A German priest smashed a really big pumpkin 487 years ago today.
Ghosts, witches, slasher-movie mass murderers, vampires, and other Halloween freaks can't hold a flickering jack-o'-lantern to the power of the paper Martin Luther nailed to the Wittenberg church door.
Luther had spent years studying the Bible and especially St. Paul's letter to the Romans, and found a big gap between what he read and what he lived as a monk, theologian, teacher, musician, and priest in the Catholic Church, said the Rev. Susan Honn, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Casper.
Pope Leo X, whose debt-ridden church was about to build what is now St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, had begun a continental fund-raising drive in 1517 by selling lots of indulgences, pieces of paper bought by the faithful to spring their deceased relatives from Purgatory.
The Wittenberg priest deemed this "the pious defrauding of the faithful," while other Germans just called it "Roman bloodsucking," according to Luther biographer James Kittelson.
"As a result, on All Hallows Eve, Oct. 31, 1517, he nailed a document containing 95 theses (statements) that he would like to debate with church leaders," Honn said.
Debates about indulgences ensued, as did Luther's excommunication, along with persecutions, wars, hymns, and other events now known as the Reformation.
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