Poste Vaticane – Commemorative stamping to honor Martin Luther

Yesterday I heard that the Vatican Post was to issue a commemorative stamp honoring Martin Luther.  HERE

To honor someone who so publicly ripped asunder the fabric of Christendom is appalling.  Who’s next?  Judas Iscariot?

This is like:

  • Augustus Caesar minting coins honoring Marcus Iunius Brutus
  • Sparta founding a momument for Ephialtes
  • West Point renaming a building for Benedict Arnold
  • Norway designating a national holiday for Vikdun Quisling
  • The FBI creating a plaque for the Rosenburgs

I want a special commemorative stamp of Leo X, who excommunicated Luther.  His tomb is in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.  The next time I’m in Rome, I’ll bring flowers for his grave.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Benedict Joseph says:

    How much longer to the unanimous Bergoglian canonization?

  2. Tom A. says:

    Fr Z., I am sorry but your reaction seems to make light of this issue. Francis continues to tear down the Church on a daily basis. And this is the best indignation you can muster?

    [You must not know the cases I mention above. Google their names. Start with “Judas Iscariot”.]

  3. anilwang says:

    While I share the general disgust we all feel at this choice, such a choice is not unheard of.

    Go look at the TIME “Person of the Year” for 1938, 1939, 1942, and 1957. None of the choices were exemplars of virtue. In fact they were chosen precisely because they were infamous and had such a large negative effect on the world. [False analogy. TIME has different reasons for naming POTY.]

    So I’d be less worried bout the Luther stamp and more worried about how if it’s portrayed. If it comes with the caption “A tree is known by its fruit: 30000 denominations of confusion” or “Join me in the 9th circle of Hell” or “Judas was my inspiration” or even one of Luther’s own quote like “My doctrine cannot be judged by anyone, even by the angels.” I’d be fine it it.

    Given the current papacy I’m not holding out a lot of hope that it’ll have the right caption.

  4. iPadre says:

    They should issue one for Hitlar and another for Stalin. What they did was led by their conscience. And who are we to judge?

  5. Gus Barbarigo says:

    I was wondering if the earthquakes in Italy over the last day or so had a connection to more antics from Papa Bergoglio; then I hear about this.

  6. rhhenry says:

    Like the Vatican inviting Paul Ehrlich to a conference. Oh, wait . . .

  7. rcg says:

    What if the stamp was an image of his back and the caption “Good Riddance”? Maybe a line of slow closing screen doors called “The Martin”.

  8. MrsMacD says:

    @Tom A. Good grief how could we survive the smuck coming out of Rome if we didn’t have a sense of humour? Pope Francis can’t tear down the Church. Christ has guaranteed it! Pope Francis can however go to Hell and take a good deal of souls with him. He needs our prayers. Don’t give in to discouragement!! God has ordained that you would be born in a war zone, pick up your rosary and fight!

  9. I’m in the twilight zone.

    No, this is like the prodigal dancing on his father’s grave.

    I cannot bear this, really. We have to pray amd fast. Mea culpa!!!

  10. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Bing for emma bonino pope francis.

    A Pope who can call an abortionist [10,000+ babies) “one of Italy’s forgotten greats” should be expected to say or do anything. ANYTHING.

  11. TimG says:

    Pope Francis clearly wants to redefine Catholic as anyone Christian. The tent will be made large enough to include everyone ….

  12. Poor Yorek says:

    Like The National Catholic Distorter (aka “Fishwrap” around these parts) printing a special issue in support of awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature to Benedict XVI for Summorum Pontificum .

  13. yatzer says:

    I saw that headline elsewhere and thought it something from the Onion or EOTT. How disheartening to find that it is for real! Luther on a Vatican stamp; how could this be?

  14. Huber says:

    This year is also the 500th anniversary of the cardinalate of Cardinal Cajetan.

    It was Cardinal Cajetan that defended the papacy against Luther by showing biblically that Our Lord giving the keys to Peter in Matthew 16:18 was mirrored in the old testament from Isaiah 22:20 where keys were used as a symbol of authority to be handed down in a line of succession.

    Heretics may celebrate Luther, I myself will pray to Cardinal Cajetan for intercession for correction of the many errors in the Church today.

    Cardinal Cajetan, pray for us.

