Before unveiling the plaque, Ignazio Marino, Mayor of Rome, quoted the last words written by Luther: "We are all beggars, this is true."
September 21, 2015 L. Ferrara/Notizie Avventiste
The official opening ceremony of the Martin Luther Square. [Photo by A. Mazza]
The square “Piazza Martin Lutero: Teologo tedesco della Riforma (1483-1546)", or “ Piazza Martin Luther: German Theologian of the Reformation,” was inaugurated on Wednesday, September 16, in the Park of Colle Oppio, close to the Colosseum. The event was eagerly awaited by the Evangelical and Protestant people in Rome.
"It is an important moment for Adventist, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Salvation Army, Waldensian Churches who have promoted and worked for this day, and for the Protestant world," said Dora Bognandi, spokeswoman of the Committee of Evangelical Churches of Rome and associate director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department for the Seventh-day Adventist Italian Union (UICCA), in his opening address. "It is an important moment for European citizens, because the Reformation of Martin Luther strongly influenced the Western culture, and for the Italian institutions, too. It is also important for the Catholic Church, because the “minorities often play a role of critical conscience that brings things to change," she added.
Rome could not choose a better place to honor Martin Luther. It is a beautiful square that follows the perimeter of a large circular fountain that looks "cosy", because you can also sit and relax in it. A dry fountain now, but many hope fresh and alive water will soon gurgle out, an image of the gospel that recall Christ the living water, the Savior and free gift of God. Martin Luther rediscovered in Scripture the Salvation by Grace and gave back hope to every man and woman.
Many representatives of the institutions, representatives of Christian churches and other religious confessions attended the historic event: the ambassador of Germany in Italy, Susanne Wasum-Rainer; the Ambassador of Germany to the Holy See, Annette Schavan; a delegation from the parliament of Berlin; Jutta Fischer, mayor of Eisleben, the hometown of Martin Luther; the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, several Seventh-day Adventist pastors and leaders.
"We are really pleased to have contributed to this recognition as [the] Adventist Church," said President Stefano Paris to Notizie Avventiste, "We contribute to bring in Rome the name of Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation. We can say that through this square we too are represented as Evangelical minority in this important capital city that recognizes a man who loved the Bible and gave his all to it. This great event is also recognition to the protestant world. It is an historical moment”.
In his address, Jens-Martin Kruse, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rome, recalled the most important steps in Martin Luther life.
Michael Kretschmer, representative of the Bundestag, remembered the sensitivity of the father of the Reformation for the last (of the world). "If he were here today, he would tell us to take care of the poor," he said.
Jutta Ficher expressed great joy and invited the mayor of Rome to return the visit, participating to the celebrations for the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation, in 2017.
Ignazio Marino has welcomed the invitation to Germany. In his speech said he was moved, and thanked the authorities, the churches, the people present. He also mentioned the meeting he had in the morning with the delegation from the Parliament of Berlin on the migrant crisis.
"The German delegation is in Italy because they want to discuss with us on what we are doing to welcome migrants in Europe, in particular about the unaccompanied minors," said Marino, stressing the importance of collaboration between countries, cities and people – beyond the different faiths and ideologies – "to solve the problems in our complex society."
Before discovering the plaque, the Mayor Marino recalled the last words written by Luther before he died: "We are all beggars, this is true."
A prolonged applause accompanied the red-yellow cloth that fell down revealing the white marble engraved with the name of the square. It was a touching moment that resulted in a spontaneous singing of the hymn "Praise to the Lord, praise to the Lord of glory."
"Today gesture means that Rome has to respect every religion and faith. It is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice, Einstein said. And here we have broken some prejudices," said Marino.