Martin Luther had been a monk for five years in 1510 when he went on a pilgrimage to Rome. He left Erfurt, Germany in October along with another monk on their long walk to Rome. It was the custom of the monks when they were on a journey to walk silently, one behind the other.
The night before they arrived in sight of the holy city, behind the hills that separated them from Rome, Luther's religious devotion rose to almost ecstatic heights. He believed thoroughly in the remission of sins that he should win at the holy places in the city of his faith. His mind was fastened on the great traditions of his fathers in Christian history.
The next day, as he came over the top of Mt. Mario, he saw spread out before him the glorious city of Rome. Overcome with joy, he fell on his knees and cried, ''Hail, Holy Rome! Luther followed his friend into the sacred city with high expectations about what he
would experience on their visit there.
They stayed in a monastery, but were shocked at the indifference and ease with which the monks went about their routine services. Luther was a real pilgrim as he anxiously and joyously sought out the great church shrines. He visited the catacombs and felt the strange influence that comes from the memories of the martyrs buried there. All his religious quest focused on his desire to be released from the fear and terror of his sin.
He visited the shrines not only for the sake of his own soul, but for the souls of his family and friends. He was even tempted to wish that his father and mother were dead, so that his prayers might release them from purgatory.
He went, as was the custom with pilgrims to Rome, to the great sacred stairs. These stairs lead to a room which contained relics of the saints. Roman tradition told Luther the steps were those up which Jesus had walked the night he appeared before Pilate. Pope Leo IV had granted an indulgence of nine years for every step and th ...
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