  15. tcreek says:

    On the Jews and Their Lies by Martin Luther, 1543

    In the first ten sections of the treatise, Luther expounds, at considerable length, upon his views concerning Jews and Judaism and how these compare to Christians and Christianity. Following the exposition, Section XI of the treatise advises Christians to carry out seven remedial actions. These are:
    1. to burn down Jewish synagogues and schools and warn people against them;
    2. to refuse to let Jews own houses among Christians;
    3. for Jewish religious writings to be taken away;
    4. for rabbis to be forbidden to preach;
    5. to offer no protection to Jews on highways;
    6. for usury to be prohibited and for all silver and gold to be removed, put aside for safekeeping and given back to Jews who truly convert; and
    7. to give young, strong Jews flail, axe, spade, spindle, and let them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow.
    The excerpts below are from Martin Luther’s book titled “Table Talk” (Tischredenin German) a collection of Martin Luther’s sayings. .

    CCCCXXVI. – Antichrist is the pope and the Turk (Muslims) together; a beast full of life must have a body and soul; the spirit or soul of antichrist is the pope, his flesh or body the Turk.

    CCCCLVII. – If the pope were the head of the Christian church, then the church were a monster with two heads, seeing that St Paul says that Christ is her head. The pope may well be, and is, the head of the false church.

    CCCCLIX. – There are many that think I am too fierce against popedom; on the contrary, I complain that I am, alas! too mild; I wish I could breathe out lightning against pope and popedom, and that every word were a thunderbolt.

    CCCCLXXXVIII. – The state of celibacy is great hypocrisy and wickedness. Augustine, though he lived in a good and acceptable time, was deceived through the exaltation of nuns. … (Luther married a nun. They had 6 children)

    CCCCLXXXIX. – The covetousness of the pope has exceeded all others, for the devil made choice of Rome as his peculiar habitation. The ancients said: Rome is a den of covetousness, a root of all wickedness.

    DVIII. – The canon of the mass is pieced and patched up out of many lies. …

    DXXXV. – (Saint) Jerome should not be numbered among the teachers of the church, for he was a heretic; … He speaks not of Christ, but merely carries his name in his mouth.

    A very small selection of Luther’s sayings, but you get the idea.

  16. Mike H says:

    “Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. ” Papal Bull – Exsurge Domine 1520

  17. VexillaRegis says:

    What?? You just can’t honour an ardus antisemit!
    From the Wikipedia:” Evolution of his views[edit]
    Luther’s attitude toward the Jews changed over the course of his life. In the early phase of his career—until around 1536—he expressed concern for their plight in Europe and was enthusiastic at the prospect of converting them to Christianity through his religious reforms. Being unsuccessful in that, in his later career, Luther denounced the Jewish people and urged for their harsh persecution and destruction. In a paragraph from his On the Jews and Their Lies he deplores Christendom’s failure to expel them.[1] Moreover, he proposed “What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews”:[1]
    “First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians …”
    “Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”
    “Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.”
    “Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb …”
    “Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside …”
    “Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them …”
    “Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow … But if we are afraid that they might harm us or our wives, children, servants, cattle, etc., … then let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., … then eject them forever from the country …””

    Hitler inherited Luther’s ideas and carried them through. Shame on the Vatican!

  18. Ave Crux says:

    Why are we surprised? Pope Francis holds clearly Lutheran moral and theological positions and wishes to impose them by force of will on the entire Catholic Church, most of whom have long since abandoned the Faith in its entirety anyway.

    The stamp simply and clearly confirms Pope Francis’s position.

    This needs to be recognized, said and resisted for the sake of our own faith and salvation, lest we be pulled into the vortex of error which he is creating at the very heart of the Church.

    At this point I feel absolutely helpless and wonder when God will intervene.

  19. tcreek,
    Who can even read such things he wrote about the Holy and Divine Liturgy, the Mass, our holy patron saints, our Mother the Church without wanting to gouge their own eyes out?

    And this is supposedly a small thing, to commemorate a heretic.

  20. HobokenZephyr says:

    In re: Benedict Arnold, West Point could have a building named after his boot like they do with the monument at Saratoga.

  21. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:


  22. Cosmos says:


    Luther is a hero of modernity. He stuck it to the Catholic Church pretty good back in the day, and they deserved it. Everyone important, enlightened, and awesome knows this. So if you want to be important, enlightened, and awesome–Catholic or not–you’d better get on-board. It’s a small price for being beloved by the World.

    It follows that, like Margaret Sanger, Martin Luther probably didn’t do the awful things we know for a fact that he did do. If you keep insisting that he did, we’ll just have to treat you as if you are mentally imbalanced.

  23. Y2Y says:

    A postage stamp in honour of Judas Iscariot? As the successor thereof, it would be entirely appropriate for Bergoglio to issue a postage stamp in his honour.

  24. frmgcmma says:

    A stamp from the Vatican commemorating the man who said: “I die with hatred of the Pope.”

    What exactly is being commemorated?

  25. iamlucky13 says:

    Sounds like somebody with an imbalanced sense of ecumenism.

