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Luther´s Return to Wittenberg

After Luther had left Wittenberg, Andreas Rudolf Bodenstein, better known as Andreas Karlstadt, preached in the city in his place. He had a strong opinion regarding the Reformation and above all advocated the abolishment of monasteries, offertory prayers and imagery in churches. The people became increasingly agitated and wound up and when the Town Council ultimately introduced the changes in the order of service and implemented extensive measures against poverty and sodomy as had been proposed by Luther since 1520, this led to riots and unrest.

Furthermore, an increasing number of nuns and monks started to leave the convents and monasteries in protest. Thomas Müntzer and the visionary Nikolaus Storch were even banished from Zwickau Abbey after vehemently protesting against infant baptism. The unrest continued to get worse and worse.

In a state of distress, the members of the Town Council appealed to Luther, who accepted their cry for help and soon returned to the town. Within a week, he was able to successfully convince the angry citizens that restrained reforms were the way forward. He explained to them that a change of mind and rethinking their opinion on the inside was more important than removing imagery and other elements. He introduced the Protestant Eucharist and even organised a Corpus Christi procession.

After the death of the former town priest, Simons Heins, in 1523, Johannes Bugenhagen was appointed as his successor after being suggested by Luther.

The radical break away from the Catholic teachings and forms of worship was therefore held off and Luther clearly distanced himself from the 'enthusiasts', who wanted to implement radical reforms at all costs, even if it meant resorting to violence. During this period, Luther also received extensive support from members of the "Unity of the Brethren" and the moderate Hussites, who had indeed decided to remain true to their traditions but were also open to reformatory food for thought.

Martin Luther conducted the first German Mass on 29th October 1525. He published a Protestant order of service the next year.

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Walk the Luther Trail as a digital experience - with maps, elevation profile, tour planner and all the major attractions along the route.