Wittenberg, Holy Roman Empire, 1517. A young monk marches up to the castle church and nails a piece of parchment to the massive wooden door. He is Martin Luther, and the parchment is his famous 95 theses, written in Latin. With this document, an open challenge to the power and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, the brash cleric sets off one of the greatest upheavals in human history: the Protestant Reformation.
Wittenberg, Germany, 2009. I walk down the long, cobblestoned Collegienstrasse to All Saints’ Church, the castle church that stands at one end of the street, eager to see the famous door on which Luther’s world-changing protest once hung. But as I approach the elaborate iron gate at the church entrance, I come face to face not with an ancient door of wood — it burned in 1760 — but with a stolid portal of heavy dark metal, permanently engraved with the text of Luther’s theses, in Old German.
So much for authenticity.