Archived Sections, Lutherans in Minnesota

When does a walk become a pilgrimage?

Tracing Martin Luther’s steps from Erfurt to Rome

You know the 500th anniversary of Luther’s life and ministry is getting close when people start walking in his footsteps 500 years later. Well, that is happening, and readers can follow the last few days of the journey on the Web, and then hear the pilgrims at Augsburg College’s Founders Lectures less than two weeks after the trip is completed.
(For the record, the focal point of the Luther commemoration will be October 31, 2017, the anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses on the doors of Wittenberg Castle Church.)

Hans Wiersma, Augsburg College, spent the first four days of a 70-day trip with Sarah and Andrew Wilson, as they walked to Rome. Photo provided by Hans Wiersma

Sarah and Andrew Wilson are Lutheran ecumenists living in Strasbourg, France. She works at the Institute for Ecumenical Research, a Lutheran “think tank” dealing with the scholarly aspects of ecumenism for the Lutheran World Federation; he is a Levant Foundation Fellow at the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Together (though without their son Zeke, except on weekends) they are following Luther’s 1510 trip from Erfurt to Rome, where he traveled as an Augustinian monk to offer suggested changes to the papacy. As ecumenists looking to bring attention to interfaith dialogue, it made sense to travel Luther’s path to the Vatican. Unlike Luther, the Wilsons anticipate a warm reception upon reaching Rome.

The first stage of the journey

Augsburg College professor Hans Wiersma spent the first four days of the pilgrimage with the Wilsons, walking from Erfurt to Coburg. “The pilgrimage aspect hooked me,” he told Metro Lutheran. “I like to tell stories, and this journey was bound to yield some stories.
“Erfurt has become a destination for Westerners since the fall of the wall,” explained Wiersma. “But it’s compelling to see that chapel that Luther would have worshiped and preached at, and to know the monastic residence is still there.”
As the Wilson’s have continued the trip, they have blogged daily, and have uploaded great photos, at
The Wilsons will be featured speakers November 10-11 at the 2010 Augsburg College Founders Day Reformation Lectures. The November 10 lecture, “Pomegranates, Passess, and Popes: A Kinetic Perspective on Luther’s Trip to Rome,” will be held in the Hoversten Chapel at 7 p.m. On November 11, the Wilsons will address “What Has Erfurt to Do with Rome? Ecumenism as Pilgrimage.” The lecture begins at 10 a.m., also in Hoversten. For more information, visit news-archives/2010/ 08_09_10/pilgrims.html?month=8&year=2010&day=16.

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