In 1517, Martin Luther bolted the Catholic church in the most dramatic fashion, nailing 95 reasons to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany and fleeing. Among his myriad problems with the church at the time was the apparent abuse of naming and invoking saints. Too often, Luther believed, too many saints were detached from the moorings of Christ’s example. Too often, saints were named and invoked for specific earthly favors, not to meditate on God’s message. He also despised the sale of relics and indulgences, rightly believing that any rational Christian would be appalled by such immoral practices.
Luther’s split with the church sparked the Protestant Reformation and the establishment of the Lutheran faith, where there was no role for saints. A lot of those Lutherans, when they emigrated to the United States, settled in the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin.
At 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST), I suspect some Lutherans will be listening to a program produced by Wisconsin Public Radio called “Here on Earth.” I will be the guest of Host Jean Feraca (who like me has Calabrian roots) and we will be talking about saints, Catholicism, faith and doubt in the context of my book. Martin Luther may not have accepted the Catholic notion that my cousin is a saint, but I believe he would have admired the life of heroic virtue led by Padre Gaetano Catanoso in his unrelenting Christ-like service to the poor.
The show is streamed live.