Martin Luther

"I despise the pope, the Church and the councils, and I worship only Christ."

The son of devoutly Catholic and extremely strict parents, young Luther was a product of Christian mythology. During his childhood Luther believed the winds and water were inhabitited by elves, gnomes, fairies, mermaids, spirits and witches. Luther was taught by his mother that these 'people' played minor pranks like stealing eggs, milk and butter. School taught him to fear God and revere the Church. But in 1505, Luther's devotion will take on new meaning. On the outskirts of a Saxon village, Luther was knocked to the ground by a bolt of lightning that nearly struck him. He cried in terror, "St. Anne (the patroness of miners) help me! I will become a monk!" Although he would later become famous for denouncing those he asked that night to help him, Luther did follow through with his promise.
For nearly a decade, Luther read, researched and lectured on the Scriptures. Near the end of that time, Luther came up with his views concerning the power of faith. This new revelation occurred not in a field during a dramatic storm but in a castle tower while performing "the most mundane of daily tasks." Faith alone, Luther concluded, was what guaranteed salvation, not simply "good works of Earth" and certainly not indulgences sold by Johann Tetzel. What Luther found in scripture, specifically the book of Psalm, contradicted what he saw happening to the Church. Luther wrote, "Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems a ...number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?" Luther set forth his arguments in his "Ninety-Five Theses" and other writings that followed. After a series of pamphlets in response to a Papal Bull calling for Luther to recant, Pope Leo admitted there was 'a wild boar has invaded the Lord's vineyard.' Luther burned the Papal Bull excommunicating him. Calls for charges of heresy echoed louder throughout the church hierarchy.