And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
The picture shows an excerpt from the impressive “lion and parrot window“ in the choir of St Augustine’s church, Erfurt, the former monastic church of Martin Luther. This window was created between 1300 and 1320 and is composed of elements used in the religious symbolism of the Middle Ages.
The lion and the parrot window is full of pairs of animals and various flowers and plants. The lilies and the roses symbolise the purity of Mary. The parrots reminded the monks to repeat the words of the Apostles without adding or subtracting anything. The lions and vines in the window refer directly to Christ as the lion of Judah and being as fruitful as the vine.
Martin Luther lived as a monk at St Augustine’s monastary in Erfurt from 17th July 1505 until autumn 1511. He would have had this window in front of him each time he prayed, which would have been at least seven times every day.
From Erfurt Martin Luther went to Wittemberg, and when he became a professor he chose the rose from St Augustine’s as the central theme for his coat-of-arms. He set a red heart in the centre and emblazoned it with a black cross – what we now call the Luther Rose. Later this symbol was adopted by many Lutheran churches and other Lutheran institutions around the world.