Katie and Martin
(After reading this play, you
may want to watch the video of it which can be found in this website
immediately after this text. A
video brings the play alive. It
is easily downloaded in seconds.)
and Martin come down the center aisle to the chancel.
Martin is a few steps behind Katherine and is pleading with
her as they walk. In
the chancel area are a kitchen table, two chairs, coffee cups and a
stack of old books on the table.
Off to the side is a large, old suitcase in which to pack
clothing. Nearby are
men's clothing, including a favorite old sweater that is ready to be
Katie, Katie. Don't be
so upset. I have to go
to Mansfield. The
governors are arguing with each other again, and I am needed to help
make the peace. (while
walking down the aisle)
My dear Martin, why do you always have to go to this conference and
to that meeting? It's
been the same our whole married life.
In 22 years of marriage, nothing has changed.
You've been working too hard, and you haven't been feeling
well have you? (Martin
shrugs, looking caught!)
And now you insist on going again.
I'll be fine.... and besides, I'll know that you are here, at home
taking care of things. ...
(moving to hold her)..Katie, you're my morning star.
(Swiftly brushing his hand off
her shoulder) Don't morning star me!
Katie, you are my morning star.
You are the one who shines through our darkest nights
(Softens) O Martin.
I don't know what I would have
done without you.... the night baby Elizabeth died.... the night our
little Lena died.... the nights I was so sick.
And almost died. Three
times, you were so sick I thought I had lost you.
And every time, you were my light
of hope that morning would come... and it always did.
O Martin... must you go? You're
64 years old. You're so
tired. Let one of the
younger men handle it.
I would like to, but they need me.
I have to go Katie. Would
you please help me pack?
(Giving in, somewhat disgustedly)
Oh, of course.
I have to get some of these books ready to take along. My Bible here. (Pause.
Martin moves to the table and is seated where he picks up the
books and begins to look at them.
Katie moves to the shirts and sweaters to begin to pack them.
She fondly holds an old sweater of Martin's to her chest.)
Did you want to take this
Of course. My favorite
one, the one that you
made me. Would you pack
What memories.... Martin, do you
remember that first letter I wrote to you?
Of course, let me see (absent mindedly.)
Ah, yes, you were living in the convent with the other nuns
and you wanted me to help you escape.
I didn't know where to turn for help.
The convent was terrible.
My father took me there when I was five years old... after my
mother died. How I
missed my home, my brothers, my sisters.
I was so unhappy for 20 years.
You must have been miserable, living without family, in that convent
for twenty years, but
why did you write to me, of all people?
You! (moves to table -
where both sit) You
were our symbol of freedom. You
called all believers to be free in Christ and no longer slaves to
the tyranny of the church and convent.
How I detested that church... and... and... how I loved plotting
your escape. Remember
the way I got old Leonard Koppe to come and rescue you in his
merchant wagon. I said:
"Leonard, why don't you go on Easter Eve.
The convent will be so quiet.
No one will be suspicious."
I can still feel it in my bones as if it were last night
The nuns and I were hiding in the room upstairs.
It was quiet and dark. And
just before 10 o'clock,
we crawled out the window and hid.
We were afraid the wagon wouldn't come.
Afraid we would be discovered and punished by the Mother
And then you crept quietly from behind the bushes and you
climbed up into the wagon. You
squeezed in between the barrels of pickled herring and Leonard
covered the wagon with the canvas.
He drove as quietly as possible, not to waken the Mother
Superior., and outside the convent, he galloped those horses as fast
as he could over cobbled stone. Those barrels of herring were splattering and spilling all
over you. And when you
arrived the next morning, did you smell like pickled fish!
(both laughing uproariously as the story is told)
That was embarrassing! We
smelled! My hair was
cropped so short. We
wore those dowdy clothes. The
people from Wittenberg looked us over and knew that we were runaway
nuns. I was so embarrassed at the way we looked.
O what a morning.... At least I had a job as a maid, thanks
But you didn't stay there very
long as I recall... Eventually.... you proposed marriage to me.
I proposed to you?
Come on Katie, don't pretend otherwise.
