Just as I was about to post this, my internet went on the fritz and I was not able to get this post up till now – technically it is still Friday for me, but it might be rather late for those of you looking for a Friday post. Apologies!
Real-life Romance: A Monk and a Nun Get Married
Who is the next subject of our Real-life Romance series? Well, this might surprise you, but it is Martin Luther. Whoa… what can be romantic about the outspoken and fiery man who spent every other moment insulting the Roman Catholic Church? Well, we all know romance plots are based on getting unlikely people to fall in love (and a good initial dislike of each other at first doesn’t hurt either). Now, what’s more unlikely than a monk and a nun getting married? Since, you know, the very definition of such things is that they vowed to NEVER marry, or really think about the opposite sex much at all.
(Just as a note – clearly Martin Luther is somewhat of a controversial figure, and clearly this post is going to touch slightly on the topic of religion – I’ll just say straight up that I am a Protestant, so I see more good sides to Martin Luther than maybe a Catholic would.)
Let’s start at the beginning. Martin Luther was a scholar who was convinced he would never marry – at first, because he’d become a monk and made a vow of celibacy, and later on, because it was just too dangerous to ask anyone to marry him. You see, at some point he began to argue that being a monk or being celibate didn’t necessarily make anyone more holy than anyone else, and that the this requirement of being a monk was just an unnecessary rule not mentioned in the Bible. But by this point, he’d also made a lot of enemies by, among other things, nailing to a church door a list of ninety-five things wrong with the way the church made money off ‘forgiving sins’, writing numerous incendiary pamphlets about what was wrong the pope and how the church at the time abused their power, and refusing to take back any of the insults he’d given. You know, just in general starting off the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church at this time did have a lot of power, and making several of the higher-ups in it very mad at you was not a way to guarantee a safe life. He himself wrote, “I shall never take a wife, as I feel at present. Not that I am insensible to my flesh or sex (for I am neither wood nor stone); but my mind is averse to wedlock because I daily expect the death of a heretic.”
Add into this the fact that Luther was a typical bachelor – apparently he wrote without shame that he once did not air his straw bed out for a year – and it doesn’t seem likely this man would marry at all.
But then there was Katharina von Bora, a nun, as we mentioned before. Except she wasn’t really a happy nun, since her father had stuck her in the convent because her mother had died and he’d wanted to remarry. Now, a lot of nuns had started leaving nunneries after hearing Luther disagreed with pressuring people into singleness (it was different, Luther thought, if they were one of the few who truly believed God had called them to be single – he disagreed with external pressure to be celibate), and the nuns in the convent Katharina lived at asked Luther for help in leaving. Luther helped twelve of them sneak out, and find their families or get married once they were out (since women didn’t have a ton of options at the time, they needed to have some way to survive). Except he couldn’t get rid of Katharina, once he’d got her out. Her family didn’t want her back. She refused to marry the man Luther tried to set her up with. Luther apparently didn’t like her very much, calling her proud and snobbish.
Of course, an initial strong dislike in any self-respecting romance plot doesn’t mean they will hate each other forever. In fact, it almost guarantees they will change their minds. And that’s exactly what happened – Katharina admitted to another Luther’s friend that Luther was the only one she’d consider marrying. And Luther came around enough to write, “I urge matrimony on others with so many arguments that I am myself almost moved to marry….” Somehow his dislike faded away. Finally he decided the threat of danger wasn’t enough to keep them apart any more. “If I can manage it, before I die, I will still marry my Katie to spite the devil.”
So they did get married, surprising many people who thought Luther would be a bachelor forever. They lived together harmoniously – or about as harmoniously as you can imagine two strong-willed people to live – for just over twenty years. Despite the unlikelihood of the two getting together, they somehow did. And that’s another real-life romance.
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