December 20 is the day we commemorate Luther’s wife Katie. As we march down the road to Christmas there are these little side tracks we can take and they can be interesting. Thursday was the commemoration of Adam and Eve and Saturday is the commemoration of St. Thomas the Apostle. Katie Luther is an outstanding example of God’s blessing and the concept of a helpmeet. In Katie Luther received a “helper fit for him”. Indeed much of Luther’s massive amount of productivity can be traced to fact that his wife ran the household and turned it into a well run business. Luther, inept, as the world will see it basically gave everything away. He never asked for money for his writing even though the printers were getting rich and he never asked to be paid for his preaching. What gifts came his way he usually gave away and so he became the classic Seinfeld “re-gifter”.
Perhaps the most amazing period of Luther’s marriage was the time of the plague. Many people had moved from Wittenberg to escape the plague and those who did not, for whatever reason, clustered in small groups for aid and support. Many people came to Luther’s home, called the Black Cloister. The wife of the mayor of Wittenberg herself showed up when she got sick. She died in Luther’s arms. Luther’s pastor, John Bugenhagen had moved into Luther’s home as well and his sister, pregnant, was sick and her delivery of a still born baby was traumatic and incredibly sad for everyone. Through it all Katharina served a nurse, cook, cleaning lady and all the while she herself was pregnant. What must have gone on in her mind as all this turmoil surrounded her and her family?
Anyway Katie is commemorated today, and the women that Luther referred to as his “rib” is in the annals of mercy a remarkable person.