On Sept. 23, Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit to the medieval town of Erfurt in eastern Germany, a town associated with Martin Luther and the Reformation. With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaching in 2017, the Pope is flying in to the German Federal State of Thuringia. In Erfurt, the state capital, he will meet with leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at the Augustinian monastery where Martin Luther entered the Mendicant order in 1505. Today, the former monastery is a spiritual hub for Protestant life in the region.
The Pope has cited the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as a chance for Roman Catholics and Lutherans to “join in a worldwide ecumenical commemoration,” with time to request “forgiveness for the injustices done to one another and for the guilt of division.” After attending prayers in the nearby pilgrimage chapel of Etzelsbach in Eichsfeld in the evening, the 84-year-old pope returns to Erfurt to celebrate Mass for the thousands that will fill the Cathedral Square (Domplatz) on the morning of Sept. 24. Born in Bavaria, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is making his third visit to his German homeland but it is the first official visit as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. For more information, visit www.visit-luther.com.