The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Bora, Katharina von

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BORA, Katharina von, wife of Luther: b. Klein-Laussig, near Bitterfeldt, Saxony, 29 Jan. 1499; d. 20 Dec. 1552. She took the veil very early in the nunnery of Nimptschen, near Grimma; but becoming imbued with Reformation doctrines, and feeling very unhappy in her situation, she applied, with eight other nuns, to Luther, whose fame had reached them. Luther gained over a citizen of Torgau, by the name of Leonard Koppe, who, in union with some other citizens, undertook to deliver the nine nuns from their convent. This was done the night after Good Friday, 4 April 1523. Luther brought them to Torgau and from thence to Wittenberg. At the same time, to anticipate the charges of his enemies, he published a letter to Koppe, in which he frankly confessed that he was the author of this enterprise and had persuaded Koppe to its execution; and he also exhorted the parents and relations of the virgins to admit them again into their houses, who, however, declined to receive them. Some of them were received by citizens of Wittenberg; others who were not yet too old Luther advised to marry. Among the latter was Katharina, whom Philip Reichenbach, at that time mayor of the city, had taken into his house. Luther proposed to her several of his friends. She declined these proposals, but declared her willingness to bestow her hand on Nicholas von Amsdorf, or on Luther himself. Luther, who in 1524 had laid aside the cowl, was not averse to matrimony, yet appears to have been led to the resolution of marrying by reason rather than by passion. His marriage (13 June 1525) gave rise to many disadvantageous rumors, some of them as shameful as they were unfounded. Three sons and three daughters were born of the union. After Luther's death Katharina removed from Wittenberg to Leipzig, where she was compelled to take boarders for her support. She afterward returned to Wittenberg and finally removed to Torgau, where she died. In the church of Torgau her tombstone is still to be seen, on which is a life-size image of her. Consult ‘Lives’ by Hofmann (1845); Kroken (1900); Stein (1879); and Thoma (1900).