Martin Luther Hammers His 95 Theses to the Door, by Ferdinand Pauwels (c. 1830–1904)

In the scene shown above, the Belgian artist Ferdinand Pauwels (c. 1830–1904) painted what was perhaps the most significant event from the life of the German theologian and reformer, Martin Luther. The painting shows the moment when Luther hammered his Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences onto a church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Although Luther likely meant the act to be a harmless proposal of debate on the Catholic Church’s most controversial practices, the posting and subsequent printing-press-aided mass dissemination of his Ninety-five Theses became a catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

Written by C, Keith Hansley



  • Carter Lindberg. The European Reformations (Second Edition). Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts with Introductions, edited by Denis R. Janz. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008.

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