Reformation Month: Day 13

31 Days, 31 Books

My copy of Kitty, My Rib is probably just as old as the one in this picture.

Kitty, My Rib is a historical novel based on the life of Martin Luther’s wife, Katherine Von Bora.  Luther’s life story would have been quite amazing had he remained single.  He was single for years because he was a monk.  After the break with the Roman Church became an accomplished fact, former priests and nuns were marrying.  Luther supported such marriages, but ruled himself out.  He was incredibly busy.  His life was in constant danger.  He was an older man, and he was a slob.  He never changed the bed he slept in.  It is easy to imagine him coming in from a day of preaching, teaching, writing, dining on sausage and beer with some of the young theology students, writing letters here and there, and then plopping in bed, and snoring away through the night.

Katherine Von Bora was a nun.  She and some of her sister nuns were sneaked out of the convent in barrels.  It was the task of Luther to find suitable lodgings, jobs, or marriages for these newly dependent women in the churches.  Katherine was a hard case.  The unexpected happened.   The former priest and the former nun married.

She was truly Luther’s rib, his helpmeet, his support.  She was practical where he was dreamy.  She had a firm steady faith at those times when he was up and down emotionally and mentally.  And she managed the household.  Martin and Katherine had six children.  They also took in 4 orphan children.  They also nearly always had a house full of guests.  One of Luther’s colleagues showed up on their wedding night looking for a place to stay.  Luther refused money from guests who offered to pay.  Katherine would then go to them and say, “Thanks.  We do need money.”

The marriage of Martin and Katherine (Kitty) is an amazing story and testimony.  By the nature of historical documents, Katherine Von Bora’s biography is scant.  A little historical imagination is needed.  It was many years ago when I read Kitty, My Rib, but I am glad to see that it is still in print.  It is a fun and a soul-delighting read.

Katherine Von Bora, the woman who became Frau (Mrs.) Martin Luther.

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