On the 450th anniversary of his death, church and state leaders paid tribute Sunday to Martin Luther, the rebel monk who was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church for doubting the pope’s infallibility.
“He deeply influenced the history and culture of our people and achieved worldwide importance,” German President Roman Herzog said during a ceremony in the St. Petri-Pauli church, where Luther was baptized.
An earlier service was held at St. Andreas church, the site where Luther gave his last sermon a few days before his death on Feb. 18, 1546, at age 62.
Sunday’s ceremonies opened a year’s worth of planned exhibits, concerts and other events in the birthplace of the leader of the Protestant Reformation.
It was the first major Luther commemoration since the 1989 fall of communism in former East Germany.