On October 31, 1517, German monk Martin Luther nailed a 95-point critique of Catholicism to the door of a church in Wittenberg. The move incited a religious revolution, the Reformation, which is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year. As publishers push a plethora of books about Luther, a handful of houses have focused their lens on his wife, Katharina. A Catholic nun who escaped her convent and married Luther at age 26, Katharina is the subject of three new books hitting shelves this year.

Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk

By Michelle DeRusha (Baker, Jan.)

Religion and spirituality columnist for the Lincoln Journal Star, DeRusha draws on the writings of Martin Luther and his contemporaries to examine the love story between Luther and his wife Katharina—a Catholic nun—and the impact their scandalous union had on the institution of marriage today. DeRusha also builds a case for how Katharina, a mother of six who ran the household and organized the family’s finances, played an important role in defining Protestant family life.

Katie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation: The Unconventional Life of Katharina von Bora

By Ruth A. Tucker (Zondervan, June)

Tucker, a professor of mission studies and church history at Calvin Theological Seminary, compares Katharina Luther to modern-day Christian women in an effort to make her relevant to today’s culture.  The biography reimagines Katharina’s sixteenth-century village life, focusing on her experiences with child-rearing and running a boarding house. The book, Tucker said, is meant to shed light on “the most indispensable figure of the Reformation, save for Martin Luther himself.”  

Katharina and Martin Luther: The Scandalous Love Story at the Heart of the Reformation

By Asta Scheib (Crossroad Publishing, Sept.)

German novelist and screenwriter Scheib concentrates on Katharina’s decision to join the reform movement—from the night she and several of her fellow nuns fled their convent to her marriage to the leader of the Protestant Reformation. The book examines details of her marriage, and how it shaped marital teachings within the Protestant Church.