Katherina Von Bora


Name of Person: Katherina Von Bora

Born: January 29, 1499

Died: December 20, 1552


A simple life, following the word of the Lord, was all this homely little girl, who grew up to be become a nun, knew in life until she met and married one of history’s most influential religious figures, Martin Luther. She came from a small town of Lippendorf in the district of Meissen. Her father, Hans Von Bora was a nobleman of little means. She had three brothers that lived out their lives in a very meager existence and ignored their sister until she became Frau Doktor Luther. There is nothing written about her one and only sister, except that she was a nun at the first convent that Katherina would attend.

Shortly after Katherina was born, her mother died, leaving her to be raised by her father. When Katherina was five years old, her father was to be remarried and did not wish to be burdened by his youngest daughter. Hans dropped Katherina off at the Benedictine convent at Brehna. Katherina adjusted to her life at the convent quickly and began a very strict and disciplined life in the convent. Her day was made up of studying scriptures and a variety of chores that included cleaning and work in their extensive garden. She lived here at this convent until she was nine years old, when her father moved her to the Cistercian convent of Nimbschen near Grimma.

The Cistercian Convent was a much older and stricter cloister. The abbess ruled the nuns and residents of her cloister with an iron fist. Katherina was not allowed to speak with any one or to become friends with any of the nuns or residents. In order to speak to her sister in the same cloister, they would be in a partitioned room, with no physical touch, supervised directly by the abbess. During these years she learned to read and write in German and Latin. This was required because at the time the Bible was written in Latin.

Katherina, now age sixteen, had lived in a cloister most of her life and had little or no knowledge of the outside world. Her life was totally encompassed by God and the convent. That is why at this time she vowed herself to the church and became a nun. This was not an idea that made Katherina extremely happy but would be the best way for her to survive. Katherina was a rather ugly girl by the standards of the day and having been shut up in a convent her entire life, there were no prospective suitors coming to sweep her off her feet.

Nuns had different ideas of their time in the convent. Some believed it to be a domicile away from the possibility of being married to an abusive husband and the domestic slavery that came with it; Others believed it to be a form of prison with the threat of death as the penalty for attempting to escape. Katherina lived as a nun in the Cistercian Convent for six years, when at some point she came into possession of one of Martin Luther's essays or songs. It is not clear of what put a sudden desire into nine nuns of the Cistercian Convent to make a plea to Martin Luther for his assistance in escaping from the convent. Martin Luther agreed to assist these ladies in distress, and asked his friend Leonard Koppe in Torgau to rescue the nine nuns. Leonard and an assistant went to the Cistercian Convent the night before Easter in 1523, and with great peril, made a daring rescue of the nine nuns, including Katherina, safely delivering them to Martin Luther's monastery.

Martin Luther was now left with the responsibility of getting these nine nuns either married or settled into society in a respectful fashion. This was not an easy chore, because these nuns were either too old to be married or so unsightly that no man wanted them. Martin Luther did a fine job of settling these girls into society. Katherina was being courted by a young man named Baumgartner from Nuremberg. Baumgartner was the son of a patrician in Nuremberg, and his father had different plans for his son and sent him away