Have you been naughty? been a little gluttonous? or maybe a little envious of someone in your class? Or maybe you have gotten too lazy to do your homework you are desperately seeking answers here?
Well if this was the Reformation (it isn’t by the way!) and you found yourself answering “Yes” to these questions…fear not! Money could make all this guilt go away 🙂
In 1517 a Dominican friar named John Tetzel went to Wittenberg to preach and sell what the church called Indulgences.
He was given permission by the Pope to do so. Anybody could buy these indulgences! It meant that you could reach heaven no matter how you lived your life…the bigger the sin…the more money you paid! Make sense?
Tetzel sold indulgences like it was an art form. He played on people’s consciences, frightening them in order to extract money from them. Here is one delicate delivery he made to the people:
“Can’t you hear the voices of your dead parents and other relatives crying out. ‘Have mercy on us, for we suffer great punishment and pain. Why do you treat us so cruelly and leave us to suffer in the flames when it takes only a little to save us?”.
Tetzel was a showman. When preaching to gullible crowds in German towns he went far beyond the official doctrine of indulgences. He promised the immediate release of loved ones from the pain of Purgatory as soon as a purchase was made. He even had a catchy jingle to make the point:
‘As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, The soul from Purgatory springs.’ – Not quite Oasis but not bad!
Money Money Money…Must be Funny!
Imagine you have just seen Mtv Cribs and you’re thinking to yourself..who is this person? and why do they have so much money?
Well our celebrity of the day would have been the most powerful man in the world…Pope Leo X.
Pope Leo X used the money collected to build St.Peter’s Basillica in Rome.
The other half of the money collected went to the Archbishop of Mainz to pay back large amounts of money he had borrowed to buy bishoprics. (Simony)
Oh this guy IS GOOD at BEING BAD!
When one thinks of Popes (in the Christian sense) we think ‘God’s representative on Earth‘. Leo X was not exactly holier than thou in this case. Not only did he fleece people for money to build a church they probably would have never seen..but he bribed everyone he could to get to the top! I guess you could say his evil was in his blood!..considering he was a member of the Medici family!.
So there you have it! The selling of Indulgences by John Tetzel, approved by the papacy led Martin Luther to write his 95 theses. For more info on this ‘Protester’ Luther, check out other blogs in the Reformation section