Roving ambassadors of the Reformation

They are “ambassadors” of a rather special kind: about one metre tall, made of black or cobalt blue plastic and easily transported. Minister of State Pieper has presented the Nordic embassies in Berlin with five such “Luther ambassadors” as part of the events marking the forthcoming anniversary of the Reformation.

On 31 October 2017 it will be 500 years since Martin Luther posted his Ninety Five Theses. To celebrate this anniversary in a fitting manner, the so-called Luther Decade was launched in 2008. The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and state institutions have joined forces in planning a host of events leading up to the anniversary.

At the presentation ceremony held at the Felleshus of the Nordic embassies in Berlin, Minister of State Pieper highlighted the tremendous impact the Reformation had had in the Nordic countries, where Luther’s ideas had spread like wildfire. As “an outstanding figure of the Enlightenment and ambassador of humanism”, Martin Luther deserved to be commemorated also in the countries where the Reformation had taken root and flourished. The statues were further intended to stimulate interest, she explained, in the history of the Reformation and how it is perceived in other parts of the world.

Martin Luther is said to have posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church on 31 October 1517. Protestant Christians celebrate this as the founding date of the Protestant faith.

Bringing Luther down from his pedestal

On behalf of the Nordic ambassadors, Norwegian ambassador Sven Svedman thanked Minister of State Pieper for the statues and promised to find them suitable locations. Their creator Prof. Ottmar Hörl explained that they were intended to bring Luther “down from his pedestal” and face to face with ordinary people. Wittenberg Mayor Eckhard Naumann recounted how the idea of such roving Luther ambassadors first arose. In 2010 the town’s historic Luther monument on the Market Square was dismantled and removed for restoration. During the weeks-long restoration work it was replaced by 800 “Luther ambassadors”, statues created by Ottmar Hörl in the coloursblack, crimson, cobalt blue and dark green.

Afterwards they were sent off to serve as roving ambassadors in Germany and beyond – also to places such as Thailand, Australia or northern Europe. “What goes out into the world is meaningful and alive,” Mayor Naumann noted. Good locations for the roving Luther ambassadors could be found really anywhere. “Outreach is precisely what Luther intended,” he added.

Last updated 12.06.2012

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