The free state opened the anniversary of the Reformation in Eisenach on Martin Luther’s birthday. The highlight of the jubilee year is the National Special Exhibition at Wartburg Castle.
Thuringia begins the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
Ecumenical services, a public festival and a ceremony at Wartburg Castle heralded Thuringia’s opening of the jubilee year marking 500 years of the Reformation. Appropriately, Martin Luther’s birthday (10.11.) was chosen as the day for the launch under the motto “Luther 2017 – Voices of the Reformation in Thuringia and Europe”. State premier Bodo Ramelow (Linke) declared that the various Thuringian activities throughout the jubilee year are aimed at both the local population as well as guests from the rest of Germany and abroad. Guests attending the ceremony included the Swedish Archbishop Antje Jackelén, who spoke on the European dimension of the Reformation, and the former Swiss ambassador and member of the National Council Tim Guldiman. A particular highlight of the launch event was the illuminated Wartburg Castle, which showed scenes from the life of Martin Luther.
Offers are open to all
“Every few 100 years we need a Reformation. We must always be prepared to question ourselves and our actions,” said Thuringia’s premier Bodo Ramelow at the opening ceremony in Eisenach. He noted that for centuries the Reformation has been celebrated as a demarcatory event despite the common ground shared by the various sides. “Preparation for this anniversary has shown us a new path of understanding and considerateness,” he stressed. Interreligious understanding and the dialogue between religious and secular people are more important today than ever before, he asserted.
The opening in Eisenach on the birthday of the reformer Martin Luther had great symbolism, emphasised Ramelow. Traditionally, this day is celebrated in Thuringia by Catholics and Protestants as well as many people without clear religious affiliation in the form of St. Martin’s Day processions. He hoped for similar acceptance in the highlights of the next twelve months, the exhibition at Wartburg Castle, the Kirchentage leading up to it and the State Garden Show with God’s Garden in Apolda.
Celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation together
Late in the afternoon hundreds of children walked from St. George’s Church to Karlsplatz holding glowing lanterns. They were led by the bishops Ilse Junkermann of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany and Ulrich Neymeyr of the Catholic Diocese of Erfurt. The State Bishop drew attention to a special aspect of the jubilee year: “For the first time in the history of our Churches we are celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation together with brothers and sisters in faith from the Catholic Church and other Christian churches – together as a large festival of Christ.”
Erfurt’s Catholic bishop Ulrich Neymeyr paid tribute to Martin Luther’s efforts to reform the Church of his day. “Unfortunately it brought about schism, a wound that must pain all Christians,” said Neymeyr. For the bishop, all ecumenical efforts, particularly in recent decades, should be viewed all the more positively. He said he was “hopeful and confident that through the commemorative year, which we are also celebrating as a year of Christ, we Christians will find our way to deep unity.”
Keywords: anniversary of the Reformation, Wartburg, Eisenach