On January 23, 1546, Martin Luther traveled to Eisleben, his hometown, to arbitrate a family dispute between two brothers, the counts of Mansfield. Through his mediation, the two reconciled. However, Luther, sixty-two years old and weary of the many demands on his life, fell ill. Knowing the end was near, he wrote his last will and testament. It began with the words, “I am well known in heaven, on earth, and in hell,” a true statement of the result of his bold stance throughout his life.
In his last moments, Luther was asked by his friend Justus Jonas, “Do you want to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine you have taught?” He answered emphatically, “Yes!” Luther’s last words were: “We are beggars. This is true.”
He died in Eisleben on February 18, 1546, within sight of the font where he was baptized as an infant. Luther’s body was carried to Wittenberg as thousands of mourners lined the route. Church bells tolled for their fallen leader.
Luther was buried, appropriately, in the Castle Church of Wittenberg. This was the very church where, twenty-nine years earlier, he had nailed his Ninety-five Theses. His final resting place was immediately below the pulpit, where he had so often stood to preach the Word. His wife, Katherine, wrote: “For who would not be sad and afflicted at the loss of such a precious man as my dear lord was. He did great things not just for a city or a single land, but for the whole world.” The influence of her husband did, indeed, reach around the globe.