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Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, built a new church in Wittenberg and called it the All Saints Church. He then sent Staupitz, Luther’s supervisor, throughout the country to collect relics. Relics were parts of the dead bodies of saints, people considered to be holy, or things that belonged to saints. The Catholic Church taught, and still teaches, that relics can be worship
augustinain-monastery-erfurt-pixabay-freeed. For example, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is said to hold the body of the disciple Peter in a tomb right below the altar. At another church in Rome you can see what’s said to be the very sign that was nailed to Jesus’ cross, two thorns from the crown of thorns the soldiers put on His head and three pieces of His cross.

While Staupitz was away on his relic-collecting trip, he put Luther in charge of the Augustinian monasteries. Staupitz asked Luther to visit 40 of the monasteries while he was gone. So, while his superior was on a useless errand collecting “holy” relics to display in the new All Saints Church, Luther was ministering to his brother monks.

He visited the convent at Erfurth, where he lived when he first became a monk. It was at Erfurth that he had wound the clocks and scrubbed the floors after leaving his job as professor at the university. The superior monk at Erfurth was not getting along with the superior of another monastery. Luther counseled him, saying, “Bitterness is not expelled by bitterness…but sweetness is dispelled by bitterness.”[1]

At another monastery, there was a lot of arguing and unhappiness. The monks there were angry at their superior. Luther told the monk in charge that real peace isn’t the absence of disturbance. But when a person can feel joy in the midst of trouble, “he possesses the true peace.”[2]

At all the monasteries, Luther encourage the monks to live in harmony. He told them that the Bible alone shows how to be saved. This was a new teaching which the monks had never heard before. Many of them gladly accepted the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus.

Although Luther’s Bible teachings were not yet spreading in the world, the truth had come to the monasteries of Germany. And faith began to grow within the hearts of the monks as tiny plants that grow in a warm, protected place like a greenhouse. The monasteries were the nurseries of the Reformation.

[1] J.H. Merle d’Aubigne; History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century.

[2] Ibid.