Katherine von Bora Luther stands in the background behind her husband, the great reformer Martin Luther. Her strength and courage were for the most part in the private realm, but this should not detract from her worth. Katherine's father was a nobleman, Hans von Bora. Her mother died soon after Katherine was born; at the age of five when her father remarried, Katherine was placed in a nunnery, where her aunt was abbess, so that she could gain an education. At the age of ten she was moved to another nunnery, Nimschen, where another aunt was also a nun; and in about 1515, at the age of sixteen, Katherine took her vows as a nun. For centuries this was how many women became nuns. It was frequently not a deliberate choice out of religious devotion; rather, the nunneries were too often places for superfluous females who were no longer wanted or needed at home and this was the case for Katherine. Katherine von Bora was a young nun during the time when Germany was rocked by the monk Martin Luther's attack on the Catholic Church.
Luther's father had intended him to be a lawyer, but a crisis of faith had propelled Martin instead to take his vows. He entered a monastery in 1505 and was ordained a priest two years later. Luther was deeply concerned about the ways one comes to salvation, and he was upset by any practices that he felt stood in the way. In October 1517, in Wittenberg where he was professor of theology, he nailed to the church door ninety-five theses attacking the Church's stand on indulgences, prayers churchmen were paid to recite so that the souls of individuals' loved ones would spend less time in purgatory. Two years later, when Luther had refused to recant his beliefs, the Catholic Church excommunicated him and declared him to be an outlaw. But fortunately Prince Frederick of Saxony, where Wittenberg was located, protected Luther and for a year kept him safe at his castle at Wartburg. A number of the German principalities wished to assert