On Sunday 4 June Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark joined Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the President of the Folketinget, Pia Kjærsgaard, at a national service marking the anniversary of the start of the Reformation.
In a post on the Danish monarchy’s official Instagram page a beaming Queen Margrethe was seen walking up the aisle of Haderslev Cathedral. The caption reads: “H.M. The Queen was present at a joint national worship service in Haderslev Cathedral on the occasion of the Reformation Jubilee. The queen is the protector of the Reformation Anniversary 2017.”
The cathedral service recognised 2017 as marking 500 years since the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, which he composed and sent to the Archbishop of Mainz on 31 October 1715.
In the 95 Theses Luther argued against the abusive practices of people who sold indulgences, which claimed to reduce punishment for sins once the buyer arrived in purgatory. Luther was adamant that the only way for sins to be forgiven was through spiritual repentance and that indulgences allowed Christians to avoid ever expressing real sorrow for their sins. He thus presented his (now infamous) list of propositions against indulgences to be argued at an academic disputation. It’s not clear if such an event ever took place but the Theses marked a turning point and the start of the Reformation.
Though the Reformation in Europe began in October 1517, it did not officially reach Denmark until the 1520s when King Christian II gave his support to Lutheran figures such as Hans Tausen.
Christian II’s grandson, King Christian III, was directly acquainted with Martin Luther and the royal’s earliest teachers – who were zealous reformers – encouraged Christian’s Protestant leanings even in childhood.
The King’s strong religious views led to the establishment of Lutheranism as the Danish National Church on 30 October 1536. Lutheranism in Denmark eliminated key Catholic tenants such as fast days and celibacy and made Danish the official language for all church services.
Similar services of Reformation commemoration and recognition have been planned throughout the year in countries across Europe.