Martin Luther, photo by Tiffany Bridge
Happy Reformation Day, all. What? You didn’t know that October 31, 1517 was the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church door? If you were paying any attention at all in your high school European History class, you know that the resulting excommunications, politically motivated breaks with the Catholic Church disguised as religious conversions, and wars broke the political power of the Vatican, and eventually gave us the Europe we see on the map today. As a result, generations of history students get to inscribe little notes in the margins of their textbooks about the axiomatic truths of European History: “Remember, France Hates Germany. And Britain Hates Everyone.” Not to mention giving rise to the theological debates I regularly had until 3 AM in college. (What? You didn’t stay up all night debating theology in college?)
There’s a statue of ol’ Marty right in downtown DC. It belongs to the Luther Place Memorial Church on Thomas Circle. It’s less fussy than most of the other outdoor statuary in town, befitting a guy of Luther’s tastes. The base of the statue is a simple, three-tiered pillar with “MARTIN LUTHER” inscribed in block lettering. No famous quotes, no ornamentation. It was dedicated in 1884, in commemoration of his 400th birthday. According to the New York Times archive from 1883, the bronze statue cost $4,500, and another $2,500 for the base, shipping, and “incidentals.”
I took several photos of the statue this week, but of course it was cloudy and my little point-and-shoot was having trouble with the light. Better photos are available from some of our Flickr pool contributors:
Now, if only someone would erect a statue of John Calvin in DC, my Reformation-nerdery could be complete.