Today In Lutheran History

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friedrich myconiusFriedrich Myconius, a church reformer and friend of Martin Luther, died in Gotha on April 7, 1546.  Myconius’ schooling was in Lichtenfels and at Annaberg, where he had a memorable encounter with the Dominican, Johann Tetzel, his point being that indulgences should be given pauperibus gratis. His teacher, Andreas Staffelstein, persuaded him to enter the Franciscan cloister. That same night a pictorial dream turned his thoughts towards the religious standpoint which he subsequently reached as a Lutheran. From Annaberg he passed to Franciscan communities at Leipzig and Weimar, where he was ordained priest; he had endeavored to satisfy his mind with scholastic divinity, but next year his “eyes and ears were opened” by the theses of Martin Luther, whom he met when Luther touched at Weimar on his way to Augsburg. For six years he preached his new gospel, under difficulties, in various seats of his order, lastly at Zwickau, from where he was called to Gotha by Duke John at the general desire. He was intimately connected with the general progress of the reforming movement, and was especially in the confidence of Luther. At the Convention of Smalkald (1537) he signed the articles on his own behalf and that of his friend Justus Menius. In 1538 he was in England, as theologian to the embassy which hoped to induce Henry VIII on the basis of the Augsburg Confession, to make common cause with the Lutheran reformation; a project which Myconius caustically observed might have prospered on condition that Henry was allowed to be pope. Not the least important part of his permanent work in Gotha was the founding and endowment of its gymnasium. In 1541 his health was failing, but he lived until the 7th of April 1546.