Well, this historical research has taken me down many a strange road, but none stranger than the road leading to Martin Luther’s Wedding Ring!
Browsing through some old copies of the Lincolnshire Chronicle, I perchance upon a story regarding what appears to be the wedding ring of Martin Luther (1483-1546). A servant, travelling towards Bautzen in Germany in 1844, finds a ring bearing the inscription “Martino Luther, Catherina V. Boren, die 31 October, 1525.” The ring is described in detail and is said to be ‘a perfect model of art’.
Here is the newspaper story:
A Curious Relic —The “Prussian Gazette”states that a young woman of Kama, who was travelling with her master’s family, found on the road to Bautzen a ring set in rubies, which had on one sidea representation in relief of Christ on the Cross, and onthe other the instruments of punishment. The ringbears this inscription— “Martino Luther, Catherina V. Boren, die 31 October, 1525.” The ring, which is well preserved, is a perfect model of art.
Source: Lincolnshire Chronicle – Friday 02 August 1844
After doing some research on the internet, it appears that copies of the wedding ring have been/are being made according to a description from an old Latin source, and they and a picture of the ring, are similar to the report in the Lincolnshire Chronicle. However, I can’t find any record of the whereabouts of the original wedding band, if indeed it still exists today.
Reading all four accounts, you’ll notice that the spellings of the names of Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora, along with the date of marriage, differ somewhat. Perhaps the discrepancies may be explained as errors in transcription, translation or communication over the course of 300 years?
The burning question is – was it the ORIGINAL ring which the servant girl found in 1844, and if so, what happened to it and where is the ring today? I’m thinking maybe it WAS the original, because The Intellectual Observer reported that the ring ‘belonged to a family at Leipsic as late as 1817’!
Can anyone shed anymore light on this?
- Martin Luther
- Katharina von Bora
I’ll leave you to read the background information below…
Martin Luther Wedding Band
Source 1: The Martin Luther Wedding Band recreation by James Avery, is 1/2″ wide. Set with an approximate 4mm round cabochon garnet and available in sizes 5 to 13. The Martin Luther wedding band is a recreation of the ring commemorating the marriage of Martin Luther and Catherine von Bora on June 13, 1525. The designs on the ring represent symbols of the Passion of Christ.
“The betrothal ring of Martin Luther with Catharine Von Bora, which is composed of an intricate device of gold work, set with a ruby, the emblem of exalted love. The gold devices represent all the symbols of the “Passion.” In the center is the crucified Saviour; on one side the spear with which the side was pierced, and the rod of reeds; on the other is a branch of hyssop; beneath are the dice with which the soldiers cast lots for the garment without a seam, and below are the three nails. The whole is arranged so as to make a large cross, surmounted by the ruby. Inside the ring are the names of the betrothed pair and the wedding day in German: Der 13 Janij, 1525. This ring was presented to the intended wife at the betrothal and worn by her after marriage.”
Source 2: “Wedding ring from Martin Luther: a copy made after a description from the 16th century. On June 13th (1525) Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther married at Wittenberg. As a wedding ring they used possibly a ring like Katharina as a nun used as an engagement to Christ. This wedding ring is made according to a description from an old Latin source. It shows the crucifixion of Christ together with the torture tools. These are a ladder, a lance, a whip, a scepter to mock the king’s majesty, the rod with the vinegar sponge, a sword, a robe and a bow. On the cross beam you see three burning hearts which display the misery of mother Mary. The red stone in the middle – a karfunkel – is a sign of the blood of Christ.
Source 3: The Intellectual Observer, February 1862 states: ‘The betrothment-ring of Luther, which belonged to a family at Leipsic as late as 1817, and is doubtless still preserved with the greatest care as a national relic of great interest, is composed of an intricate device of gold-work set with a ruby, the emblem of exalted love. The gold devices represent all the symbols of the “Passion.” In the center is the crucified Savior : on one side the spear, with which the side was pierced, and the rod of reeds of the flagellation. On the other is a leaf of hyssop. Beneath are the dies with which the soldiers cast lots for the garment without seam, and below are the three nails. At the back may be distinguished the inside of the ladder, and other symbols connected with the last act of the Atonement; the whole so grouped as to make a large cross, surmounted by the ruby, the most salient feature of the device. On the inside of the ring the inscriptions are still perfect. They contain the names of the betrothed pair, and the date of the wedding-day in German, “der 13 Junij 1525.” This was the ring presented to the wife at the betrothal, and worn by her after the marriage.