Miracula Lutheri exorcizantis, das ist, wunder-werck deß teuffel-außtreibenden Martin Luthers


Miracula Lutheri exorcizantis, das ist, wunder-werck deß teuffel-außtreibenden
Martin Luthers
Johann Rempen
Printed book. 22p 18cm (8vo)
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This otherwise undated anti-Lutheran pamphlet can be placed in time through the chronogram encoded in capital letters within its printed colophon at the bottom (i.e., “MDCCVVIIIII,” or 1715), a practice that may have been a particular call sign of the contemporary religious satirist and polemicist Johann Rempen. On its surface, this attack upon the legacy of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora seems fairly undistinguished and quite belated. Luther had posted his famous “Ninety-five Theses” condemning papal indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses of the Roman Catholic Church almost two hundred years earlier. The father of the Reformation proved to be an effective touchstone of controversies, nonetheless, if also something of a proverbially beaten polemical “dead horse.” Lucas Cranach the Elder’s famous double-portrait of the recently married couple in secular dress—he a former Augustinian friar, she a former Cistercian nun—remained universally recognizable to the enemies of Luther’s Reformation for generations as the literal embodiment of earthly sin and sexual indulgence, thanks to Luther’s condemnation of clerical celibacy.

A critical sense of the earthly union of this ultimate sixteenth-century “power couple” gives way in the title page to a distinctive, satirical earthiness that visually conflates the various contents of this extremely rare sammelband of pamphlets (only a handful of extant copies are recorded). These include an account of the miraculous sprouting of the devil from Luther’s body and its exorcism, as well as apocryphal vignettes from Katharina’s life and ostensible “miracles.” The general sentiment relayed by the moveable paper flap revealing the devil hiding beneath Katharina’s skirts, and farting in the general direction of the Arch-Reformer, require no further elaboration.