After six years of pushing the City of Rome, a group of Adventists finally succeeded in getting a square in Rome named after Martin Luther. Officially, it will called “Piazza Martin Lutero, teologo tedesco della Riforma (1483-1546)” because……Italians. Unbeknownst to the Adventists, a Lutheran group was trying to push for the same goal, because everyone loves Martin Luther – even the Roman Catholics, but more on that in a moment. The occasion was the 500th anniversary of Luther’s one-and-done pilgrimage to Rome, whereupon leaving he muttered, “If there is a hell, Rome is built over it.” So, naturally, the city was eager to commemorate him (or want the Christian/German tourist dollars). This was no ploy to plant a Protestant flag in the papal back yard either, because the Roman Catholics signed on with a shrug. 97.5% of Italy’s 60m inhabitants are Catholic (or at least fear their mother enough not to say otherwise), so there’s no need for the pope to worry. But make sure that, if you ever get to Rome, you wander on to the Oppian Hill where the square squats. It’s a beautiful memorial to one man’s disillusionment of the naked power and hypocrisy of the Church in his day. In Rome, Martin Luther the Catholic died. In Rome, Martin Luther the reformer was born.

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