    Acting respectfully towards other religions for the sake of dialog that will hopefully lead them ultimately to the Church is one thing. Participating in the celebrations of other religions is another. Somehow people miss this distinction.

    Of course, Luther himself was not even remotely ecumenical. It’s shocking to really think about the magnitude of division he started Christianity on the path toward.

    At least such a trivial act as releasing a stamp can’t generate nearly as much confusion as some other things going lately, but if anybody does find somebody arguing the release of this stamp means the Catholic Church no longer believes in indulgences and has embraced sola scriptura, I can’t say I will be entirely surprised.

  26. a catechist says:

    Luther? And I’m supposed to lick his backside?

    (God have mercy on the soul of Sir Terry Pratchett, from whom I stole this joke.)

  27. Elizabeth M says:

    Yes Gus, the earthquakes are a sign – San Gennaro gave us his warning.

    Father, when you do visit the tomb of Leo X please let us know if you will be accepting donations for the flowers. Let the roses be so heavy that many people have to help you place them!

  28. SenexCalvus says:

    If I thought I had even a snowflake’s chance in, well, THE PLACE NO ONE COULD POSSIBLY CHOOSE FOR HIMSELF EVEN IF HE WERE OTHERWISE FREE of proving that 2+2 can’t equal anything but 4, I might weigh in on this topic.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I’m no philatelist, but it seems that the Vatican did issue a Leo X stamp four years ago – I cannot, however, find any evidence that they have issued Adrian VI or Desiderius Erasmus stamps – or, for that matter, a Cardinal Cajetan one: a series with all four might by a bit of counterbalance, at least.

    Or is a series respectfully devoid of depictions but bearing Arabic calligraphy a more likely sequel?

  30. Grant M says:

    When you read the things Luther said you understand why many Protestants themselves prefer to keep him in the background, save for a few innocuous quotes, such as “We cannot stop the birds from flying overhead, but we can stop them from nesting in our hair.” The Evangelical Anglican church to which I used to belong professed great admiration for the “Reformers”, but in actual practice, took its inspiration, (after the Bible) more from John Wesley, CS Lewis, Billy Graham and Mother Theresa. As Chesterton pointed out, the average Protestant these days would not touch 16th century
    Protestantism with a barge pole.

  31. PTK_70 says:

    Allow me to proffer an alternative view….

    When news of Lee’s surrender to Grant reached Lincoln, the president had the band strike up the song Dixie from the second floor balcony of the White House. Why would he do that? Because inasmuch as the rebellion was effectively dead and the union secure, that which belonged to the southern states now assuredly belonged to all.

    If Lutheranism posed a real threat today to the Church, I’d be more concerned about this stamp. But Lutheranism is dead. Even someone as clever and funny as the Lutheran satire guy can’t save it. We (read: Catholics) decide what to keep and what to discard from Luther’s body of writings. And if we put him on a stamp, that’s because 500 years later, we’re still standing. We are the ones making sense of the past.

  32. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Speaking as a Catholic who was raised Lutheran, this is as crazy as having a parish fundraiser at a brothel.

    On the other hand, it is less than 0.000000001% as crazy as pretending that open practice of homosexuality has any place in a civilized society.

  33. robtbrown says:

    How about a Vatican stamp with Abp Lefebvre? Or the last tsar?

  34. acardnal says:

    I hope the Luther stamp is one you have to lick. Maybe they can make it taste nasty.

  35. Imrahil says:

    I was rather outraged, or would have been outraged had it not taken a bit more of a “oh no what they’re doing now, again” sighing form.

    That said, what the dear PTK_70 said is worth pondering.

    In the same vein, Franz Josef Strauß said: “If need be, we Bavarians must be the last Prussians”. If need be, all that is worthy to be preserved out of Lutheran culture must be preserved by Catholics – not necessarily because it would enrich Catholic culture so much (though the Lutheran folk-song hymn style has already done so, I believe), but because if we don’t, who else would. The Church has always been the preserver of those good things in the world such as have no other defender – however unimportant they might have been for her main Mission. (That’s why it’s defending local customs, local dialects, village life and so on so much, by the way.)

    And for all the bad things they did – if they’d gone over home to Rome with flying flags, it would be the ideal; but their decay in the way it does happen is still worthy of pity. A heretic movement of worthy Christians sincere in their aims, however heretic, should convert to Roman Catholicism; but second best is probably, stay as it is; what they in any case haven’t deserved is to decay and fall into pieces the way they actually do, all the more given that the movement back to the Church, in all human probability, will be marginal.

  36. bar3 says:

    It’s like Aeneas naming his ship after Agamemnon!

