500 Year Anniversary of the Reformation

In Wittenberg Germany on 10 December 1520 St. Martin Luther burns the pope's bull and forever ended popery's stranglehold over Northern Europe.

Wittenberg 10 December 1520, St. Martin Luther burns the pope’s bull.

This year is the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. Here are a few important dates to remember:

1510-1511: Martin Luther visits Rome and is shocked by the level of hypocrisy and wickedness he finds there.

1516: Erasmus puts out a restored Greek text of the New Testament.

October 3, 1517: Martin Luther (34 years old) nails a challenge of 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral, primarily against abusive dispensation selling by the Roman Catholic church to pay for the construction of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

1518: Zwingli in Zurich persuades the city to join the Reformation by expelling the Pope’s indulgence sellers.

1519: Summer – Marin Luther’s debate in Leipzig against Catholic theologian John Eck.

Remainder of 1519 – Martin Luther pens 16 minor treatises on Roman Catholic abuses.

1520:  May – In reply to a polemic against him, Luther writes a call for the local authorities to take the appointment of local bishopricks away from Rome.

June – In preface to one of his treatises Martin Luther writes,

And now farewell, unhappy, hopeless, blasphemous Rome! The wrath of God has come on you in the end, as you deserved, and not for the many prayers which are made on your behalf, but because you have chosen to grow more evil from day to day! We have cared for Babylon and she is not healed. Let us then leave her that she may be the habitation of dragons, spectres, ghosts, and witches, and true to her name of Babel, and everlasting confusion, and idol of avarice, perfidy, apostasy, or cynics, lechers, robbers, sorcerers, and endless other impudent monsters, a new pantheon of wickedness.

June 15 – Pope Leo X issues a papal bull demanding Luther recant or be declared a heretic.

August – Martin Luther writes, “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation

October – Martin Luther writes, “Babylonian Captivity of the Church

November – Martin Luther writes, “The Freedom of a Christian

December 10, at 9 a.m., in Wittenburg, at the eastern gate near the Church of the Holy Cross, Martin Luther publicly burns the pope’s bull, the canon law, and other books supporting the pope.

1521: January 3 – Rome announces that Martin Luther has been excommunicated.

April 18 – The Diet in Worms convened by emperor Charles V orders Martin Luther to recant, Luther replies “Here I stand.” Day later he escapes with help of Frederick the Wise of Saxony into hiding at Wartburg castle.

Luther completes a New Testament translation into German using Erasmus’ Greek.

King Henry VIII of England writes “The Golden Book” in an attempt to refute Martin Luther. (Henry VII is later excommunicated for divorce in 1533 and changes his mind about protestantism).

1522:  Luther returns to Wittenberg, begins to hold church services in the German language (instead of Latin). September – Luther publishes the New Testament in German.

Zwingli calls on Bishop of Constance to let priests marry.

1523:  January 19 – Zwingli publishes 67 Articles in Zurich against authority of Rome and ‘transubstantiation’

July 1 – Inquisition commences in Netherlands and 2 followers of Martin Luther are burned alive in Brussels by the Roman Catholic inquisition. Names of these first two Lutheran martyrs are Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes.

1525: May – Uprising of German peasants led by radical Baptist Muntzer is brutally put down by the Landgrave of Hesse who is supported by Luther. William Tyndale completes the New Testament in English.

Some additional timelines with notable Reformation dates and events: