My Lord Katie: Katharina von Bora Luther

Early Years

Katie Luther

Birth and Childhood

It is nearly impossible to write a biography of Katharina von Bora. Very little information is available outside of what is known about her as the wife of the reformer Dr. Martin Luther.

Katharina von Bora was born on January 29, 1499. The year has been established from a letter written by the humanist Erasmus in June of 1525 in which he reports that Luther had just married a twenty-six year-old nun.

The exact date of Katie's birth is taken from the inscription on a medal given to her by her husband and that Katharina supposedly wore around her neck. Today the only evidence of the medal is its description in the 1733 cataog of Reformation medallions and coins published by Johann Glück.

See Caption Below

Ruins of Cloister Marienthron at Nimbschen
Katharina von Bora made her vows at the cloister in 1515

Parents

Katharina's father was named Hans von Bora. Her mother was Katharina Haubitz or Haugwitz. They were impoverished nobility, meaning they had a title but little to go with it. However, they did own land.

Katharina came into the world at the von Bora's Lippendorf estate located south of Leipzig. There were also three brothers and a sister. The eldest son was most certainly named Hans, after the father. The second son is believed to have been named Clemens. The third brother's name is unknown. However, upon his brother's death in 1542 the Luthers took his son, their nephew, Fabian, into their home. It seems that there was also a sister named Maria.

In 1505 Katharina's mother died. That same year Hans remarried. This second wife was named Margarethe.

Nunnery

Upon her mother's death in 1504, Katharina was placed in the Benedictine cloister located in Brena near Bitterfeld. She was five years old. She was to be educated, but not necessarily become a nun. However, five years later she was transferred to the cloister Marienthron (Mary's Throne) at Nimbschen by Grimma to live as a nun. There she was to live with other daughters of nobility, and particularly, with her aunt, Magdalena von Bora.

By 1515 she took her vows. She was sixteen years old. At the Nimbschen cloister she received the education for a teacher, including some Latin.