Women’s Month: Katharina von Bora

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By: Gabriela Yareliz

First day of March! March is Women’s Month, and throughout the month, I like to feature notable women who marked history, show boldness, take up action or causes, or minister to people in a special way.

The first woman I want to feature is one my mother told me about, Katharina von Bora. I hadn’t heard much about her, except an anecdote. Haven Today, a great podcast and radio show, featured her, and I learned a lot about her.

Katharina von Bora was a former nun. Not just any former nun, but a former nun who married a former monk; a monk by the name of Martin Luther

She was convinced of Protestant belief by Martin Luther’s tracts, and as a result, she and some other fellow nuns escaped the convent they belonged to.

Luther began marrying off the nuns to good Christian men, but he couldn’t convince Katharina to marry any of her many suitors. Katharina had a better idea…

She basically made it known that she wouldn’t marry anyone but Martin Luther. (The woman knew what she wanted– and can you blame her?!) Luther was concerned about whether he’d be able to provide for her, but he ended up convinced that marrying her would be a great idea. (He would get into in-depth Biblical theology discussions with her. The best kind of relationships stem from friendship.) When they married, von Bora was 26 and Luther was 41.

Katharina was a pillar in Luther’s life. He always acknowledged her and treated her as an equal, and he included her in his journey, physical and spiritual. She made gardens and brought light into his life. She ministered to people all over town and cared for others. Both had cute, playful nicknames for each other and embodied the faith they professed.

Both were filled with wit, love and light. This household reflected, as Luther said, “Marriage is a school for character.”

One time, when Martin Luther was depressed, von Bora put on a black dress and stood in the doorway. Luther was alarmed and asked her Who died? She replied, God apparently, or Dr. Luther wouldn’t be so sad. (Paraphrase). This action and comment called Luther out of his darkness. She had a way of reaching him and uplifting him.

We often think of Martin Luther as the revolutionary, but he himself stated he would not have been the man he was without Katharina. Both revolutionized the world, together.

I love Katharina von Bora’s life story. She was decided, knew what she wanted, a Bible scholar in her own right, strong, caring, young and filled with beauty of character that flowed out of her and changed people’s lives. The month of March is all about women empowerment and inspiring ourselves to become the best women we can be.

Katharina’s life shows the power of a woman who is filled with faith, and how she can inspire and change the world.

[A special thanks to those involved in the Haven Today podcast! Information reflected here came from Professor Russ Reeves, of Providence Christian College in California, and Charles Morris, host of Haven Today.]

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