Monday, December 05, 2011

Roman Catholic Propaganda on Luther Invoking the Saints

Here's a clip I found from a Roman Catholic periodical called "The Manchester Illuminator and General Catholic Record" dating from 1849-1850.  I found it while working on this blog entry. There are indeed a handful of quotes from Luther affirming the invocation of the saints. Those quotes typically date pre-1521 or 1522. Typically, after that, Luther did not approve of or teach such a practice. Whoever compiled these quotes (the citations all come from very early editions of Luther's works) does not explain the purpose or intent. I can really only think of one: propaganda.

Only a few years after Luther wrote his exposition of the Magnificat (some of which is cited above), He wrote to a group of Bohemians,
“… I certainly would not call you heretics, as our sophists do, because you do not honor or call upon the mother of God or any of the saints, but cling alone to the only mediator, Jesus Christ, and are satisfied that in heaven as well as on earth each one is obligated to pray for the other. For there is nothing in the Scriptures about the intercession of dead saints, nor about honoring them and praying to them. And no one can deny that hitherto through services for these saints we have gone so far as to make pure idols out of the mother of God and the saints. We have placed more confidence in them, on account of the services and works which we have done for them, than we have placed in Christ himself, with the result that faith in Christ has perished.” [LW 36:299]


Jeanne said...

Hi James,

Just found your blog. If you really want to take on Catholicism, why not tackle the greatest Catholic Apologist, St. Francis De Sales. The Catholic Controversy is his response to the Protestant position. Why engage just anyone when you can engage a saint! You can find his book on Amazon. Have you ever read the documents of the Council of Trent? I would think that you had but am just curious.

James Swan said...


This link may help you understand why I have this blog.

As to buying a copy of de Sales, I'm going to save my money.While Luther is mentioned and analyzed, the book itself has those awful Calvinists in view:

"But the fact is that St. Francis wrote these pages between the ages of 27 and 29, beginning about one year after his ordination to the priesthood. He wrote them during a seemingly hopeless mission to win back to the Faith the 72,000 Calvinists in the Chablais (now eastern France)."

"It was these pamphlets that would be gathered together after St. Francis' death and published as Controversies, or The Catholic Controversy. They are remarkably to the point, showing a thorough grasp of the Calvinist claims, courage in standing up to them, and a keen intelligence in exposing them."

John Lollard said...


I just wanted to let you know, that I recently had a Roman Catholic friend quote Luther "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God." I knew immediately where to go to find information on the quote :)

Do you know of any English translations of the work?

In Christ,

James Swan said...

Hi John,

Yes, a translation is available:

Joel Baseley recently put out an English translation in his translation of the Festival Sermons of Martin Luther (Michigan: Mark V Publications, 2005) pp. 42-51.