The New International Encyclopædia/Bora, Katharina von
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Bora, Katharina von
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BORA, Katharina von (1499-1552). The wife of Luther, daughter of Anna, of the Haugwitz family. She was born at Klein-Laussig, near Bitterfeld, Saxony, on January 29, 1499. When 10 years old, she entered the Cistercian Convent of Nimptsch or Nimbschen, near Grimma. Becoming acquainted with Luther's doctrines, she found herself very unhappy in her monastic life; and finally, along with eight other nuns, whose relatives, like her own, refused to listen to them, she fled from the convent, with the knowledge of Luther and the active assistance of Leonard Koppe, a member of the city council of Torgau on the nights of April 4 and 5, 1523. They arrived in Wittenberg on April 7. Luther took up a collection for them and wrote to their relatives, who declined to receive them. He then arranged for them to live with honorable people. Katharina became an inmate in the house of the burgomaster Reichenbach. Luther, through his friend, Nicholas von Amsdorf, minister in Wittenberg, offered her the hand of Dr. Kaspar Glaz, pastor in Orlamünde. She declined this proposal, but declared herself ready to marry Von Amsdorf, or Luther himself, who had already laid aside his monastic dress, and was living by himself in the deserted Augustinian monastery. There her marriage with Luther took place on June 13, 1525. The ceremony was performed by Bugenhagen, the city pastor, in the presence of a few friends. There was a wedding breakfast the next morning, also, with a small company; but on June 27 there was a more formal celebration of the event, to which Luther's parents, Katharina's companions in flight, and other friends of both parties, were present. In his wife Luther found an affectionate and faithful helpmeet. Six children were born to them: (1) Hans, or Johannes, born June 7, 1526; (2) Elizabeth, born December 10, 1527, died August 3, 1528; (3) Magdalena, born May 4, 1529, died October 20, 1542; (4) Martin, born November 7, 1531; (5) Paulus, born January 28, 1533; (6) Margareta, born December 17, 1534. After Luther's death the Elector of Saxony and Christian III. of Denmark contributed from time to time to Katharina's support. She was involved in the losses and disasters of the Schmalkald War, and was for a while very poor. She fled from Wittenberg to Torgau to avoid the plague, but on the way met with an accident, and sickened and died at Torgau on December 20, 1552. For her life, consult: F. G. Hofmann (Leipzig, 1845); A. Stein, pseudonym for H. Nietschmann (Halle, 1879; 3d ed., l886); A. Thoma (Berlin, 1900).