  37. bar3 says:

    (Although, since a ship should have a feminine name, Hera might fit this example better)

  38. robtbrown says:

    Ptk 70,

    Although attendance in Lutheran churches is down, Lutheranism is not dead.

  39. LarryW2LJ says:

    “(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday said that “the intention of Martin Luther five hundred years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her”.

    Oh …… so THAT’S what it’s called!

  40. Grant M says:

    “because it is only Christian men/guard even heathen things”.

    Chesterton predicted that it would be left to the Catholic Church to preserve the best of Protestant culture, if there were no more Protestants to do so. Bach is wonderful, and where would Bach be without Lutheranism? But the principles (heresies) of Sola fide and Sola scriptura have spread far beyond the boundaries of the Lutheran church, and will likely be with us long after there are no more Lutherans.

  41. PTK_70 says:

    I will go a step further, robtbrown, and say that not only is Lutheranism dead but so is mainline Protestantism. Dead, irrelevant, impotent, not coming back. The only “protestant” cults with any vigor, it seems to me, are fundamentalist/evangelical or Pentecostal-ish. But these don’t really identify, if you will, with the 16th century reformers.

  42. robtbrown says:

    PTK_70 says:

    I will go a step further, robtbrown, and say that not only is Lutheranism dead but so is mainline Protestantism. Dead, irrelevant, impotent, not coming back. The only “protestant” cults with any vigor, it seems to me, are fundamentalist/evangelical or Pentecostal-ish. But these don’t really identify, if you will, with the 16th century reformers.

    The notion that the Eucharist is a memorial of the Last Supper (cf. Paul VI) comes from Lutheranism.

  43. Imrahil says:

    “the intention of Martin Luther five hundred years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her”

    In a sense that’s true. Martin Luther did not wish to divide the Church and deplored the fact that the Church did not follow him in tota. His aim was not specifically schismatic; he only tolerated the schism for something he valued even higher than Church unity.

    He was a heretic; he wanted to introduce a completely new doctrine* into the Church, which according to him is the only Christian doctrine.

    So yes, what he did want the Church was to make her heretic, or as some call it, renew her.

    [* No doubt having some similarities in actual Christian doctrine of the one or the other sort, overestimating and hyperbolicizing them, but still, as it ended up, totally new. In the tradition of scholastic accolades, he was consequently called Doctor hyperbolicus; or also, Doctor Liar.]

  44. PTK_70 says:

    @robtbrown…Perhaps you can point to something specific from Bl Paul VI? I confess to being under-qualified for a detailed discussion on Luther’s view of the Eucharist and its appropriation within Catholic liturgical praxis/culture. But the fact that Bl Paul VI has entered the discussion sort of proves my first point, namely, WE are the ones sifting through the good, the bad and the ugly of the so-called Reformation. Whether that’s going well or not is outside my sphere of competence.

  45. Ivan says:

    I saw today that ML-stamp in question…
    and I must say, we all must order a few hundred of those!
    Take a look here:

  46. stephen c says:

    Father Vincent Fitzpatrick, at 18 January, 12:26 PM, said what I would have liked to say. I would rather be angry at our poor Pope than feel as sorry for him as I do – and his praise of Emma Bonino makes me profoundly sad. I hope that the cold proud things he says about abortionists are not from the heart. Perhaps the obviousness of the foolishness of his love for abortionists, as long as they agree with his proud political opinions, is merely an obvious sign to us that we need to be indulgent to the decrepitude of the elderly – God knows this world needs a sign that we should care for the old, in their poverty and loneliness and, sometimes, God help them, in their proud intellectual selfishness. God help the young people who, in the enthusiasm particular to the young, are offended when their pro-abortion views are questioned, and who are not getting good and effective guidance from the Church! As many mistakes as one can make, as a simple human being in a position of power, it is hard to think of a more tragic mistake than praising unrepentant abortionists. These are sad times.

  47. robtbrown says:

    Ptk 70,

    Pope Paul VI

    Address to a General Audience, November 19, 1969

    The Lutheran position is a consequence of not believing in Transubstantiation and the Sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.

    The Paul VI position is not found in the Catechism. Deo gratias

  48. PTK_70 says:

    @robtbrown…..Found it. If there were such a thing as a “Paul VI position,” I rather think it more fully expressed in the first sentence of paragraph 12 in the 19-Nov-69 address. I will not quote it here as the English translation I found at EWTN ( is a tangled mess. But the sense seems to be that there is some kind of unity between the Lord’s Supper and the Sacrifice on the cross and that both these are renewed and represented at the Mass. You may have access to the address in the original language, so feel free to correct me if I am not quite correct.

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