We both know that you took the initiative and told my good
friend that you wanted to marry me.
You're talking about Amsdorf.
Yes, I was trying to set you up with Pastor Glatz.
Glatz!!! (makes gesture
that Pastor Glatz is fat. ) He
was such a bore. I
couldn't bear the thought of spending a lifetime with that tiresome
man, so I went to Amsdorf and said:
"I don't want to marry Pastor Glatz.
I would rather marry a man of courage... a man of strong
character... like Dr. Martin Luther."
But he wasn't listening to me.
He didn't understand. And
so I shouted: "I refuse to marry Pastor Glatz!" and stormed out
and slammed the door.
Was he ever shocked! When
I came home that night, he was waiting at the door and said,
"Katherine von Bora is a proud women... a stubborn woman... a
haughty woman (at this moment, Katie is walking across the front of
the stage with a haughty gait) and she refuses to marry
Pastor Glatz. Instead,
Dr. Luther, she would rather marry you!
I ever shocked!
Well, I was never proud, haughty or stubborn.
(Luther is laughing with glee at her remarks.) I was strong willed perhaps and that is exactly what you
The kind of woman I wanted. A
strong, independent, German frau.
I was a young 26 years old and you were an older 42. Two weeks passed and then you came to me and said:
(imitating masculine demeanor)
"Katherine von Bora, God has put it in my heart to marry
you as an example for the other priests.
(Luther shrugs defenselessly)
As an example! You said nothing about wanting me for your wife.
You said nothing about love.
Katie, that night, I didn't know about love, affection and
tenderness. That night,
I didn't know about women.
That's the truth! You didn’t know about women and our feelings
about all those lovely wedding gifts.
I had never seen so many beautiful things in my whole life.
You just gave them away…to the poor and needy.
And that Venetian glass. That
beautiful Venetian glass that we received from the Governor. You know, the one that sat on the mantle above the fireplace
(Luther, finally nodding yes), you gave it to some poor student to
pay his rent.
And when I complained, you said:
(Imitating Luther's voice)
"Katie, God will provide."
.... Pwwwwtttt!!! (turns,
walks away to continue packing)
Katie, God did provide for us in all circumstances.
Think of it: when
we got married, the governor gave us the 40 room cloister I was
living in to be our home. Potentially,
it was a 40 room home!
Forty rooms full of centuries of
soot that I had to clean up every day!
And then God provided us with
those 12 boarding students, who came to live with us so we could
make a little extra money.
Twelve hungry, messy, smelly,
dirty men for me to take care of.
And then God provided us with our
five children, our seven nieces and nephews we took care of, and
then several orphans who came to live at our house.
see, with our five, the seven nieces and nephews, the 12 boarding
students... Aunt Lena, Wolf the gardener, and you always had some
visiting dignitaries.... there must have been 35 people for me to
take care of. (Luther stands behind Katie, adding all these numbers
up such as 12, 24, 25, 26. etc.)
And don't forget the Agricolas... the two of them... plus their nine
children who came to live with us.
.... It was
absolutely wonderful. First
God provided us with a great big home... and then God provided us
with children and nieces and nephews and all those wonderful people
to take care of. and then God provided me you... to do all the work.
I would have been better off in a convent.
(walking to other side of stage)
Katie, God didn't want you off in some convent.
He wanted you to be here, at home and in the neighborhood,
taking care of all of these people, the children, the orphans, the
students, doing our daily work.
That's what holiness is.
Holiness isn't being cloistered off in some convent, sewing
beads on a chasuble. That
isn't holiness. Holiness is doing the stuff that God wants you to
I suppose you're right. (Luther
moves to the table and begins to look at his books)
And God provided us the big vegetable garden... and all the
farm animals…and all of them needed to be taken care of... but...
but... I wouldn't have had to work so hard if you would have been
paid for all those books you wrote.
You never made a dime from your writings.
But the publishers, they made plenty of money.
(Holding some old books) You still resent it that I didn't make a
dime off of these books I wrote.
You still resent that; it still sticks in your craw.
See these callused hands of mine?
I worked them to the bone.
A little more money would have helped.
Katie, God didn't want us to be rich in the things of this world.
