ABSTRACT

Although born on the Vigil of the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours and given that saint's name at baptism, Luther had very little truck with his name-saint, whether during his early career as monk and theologian or in his years as the vanguard of the Reformation. Indeed, it would seem he honored Saint George more than Saint Martin. The power of Martin's name and of the iconic image of his sharing his mantle with a beggar, however, would not be ignored by Luther's followers or by his opponents. This paper examines the intersection of the image of Saint Martin with the career of the great Reformer focusing on such events as the Leipzig Debate of 1519 and examples from the polemical literature, such as Thomas Murner's The Great Lutheran Fool. Moreover, in the development of anecdotal “Luther lore” after his death we find a general rapprochement of Luther commemorations with the traditional German celebration of a carnivalesque Martinmas. If Luther largely ignored his name-saint, present day Lutheranism embraces the Bishop of Tours, as evidenced by its numerous church dedications and images of Saint Martin's Charity.

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