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Pope Leo X Threatens Luther - Exsurge Domine

Pope Leo X Threatens Luther - Exsurge Domine History Social Studies Philosophy Tragedies and Triumphs

Pope Leo X issued a Papal Bull (directive) called Exsurge Domine (in English, from Latin, "Arise O Lord") on the 15th of June, 1520. This image depicts the cover of that document.

With this official instrument, the Pope had the power to threaten Martin Luther with excommunication if he did not withdraw 41 of his 95 Theses.  The Pope also censured Luther’s writings which he had published after publicly displaying his "95 Theses" at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

The Pope's words include these (translated into English):

... 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. ... Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the ordinaries and others [ecclesiastics and regulars], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the clerics and people. 

The Pope gave Luther sixty days after Exsurge Domine became public, in Saxony and the surrounding regions, to recant. 

Luther did not give-in to this Papal directive. He didn't need the sixty days to make that decision.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5139stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 09, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 09, 2016


Media Credits

Image of Exsurge Domine, online courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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