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October 31 is Reformation Day

October 31 is celebrated as Reformation Day, commemorating the day that Martin Luther nailed The 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

Martin Luther nails The 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Door.

This was around the time that a Dominican priest commissioned by the Archbishop was raising funds to finance the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He did this by the selling of “indulgences.” The indulgences were payments for the forgiveness of sin.

Luther’s theses began as a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz and Maddeburg in protest of the practice of the sale of indulgences. His original intent as not to challenge the church but rather to present a scholarly objection to the practices of the church.

Luther’s writings were quickly translated from Latin into German and began to spread throughout the church. Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1521 by Pope Leo X.

Luther was asked that same year to recant his writings. Speaking before a representative of The Holy roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, Luther said “"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

The Emperor issued the Edict of Worms which declared Luther to be a heretic and an outlaw. The Edict gave permission to kill Luther without consequences. But under the protection of Prince Frederick, Luther began a ten year project to translate the Bible into German.

Reformation Day is celebrated particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed Churches. It is a civil holiday in Slovenia and a national holiday in Chile. Many churches in the United States transfer the celebration to the Sunday on or before October 31, naming it Reformation Sunday. Some move it to the Sunday after November 1 and celebrate it together with All Saint’s Day.


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