31 October, 1517: Luther’s 95 theses

95-thess

31 October, 1517 –Martin Luther posts his Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power of Indulgences (Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum) on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, starting the Protestant Reformation

The theses  are a list of propositions for academic disputation  and  advance Luther’s positions against what he saw as abusive practices by priests  who sold indulgences. These  were certificates which would reduce the temporal punishment due to  the sins committed by the purchaser or other people in purgatory. This practice had led to the popular saying, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs”.

Two years earlier, in 1515, Pope Leo X had  granted a plenary indulgence intended to finance the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which  would apply to almost any sin, including adultery and theft.

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