Life after the death of Martin had not been easy for Katie. Friends claiming to look out for her family tried to take her sons away from her. Wars and the plague had made her flee from her home at the Black Cloister more than once. Soldiers had destroyed the crops and buildings on her farm and butchered livestock. But through all of this she persevered by rebuilding, and continuing to take in University students who needed room and board.
In the summer of 1552, the plague was making its way through Wittenberg. Katie determined to stay in the Black Cloister as long as possible. Finally, in September, the plague came to her house. Hans was at school in Königsberg and Martin may have been studying in Wittenberg. Katie boarded a carriage with Paul and Margaretha and headed out. Along the way, something startled the horses and they shied. Katie attempted to jump from the carriage to settle the horses and thereby protect her children. Jumping from a wildly moving carriage is not easy and she fell, landing hard and ending up in a ditch full of water.
Paul and Margaretha managed to get their mother to Torgau. The fall and any injuries she received from it, along with shock and the chill of the cold water, lead to paralysis. Katie lay in bed for three months with Margaretha attending her. Paul brought her happy news when he announced his marriage to Anna von Warbeck.
In her last days, Katie frequently entrusted her children to God’s care and the faith her husband had fought so hard for. Finally, the injuries and accompanying illness became too much and Katie died. Legend claims that as she lay dying, she was asked about her faith. She replied that she want to “cling to Christ as a burr to a dress”. It is most likely that Katie never said these words, but whether she actually spoke these words or not is unclear but they clearly do express the faith she held to in her life and into her death.
The photo is of the house where Katie died in Torgau and is from kleio.org
-Rebecca DeGarmeaux (on FB)
The Day Katie Luther Died