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500 years of Reformation

In 2017, 500 years have elapsed since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. His intention was to start a discussion about the theological justification of the sale of indulgences. This event marked the inception of the reformation movement which was to have vast consequences in many parts of Europe. The Icelandic Reformation took place in the middle of the 16th century – the point of reference generally being the execution of Jón Arason, the catholic bishop of Hólar, and his two sons, in 1550. Jón had struggled against the imposition of the Protestant Reformation in Iceland. With him out of the way, changes could be introduced much more easily. The Reformation meant that church property fell into the hands of the King of Denmark. The commercial influence of the Danish crown in Iceland increased greatly, culminating in the Monopoly which was enacted in 1602. Legislation and enforcement of laws became much stricter when the notorious Stóridómur (Grand Judgement) was passed in 1564. The National Church of Iceland will commemorate the 500th anniversary in various ways. A symposium will be held and selected writings of Luther will be published along with educational study material. The stamp’s motif is the title page of the New Testament, the first book printed in Icelandic, translated by Oddur Gottskálksson in 1540.