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January 3, 1521: Excommunication [Rebroadcast]

Luther: In Real Time

Ligonier Ministries

Religion & Spirituality, Christianity, History

4.92K Ratings

🗓️ 12 November 2021

⏱️ 10 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Indignant with Martin Luther's defiance, Pope Leo X is preparing to exercise the full force of his authority to bring his enemy to nothing. Today, enter the pope's luxuriant chambers as he dictates an official decree.

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It's January 3rd, 1521. Vittenburg. Just before dawn, Martin Luther is summoned to the


bedside of an elderly congregation member. By the time he gets there, the man's breathing


is already labored. Kneeling down on the bare wood floor, Luther takes the man's hand


in his own. I am here, my friend. I am here. Meanwhile, in the apostolic palace of


the Vatican, Pope Leo X sits on a throne, indignant with Luther's ongoing defiance, he tries


to calm himself with some of his favorite music. Play! Dressed in a red velvet road with


a white fringe, Leo is a man in his mid-forties with a round face and heavy, lidded eyes. As


the musicians play on, Leo thinks of how quickly his life has passed. The son of Lorenzo the


magnificent. Leo had an early start in his climb toward the highest seat in the church.


Simony, the common practice of buying church offices, was the quickest way into the halls


of power, and Leo's father had paid for his son to be appointed as a pro-tenotary, a church


office that directs the canonization of saints. Leo was only eight years old when he took


the role. By the time he was 14, he was made a cardinal deacon. By 17, he was a full cardinal,


and cardinals elect future popes usually from within their own ranks. So Leo was elected


Pope in 1513 at the age of 37. At one point, he had allegedly told the Venetian ambassador.


Since God has been pleased to give us the papacy, let us enjoy it. His eyes wander from


the musicians to Raphael's fresco of the Madonna and Child hanging on the west wall of the chamber.


It is barely dry. By his side, his favourite hunting dog chewing a large bone. Leo's famously


lavish lifestyle had led to a shortage of funds for the completion of St. Peter's


Illuka. It was this shortfall that had led him to authorise the sale of new indulgences


in Germany, the indulgences that had so angered Martin Luther. At the time, Leo had said no


doubt correctly. Ah, there are many who will gladly purchase eternal life for a small


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