Martin Luther, O.S.A. (/ˈluːθər/; German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈlʊtɐ] (About this sound listen); 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.
Luther made effective use of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press to spread his views. He switched from Latin to German in his writing to appeal to a broader audience. Between 1500 and 1530, Luther’s works represented one fifth of all materials printed in Germany.
In the 1530s and 1540s, printed images of Luther that emphasized his monumental size were crucial to the spread of Protestantism. In contrast to images of frail Catholic saints, Luther was presented as a stout man with a “double chin, strong mouth, piercing deep-set eyes, fleshy face, and squat neck.” He was shown to be physically imposing, an equal in stature to the secular German princes with whom he would join forces to spread Lutheranism. His large body also let the viewer know that he did not shun earthly pleasures like drinking—behavior that was a stark contrast to the ascetic life of the medieval religious orders. Famous images from this period include the woodcuts by Hans Brosamer (1530) and Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger (1546).
Luther is honoured on 18 February with a commemoration in the Lutheran Calendar of Saints and in the Episcopal (United States) Calendar of Saints. In the Church of England’s Calendar of Saints he is commemorated on 31 October.
Martin Luther is honored in various ways by Christian traditions coming out directly from the Protestant Reformation, i.e. Lutheranism, the Reformed tradition, and Anglicanism. Branches of Protestantism that emerged afterwards vary in their remembrance and veneration of Luther, ranging from a complete lack of a single mention of him to a commemoration almost comparable to the way Lutherans commemorate and remember his persona. There is no known condemnation of Luther by Protestants themselves.
Various sites both inside and outside Germany (supposedly) visited by Martin Luther throughout his lifetime commemorate it with local memorials. Saxony-Anhalt has two towns lawfully named after Luther, Lutherstadt Eisleben and Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Mansfeld is sometimes called Mansfeld-Lutherstadt, although the state government has not decided to put the Lutherstadt-prefix in its official name.
Reformation Day commemorates the publication of the Ninety Five Theses in 1517 by Martin Luther; it has been historically important in the following European entities. It is a civic holiday in the German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. Two further states (Lower Saxony and Bremen) are pending a vote on introducing it. Slovenia celebrates it due to the profound contribution of the Reformation to its culture. Austria allows Protestant children not to go to school that day, and Protestant workers have a right to leave work in order to participate in a church service. Switzerland celebrates the holiday on the first Sunday after 31 October. It is also celebrated elsewhere around the world.