Nearly 500 years after a Roman Catholic priest named Martin Luther famously broke with the Vatican by nailing a list of grievances to a German cathedral door, Catholicism's headquarters city will honor Luther with a square named for him.
"Piazza Martin Lutero" will be dedicated Sept. 16. It's located on the Oppian Hill, along Fortunato Mizzi Avenue, about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) from the entrance to Vatican City.
The move comes about five centuries after Luther, then an Augustinian monk, visited Rome to bring a complaint to the Pope. The evangelical website Riforma.it (original in Italian) states biographers differ on whether Luther was affected by the corruption he found in the Eternal City. But by the time he posted his "95 Theses" in 1517, he was clearly no fan of the Papal system.
In a letter to Pope Leo X, who ultimately excommunicated Luther, the reformer wrote, "The Church of Rome, formerly the most holy of all Churches, has become the most lawless den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the very kingdom of sin, death, and hell; so that not even antichrist, if he were to come, could devise any addition to its wickedness."
It would appear that in the case of Luther, time has indeed healed all — or almost all — wounds. Vatican press office deputy director the Rev. Ciro Benedettini told Religion News Service the designation is "a decision taken by Rome city hall which is favorable to Catholics in that it’s in line with the path of dialogue started with the ecumenical council," which referred to a gathering of churchmen to rule on faith matters.