New Year: Leipzig celebrates the Reformation Anniversary 2017

Leipzig celebrates the Reformation Anniversary 2017

Leipzig celebrates the Reformation Anniversary 2017

A Kirchentag on the Way and a wealth of special exhibitions retracing the footsteps of Luther and Bach

The Leipzig Region is ready to celebrate the “500 Years of the Reformation” anniversary in 2017, with a wide-ranging programme of exciting events. Leipzig is the largest city in the Luther heartland of Central Germany. The German centre of book printing and publishing played a key role in the distribution of Martin Luther’s writings and the Leipzig Disputation sealed the final break with the Roman Catholic Church. The Saxon town of Torgau, 50 km north-east of Leipzig, may not be as well-known as Wittenberg in connection with Martin Luther but played a crucial role in the Reformation and served as its political centre.

The new brochure titled “Leipzig – In the Footsteps of Luther und Bach” and website at do not only provide information about the most important Leipzig sites related to Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach’s religious works in the spirit of the Reformation, but also include a preview of events and numerous  special exhibitions that will be held in Leipzig’s museums throughout the anniversary year of 2017.

Kirchentag on the Way”

To celebrate the German Evangelical Kirchentag congress in Wittenberg and Berlin from the 24th to the 28th of May 2017, eight cities in Central Germany will be hosting “Kirchentag on the Way” events. In Leipzig, the slogan will be “Sound of Leipzig: Music. Debate. Life.” Kicking off with an open-air ecumenical Ascension Day service, each day will feature a range of cultural, musical, diaconal and tourist events for young and old, locals and visitors alike. These will include unique compositions such as the “Pub Discussions” series, a spiritual exploration of Leipzig’s waterways and a recreation of the Leipzig Disputation. Protestant music will be played across the city with performances from university orchestras, the St. Thomas Boys Choir and thousands of wind instrument musicians.

Leipzig’s largest music festival, Leipzig Bachfest from the 9th to the 18th of June 2017, will also focus on the anniversary with the slogan “A beautiful new song – Reformation and music“, while the Leipzig Bach Museum will host two themed gallery exhibitions: “Worlds of Belief” (27/01/2017 to 25/06/2017) and “Bach and Luther” (08/09/2017 to 28/01/2018).

Another highlight of the Reformation celebrations is the so-called “Katharina Day” in Torgau from the 24th -25th of June 2017. It commemorates Katharina von Bora, the exceptional woman at Martin Luther’s side, with a diverse Renaissance and Middle Age festival.  A pottery and crafts market, a dance night with the Torgau Renaissance Dance Group, special tours for children, concerts and panel discussions are on the programme.

New permanent exhibition on the Reformation in Torgau

The wealth of special exhibitions in Leipzig alone shows the far-reaching influences of Luther’s theses, right up to the present day. Visitors to the German Museum of Books and Writing will be able to explore Luther’s linguistic genius and the history of the pamphlet. They will also be able to gain an insight into the key milestones of the Reformation at the “Luther in Dispute. Leipzig and the Consequences” exhibition at the Leipzig Museum of City History (12/04/2017 to 28/01/2018).
Finally a new permanent exhibition entitled “Torgau – Residence of the Reformation” is expected to move into Hartenfels Castle in May 2017. It will showcase Torgau’s importance as a major residence of the Saxon prince-electors in the 16th and early 17th century with exhibits from the State Art Collections Dresden.

Leipzig’s Reformation Ambassador

An American pastor from Leipzig’s sister city Houston, Reverend Dr. Robert Moore, has made it his mission to raise awareness of Leipzig’s role in the Reformation in the US. He has taken on the role of Reformation Ambassador to Leipzig and Wittenberg by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). His appointment will last until the 500th anniversary of the Leipzig Disputation in 2019. Moore’s aim is to promote Leipzig during the “500 Years of the Reformation” celebrations. His role will also involve welcoming American tourist groups in Leipzig and acting as a point of contact for them throughout their stays. The “Reformation Ambassador” project is supported by a number of partners including the City of Leipzig, the Bach Archive Foundation Leipzig, the St. Thomas Canons Foundation, Leipzig Tourism and Marketing and the parish of St. Thomas Church.
Leipzig celebrates the Reformation Anniversary 2017, Graffiti Goose

The historic importance of Saxony for the Reformation

As early as the 15th and 16th century, Leipzig was of huge importance to spiritual and economic life in the Electorate of Saxony. Martin Luther travelled the 100 km distance from Wittenberg to Leipzig many times – sometimes even on foot. The most important of these trips was his appearance at the Leipzig Disputation at Pleissenburg Castle in summer 1519, where the New City Hall now stands. His debate with the Catholic theologian, Johannes Eck, became a turning point for both Luther himself and the Reformation movement – it eventually led to the Lutherans splitting from the Catholic Church.

Torgau, the former political centre of the Reformation, had developed economic strength and a strong middle class and therefore provided a fertile ground for Luther’s ideas. Luther was able to write, preach and promote his reformist ideas there. Many of his friends and protectors, like the Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise, were either born in Torgau or held strong ties with the place. They defended Luther at the Reichstag in Augsburg and shielded the printing of the translated bible in Wittenberg. Torgau was also the first town to have a baptism as well as Protestant sermons held in German. Its Protestant church building, the Palace Chapel, was the first to be developed according to Luther’s ideas and consecrated by Luther himself in 1544.

Today visitors can follow the Luther Trail in Saxony. This spiritual walking trail covers 550 kilometres of beautiful scenery and 27 sites in cities such as Torgau, Grimma, Borna and Leipzig, which all have a connection to Martin Luther and his companions.

Further information on the Reformation anniversary in Leipzig:

Special exhibitions in Leipzig as part of the 2017 Reformation anniversary.

German Museum of Books and Writing
“Sensation – Propaganda – Resistance: Luther, the Pamphlet and the Consequences”
01/11/2016 – 31/07/2017
“… in the language of the common people: Luther’s Linguistic Genius”
Digital exhibition, available throughout 2017

GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts
“God’s Work and Word before your Eyes. Art in the Context of the Reformation”
24/11/2016 – 01/01/2017
“Giving Space to Thoughts. Artists Design Rooms for Contemplation”
24/11/2016 – 28/05/2017

Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts
“Lucas Cranach and the Motifs of the Reformation”
01/01/2017 – 31/12/2017

Bach Museum Leipzig
“Worlds of Belief”
27/01/2017 – 25/06/2017
“Bach and Luther”
08/09/2017 – 28/01/2018

University Library Leipzig, Bibliotheca Albertina
“The Spirit of the Monasteries. Saxony’s Centres of Religious Intellect in the Middle Ages”
09/03/2017 – 18/06/2017
“The Office of the Church and Matters of Faith. Leipzig and the Challenge of the Reformation”
09/03/2017 – 18/06/2018

Leipzig City Library
“Stories in Pictures – From Single-leaf Prints to the Graphic Novel”
10/03/2017 – 10/06/2017

Leipzig Museum of City History
“Luther in Debate. Leipzig and the Consequences”
12/04/2017 – 28/01/2018

Leipzig Museum of Printing Arts
“Luther and Printing”
01/05/2017 – 30/09/2017

Leipzig University, art collection in the rectory
“Leipzig University in the Age of the Reformation”
25/05/2017 – 07/07/2017

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