The German-born professor of theology Martin Luther (1483-1546) had an incredible life that lead him to be one of the most prominent personae of the religious world. Not only was his life spectacular, but the heritage he left means a new faith, free of artifice and pretense. Of course, this did not leave him immune to the criticism of his contemporaries and even later, the Reformed Church had to struggle in order to gain the right to profess its faith. The strides made by this religious movement from the times of Martin Luther to being the most prominent faith in many countries is a thing we should all be in awe of.
The Reformed Church and Martin Luther himself were very often portrayed on stamps. Most notably, years such as 1983 (commemorating 500 years since the birth of Martin Luther), 1967 and 2017 (commemorating 450, and 500 years respectively since the Theses of Worms, which are considered the starting point of the Reformed Church) have proved to be very prolific. Below you can find most of the stamps related to the awesome journey of Martin Luther.
Austria issued three stamps related to the history of the Reformed Church. The first one was issued in 1967 and features an abstract design with religious insignia.
The second one, issued in 1986, features a Protestant sermon.
Last but not least, a new stamp was issued by Austrian Post in 2017, to commemorate 500 years of the Reformed Church.
It features the Holy Script in Martin Luther’s controversial translation he made between 1522 and 1534.
Brazil issued a stamp portraying Martin Luther in 2017 for the commemoration of 500 years of the Reformed Church. It is a joint issue with Germany (see below).
There are two very beautiful Bulgarian stamps issued in honor of the Reformed Church. The first one was issued in 1983, for the 500th birth anniversary of Martin Luther.
The second one, issued in 1996, commemorates 450 years since the death of Martin Luther.
Former Czechoslovakia issued a series of stamps devoted to personalities in 1983. Pictured left to right: Jaroslav Hašek, Julius Fucik, Johannes Brahms, and Martin Luther.
The Martin Luther stamp was also used to illustrate the block of stamps issued for the Nordposta exhibition in Hamburg, 1983.
I have found two Danish stamps issued in honor of the Reformed Church. The first one commemorates 300 years of Reformed Church in Denmark and was issued in 1985.
The second one, issued in 1986, manifests the anniversary of the Reformed Church from a different perspective – the end of the oligarchy of the Catholic Church in Denmark under the reign of King Christian III of Denmark.
Estonia joined the numerous countries which commemorated 500 years of the Reformed Church with this stamp issued in 2017.
Martin Luther’s 500th birth anniversary did not go unnoticed in Finland – the stamp below was issued in 1983.
France is one of the few self-declared lay countries of the world that really is lay. Christianity is recognized as a cult by roughly half of their population – and less than 1% belong to the Reformed Church. However, this did not prevent France to honor the memory of Martin Luther with this stamp issued in 1983.
Similar in design and intent with the French one, this stamp was issued in 1983 in French Polynesia.
Germany is by far the most prominent producer of Martin Luther and Reformed Church stamps. For the sake of ease, I grouped here together stamps issued in East and West Germany, in SAAR, and also in modern-day Federal Germany.
The stamp above was issued in 1951 in SAAR and pictures together Johannes Calvin and Martin Luther – two of the most prominent fathers of the Reformed Church.
The German Post issued this series of definitives in 1961. It features left to right: Elisabeth of Thueringen, Albertus Magnus, Johannes Gutenberg, Albrecht Duerer, Matin Luther, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, and Johann Sebastian Bach. There’s a second, extended set, containing more personalities.
Two more issues were released in 1967.
The first one commemorates Martin Luther’s theses from 1517.
The second one, issued in East Germany, commemorates the same event from the perspective of the city of Wittenberg. It depicts Luther’s house in Wittenberg, Martin Luther himself, as well as the Church in Wittenberg.
The stamp above was issued in 1971 to commemorate 450 years since the Council of Worms where Martin Luther was summoned to explain the foundation of his faith, which was considered a heresy.
The above stamp, issued in 1979, depicts Martin Luther’s Cathechism in a Biblical manner, similar to the one on Mount Sinai, where Moses is presented the Tables of the Law.
The year 1983 could not go undocumented in German philately, due to its extreme importance. The 500th anniversary of birth of Martin Luther was honored on stamps both in East and West Germany.
This beautiful 4-stamp set and the accompanying minisheet were issued in East Germany. The minisheet features an engraving from Martin Luther’s translation of the Holy Bible.
Meanwhile in West Germany, a stamp picturing Martin Luther was issued the same year.
In 1989, a new stamp was issued to commemorate 450 years of Reformation in Brandenburg.
In 1996, the first Martin Luther-themed stamp from unified Germany was issued.
Three years later, in 1999, a novel stamp was issued, enriching the topic, to commemorate the 500th birth anniversary of Katharina von Bora, Martin Luther’s wife.
In 2017, for the 500th anniversary of the Reformed Church, Germany again issued stamps from this topic.
The first one represents the German pair to the joint Germany-Brazil issue.
The second one shows a page of text with notes from Martin Luther’s translation of the Holy Bible.
There are two Hungarian issues devoted to Martin Luther and the Reformed Church, issued in the key years 1983 and 2017.
Pictured above, the 1983 block issued by Hungary.
Pictured above, the 2017 issue, consisting of 2 stamps and a block.
The 500th birth anniversary of Martin Luther was also commemorated on this Dutch stamp from 1983.
Papua New Guinea
The above stamps were issued in 1986 to commemorate 100 years of the Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea.
Poland issued a stamp in 2017 to commemorate 500 years of the Reformed Church.
Pictured above, the 2017 stamp and the First Day Cover issued on the occasion.
These two stamps were issued in South Africa in 1967.
Suriname honored the Reformed Church two times; the first time in 1968 to celebrate 300 years of Reformed Church.
The second time, it was in 1983 for the 500th birth anniversary of Martin Luther.
The United States of America
The United States of America celebrated as well the 500th birth anniversary of Martin Luther with this beautiful stamp.
Stamps featured in post: 56; Period: modern and contemporary (1951-2017); Pricing: moderate; Availability: most of the items are readily available.