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500 Years Since Martin Luther Launched Christian Reformation

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Here's What's Trending Today...

Martin Luther and his 95 Theses were trending on Google Tuesday.

It is a strange place to find Luther, who lived 500 years ago in what is now Germany. He was a Roman Catholic religious worker, who became a professor of theology.

Luther disagreed with some of the Catholic Church’s teachings. He especially disliked the custom of selling indulgences. It enabled wealthy people to pay the church to free themselves of their sins. In other words, clergy could clear them of any wrongdoing or violation of Catholic teachings.

On October 31 in the year 1517, Luther reportedly left his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in the town of Wittenberg. His writings disputed the Catholic Church’s power over believers. He said that one’s trust in God, not actions, would lead to salvation.

Luther wrote “Why does not the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of Saint Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”

Some historians question whether Luther actually did nail his theses to the door of the church. But all agree that his writings spread with the help of the printing press. His Theses became a kind of 16th century trending topic across central Europe. The Pope condemned them as conflicting with the Church’s teachings.

The incident launched what became known as Reformation and led to the Protestant movement to break away from the Catholic Church.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, left, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, and President of Germany's parliament Bundestag Wolfgang Schaeuble, center right, attend ceremonies for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, left, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, and President of Germany's parliament Bundestag Wolfgang Schaeuble, center right, attend ceremonies for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

On the 500th anniversary of Luther’s act of resistance, members of German youth organizations nailed their own theses to the doors of 300 churches around Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others attended a religious service at Castle Church in Wittenberg. And October 31, Reformation Day, was a public holiday in all of Germany.

And that is What’s Trending.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

thesis - n, plural theses a long pice of writing on a particular subject

trending - n. something that is popular

indulgence - n. in the Catholic Church, putting aside part or all punishment that is due for committing sins

salvation - n. the act of saving someone from sin

Crassus - n. Marcus Licinius Crassus was the richest man in Roman history

nail - v. to attach with a nail

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