is documented:

"He told us that when he was a prisoner the devil had wickedly tormented him and that he had laughed heartily when he (Luther) took a knife in his hand, saying:" Go ahead! Kill yourself! "(...). This has happened to me very often, so much as to put a knife in my hand ... and what evil thoughts came to mind in this way, so evil that I could no longer pray "[4].

In 1606, Franciscan Heinrich Sedulius in his "Preaescriptiones adversus haereses", narrates something analogous bringing up the valuable testimony of Ambrosio Kudtfeld, a witness and man of confidence of the "reformer" who, far from accounting a death from angina , says:

"On the night before his death, Martin Luther let himself be overcome by his habitual intemperance and in such excess that we were obliged to take him, completely drunk, and place him in his bed. Then, we retired to our bedroom, without sensing anything unpleasant! The next morning, we went back to our lord to help him get dressed, as usual. Then - oh, what a pain! - we saw our master Martin hanging from the bed and strangled miserably! His mouth was crooked, th right part of his face was black, his neck was red and deformed."[5]

Indeed, at that time raised beds supported by columns were used.

"In the face of this horrible spectacle, we felt great fear! We ran, without delay, to the princes, his guests of the day before, to announce to them the execrable end of Luther! They, full of terror like us, immediately promised us, with a thousand promises and the most solemn oaths, to observe, with respect to that event, an eternal silence. Then they ordered us to remove the rope from Luther's hideous corpse, lay him on his bed, and then report to the people that "Master Luther" had suddenly abandoned this life!"[6]

Maritain himself points out that Dr. De Coster, who examined Luther, explained that the deceased's mouth was crooked with the face black and the neck red and deformed [7].

Likewise, Oratorian priest Bozio, in his book "De Signis Ecclesiae", published in 1592 [8], points out that one of the reformer's household indicated that his lord was found hanged from the columns of his bed; Dr. Géorges Claudin says the same: [9].

As Villa points out, "Luther, then, did not die a natural death, as has been falsely written in all the history books of Protestantism, but died as a suicidal, hanged from his bed after a splendid dinner,  in which, as usual, he had drunk too much and was satisfied with food beyond all bounds!"[10].

Paradoxically, that February 15, 1546, feast of the Chair of St. Peter, he, who had railed against the Church, the Papacy, and the Catholic doctrine, voluntarily abandoned his mortal life at three in the morning, the anti-hour of Redemption that Our Lord Jesus Christ brought to us on Calvary.

It's sad: but that's the end of those who live in a bad way.

Don’t let them deceive you…

P. Javier Olivera Ravasi

SOURCETranslated from Spanish by Catholicity blog.

1] It is worth saying that the two most competent historians in Germany on Luther’s life: Dr. Theobald Beer and Prof. Remigius Baumer, have corroborated both the material and the documents cited by Emme.
[2] Roland Dalbiez, L’angoisse de Luther, Tequi, Paris 1974.
[3] Luigi Villa, Martin Lutero, Homicidal and Suicidal, Civilta, Brescia s/f, 5 (,
[4] Luigi Villa, op. cit., 12 13.
[5] Ibídem, 16. The text in Latin can be seen in Heinrici Seduli ex Ordine Minorum, Praescriptiones adversus haereses, Officina Plantiniana, Antwerp 1606, 257 pp. (online version here:
[6] Ibídem.  An interesting coincidence is that Maritain narrates in his book “Three Reformers” that several friends, companions and first disciples of Luther also committed suicide.
[7] Maritain’s information is contained in the French edition, not the Spanish one.
[8] Tomás Bozio, De signis Ecclesiae, Pedro Landry, Lyon 1593-1594, 3 vols.
[9] Géorges Claudin, La mort de Luther, Noisy-Le-Sec, Paris 1900, 99 (
[10] Luigi Villa, op. Cit., 17.