Elisabeth Luther died July 25th, 1528 at the age of one year. Daughter of Martin and Katharina Luther, she succumbed to the reocurrent effects of the Black Plague. “The good Lord gave me a little girl, the sweet little Elisabeth. I am happy and grateful to the Lord! Here, the plague is dead and buried,” wrote Kathrarina.
The Black Death probably originated in China and, traveling the Silk Road by fleas on the backs of rodents, it reached Europe about 1343. The pandemic, the most devastating in human history, resulted in the deaths of between 75 and 200 million people in Europe, peaking in 1347 to 1351. Nearly 200 years later, during the reoccurance of the plague, Martin Luther stayed in Wittenburg to administer to his flock and wrote a letter as a response to the pandemic. This was printed in a pamphlet, “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague,” incorporating many steps that should be taken to combat the plague.
In it Martin Luther’s personal goal: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
- Across boarders
- From China
- Fumigate, purify
- Administer medicine
- Avoid places and persons
- Don’t contaminate
Here I am, ensconsed in my cacoon as ordered by our good governor, heeding these (and more) warnings. My son calls me, concerned that I am following this “Wisdom from the past” which is, by the very definition, an attribute.
Wisdom, a legacy.