It’s been a long time since I wrote about one of the great holy women or men who had an association with beer. Today a new one was brought to my attention and so I couldn’t wait to share her with you.
Of course most of us know that the great reformer and theologian Martin Luther also had a great love of beer. He once jokingly wrote that, “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” But, did you know that his favorite beer was brewed not by some monastery or town brewery but by his wife, Katharina von Bora?
Lutheran friends may already be familiar with her since her “saint” day is December 20th and thus is fast approaching. A little quick research revealed that she was in fact an incredible woman who well deserves to be more broadly known and admired. Katharina became a nun early. After becoming enamored of the Reform movement and fleeing the convent, she turned down a number of other suitors before surprising everyone and marrying the older Luther.
The Luthers lived in the Black Cloister, the former home of the Augustinian monks in Wittenberg. Katharina supported her family by gardening, making wine, raising livestock, and through use of the monastery’s right to brew, made some mean beer. She was a force to be reckoned with rising at 4 am in the summer and 5 am in the winter to oversee the workings of their large home and farm. Luther and Katharina had six children and adopted eleven more. At any given time, university students, refugees and homeless relatives lived with them.
Katharina’s prowess was not lost on Luther who showed her great respect. He is reputed to have said, “In domestic affairs, I defer to Katie. Otherwise I am led by the Holy Ghost.” and, “At home I have good wine and beer and a beautiful wife, or (shall I say) lord.”
Katharina’s importance has not been entirely overlooked. She has graced a postage stamp and had Danish brewery name a beer in her honor. So, please join me in raising a pint or, more appropriately, ein maß (mass), to Katharina von Bora. Prost!