On October 31, 1517, exactly 500 years ago today, priest and scholar Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
The piece of paper contained the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.
Luther in his theses condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. He specifically mentioned the papal practice of asking that payment called ‘indulgences’ be made for the forgiveness of sins.
At the time of making the theses public, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Interestingly Prince Frederick III the Wise had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, Germany.
However, many church members traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins.
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