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  • Jeffrey Goodman

Tetzel's Jüterbog

Social media has its negatives and its positives. Somedays more than the other. This is a good one: on social media, I follow Stiftung KIBA which is a German organization that helps congregations care for their ancient buildings. Each month they recognize a historic church that could use help with a new roof or whatever. For the month of October, the church is St. Nikolai Kirche in Jüterbog. This church is significant and yet I had never heard of it. It is significant because it was in 1517 that Dominican Friar Johann Tetzel was selling indulgences in order to help fund the new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in the small town of Jüterbog, where St. Nikolai is located. His famous, or rather infamous slogan was “A coin in the coffer rings and a soul from purgatory springs.” He was preaching this stuff in Jüterbog near or at St. Nikolai which was built in 1488. Jüterbog was nearby to Wittenberg. Prince Frederick had not permitted indulgence selling in his realm. Consequently, a number of Wittenbergers made their way to Jüterbog in order to purchase the certificates and then came back. One of them or more showed their certificate to an Augustinian friar named Martin Luther. Luther was a professor at the University there and upon his installation had vowed to defend the Faith and God’s Word. It was from this that Luther proposed his 95 Thesis for debate in the church.


Today St. Nikolai still has Tetzel’s coffer on display!



It’s a beautiful church that belongs to the EKBO (Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz- Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia) which is a “union” church of Reformed, Lutheran and United confessions. This was once a Lutheran Church until the 19th century and the forced union of Reformed and Lutheran Churches.




I hope to visit one day.

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