God wanted us to be rich in love, rich in affection.
And besides, God has provided for us in all circumstances of
our lives together, in the good times and the bad.
Yes, that's certainly true. Like
when the plague struck Wittenberg.
So many people were sick and dying.
The others fled in fear.
But we stayed to help. Somehow,
miraculously, God provided. God
protected us during the worst of the plague.
But God didn't protect us entirely.
Remember... the night that baby Elizabeth died.
The night that little Lena died.
(Martin and Katie are reaching across the table and
comforting each other during these painful memories or standing and
touching each other affectionately.)
Precious Lena. She was
only 12 years old. It
was the worst night of our lives.
Remember, she called for Hans to come to her.
How she loved her brother Hans.
When we saw the two of them together that night and into the
morning, I thought our hearts would break into a thousand pieces. It
was the worst night of our lives together.
It was so awful for all of us.
… Martin, how can it be that we can be so confident of our
place with God in heaven, and still grieve so deeply the death of
our daughters? It is so hard.
Life is hard, Katie. The
cross is hard. God
carrying the cross was hard. But
God protected us. He
protected us from giving up, from quitting.
He protected us from despair. ...
And God provided for us. God provided us with children. He
provided us these Gospel promises (taking hold of the German Bible)
that our children would live forever with Christ.
And God provided you... you, my morning star.
O Martin, my beloved husband. I
need you here, don't go.
I want to stay, but I must go.
Please... we got talking so much that we stopped packing
(returns to packing). I need to take these books along... the German
Bible for my devotional reading... Aesop's Fables for
my light reading.
Aesop's Fables and the Bible. You
translated them into our German language.
If we didn't have these books in our own language, we
wouldn't be able to read these delightful stories, or God's holy
words for ourselves... in our own German tongue.
Martin, what a blessing you have been to the whole world.
Remember, we are all merely beggars before God.
And.... be careful lest you become too proud.
You are always teasing me about
Katie, I must go. (embraces her) Katie,
my rib. I am part of
you and you are part of me.. We
are part of each other. I
must be going. I will send Hans and Martin Junior to come by and pick up the
Do you promise you will take care
I love you my dear Martin. God
And I love you. God
bless you, until we meet again, God willing.
leaves. Katie continues to pack, perhaps humming the hymn, "From
Heaven Above to Earth I Come."
She then turns and faces the congregation as she
affectionately holds Martin's old favorite sweater.)
Martin did write. In
two weeks, I received five letters.
He was very busy. He
installed two young pastors; and he preached four sermons; he gave
communion, and he made the peace between the two quarreling
governors. But he still
was not feeling well. We
were expecting him home any day.
Then one morning when we were sitting at breakfast, there was
a knock at the door. It
was three of his best friends.
I looked into Philip Melanchthon's eyes, and I knew.
I knew that Martin had died.
He died in the town of Eisleben, the very city in which he
had been born and baptized. ... Our life
together was now over.
are so many things I loved and admired about that man.
He had such joy in knowing Christ.... He was confident in
preaching God's word of grace.... the message that we are saved, not
because we are good, but because God is good. I loved his courage: he
stood up to princes and popes.
how I miss his tender love for me... and for the children.
I remember one evening, just before Christmas.
He was in his study, sitting before the fire, in our rocking
chair, rocking little Margaret.
As he rocked, he sang a song that he had written.
It was this one.
or reads from a book of hymns)
"From heaven above to earth I come.
To bring good news to every home.
Glad tidings of great joy I bring, whereof I now will gladly
My favorite stanza is this one:
"Ah, dearest Jesus, holy child; make thee a bed, soft
undefiled, Within my heart, that it may be, a quiet chamber, kept
for thee." ...
How I loved that
last line: My heart...
a quiet chamber... kept for the Lord Jesus Christ....
pause. Katie embraces
the old sweater warmly to her face and looks up)
God speed, my dear Martin....(Katie exits)
organ then begins quietly playing the hymn, "From Heaven Above
to Earth I Come," and then the organ builds and builds and
finally leads into the congregation singing selected stanzas of the
hymn, “From Heaven Above.”)