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Martin Luther fights the devil with ink

ink spot
Did the Reformer Luther really throw the ink pot in order to fight the devil? (Photo: epd-bild/Ulrich Kneise)

According to legend, the devil is said to have molested Martin Luther in the winter of 1521/1522 in his room on the Wartburg in Thuringia. When the monk, who was totally absorbed by his work, heard a scratching and chafing, he valiantly grasped the ink pot and threw it right at the devil's grimacing face, in order to chase away the perpetrator, who had disturbed his task of translating the Holy Scripture into German.

This is how a blue ink stain next to the oven is said to have originated. Today, there is only a hole. But nobody can tell what exactly has happened at that time in the guest room on the Wartburg. Although Luther has reported many events from his life on the castle, he did not say anything about the alleged ink stain.

Visitors of the Wartburg loved the blue stain on the wall

Since 1650, written documents and pictures are dedicated to the blue stain on the wall. It may be doubted whether the ink stain comes from Luther's time at all. Half a dozen times it was repainted or applied to a different place. Many visitors of the Luther Room did not content themselves with touching it, but scratched a piece off, in order to take it home as a relic.

It is said that the stain was in the room above and behind the green oven. Today, it is gone. According to some legends, Luther is said to have thrown the ink pot not during his work, but at night, when he was unable to sleep because of noise in the room. But it also remains unclear how he could have grabbed the ink pot while laying in bed.

Where the stain was, the plaster is gone

Possibly, Luther's statement of having dispelled the devil with ink, i.e. with his writings, has been taken too literally. "Although the stain was not renewed for a long time and has been gone from the Luther Room for more than 100 years, several visitors of the Wartburg still claim to have seen the large blue stain at the oven wall with their own eyes", said Andreas Volkert, public relations officer of the Wartburg.

Haunted by the devil, by ghosts and demons

Since his childhood, Martin Luther felt haunted by the devil and by evil ghosts and demons. In Winter 1521/1522, when he stayed as Knight George on the Wartburg, under protection of the Elector, and translated the Bible into German, his fears of such attacks became even worse in the loneliness of the dark walls.

He held the devil himself responsible for his doubts, sadness and depression, which overcame him time and again. Whether there was a noise outside, a sack with nuts rustled or a black dog appeared in his room - he believed that the devil was present. And in the olden days there were a lot of wooden furniture in the castle, as well as hazel nuts and herbs – playgrounds for mice.