Since May 8, 1947, the statue of Martin Luther has served as a magnificent symbol of the importance of education, not only to seminarians and pastors, but to the laity as well. “The Gettysburg Seminary Luther” is a bronze sculpture created by the renowned Baltimore sculptor, Hans Schuler.
In his will, dated March 7, 1927, Charles Cronhardt, Jr. designated the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg as his primary beneficiary. The first interest of the trust fund was to be used “to purchase and place on its Seminary grounds an appropriate statue of Martin Luther”. A statue committee was appointed in 1934, but it decided to wait until more than $6000 would be accumulated. In 1942, with the completion of the Chapel, the statue committee was recreated and with $16,000 now available they proceeded to commission Hans Schuler to produce a statue for the Seminary grounds.
Instead of a German Luther, a replica of the traditional Luther as sculpted by Ernst Rietschel, which depicted Luther as he supposedly looked at the moment of his defiance in Worms, the Statue Committee chose to represent Luther in a design in keeping with the educational mission of the theological seminary. Thus, the “Gettysburg Seminary Luther” statue is an original design depicting the great Reformer as “the teacher” in a relaxed, seated position surrounded by books and documents, with the open Bible on his lap. His right hand is raised depicting Luther interpreting the Word while his left hand points to a passage of Holy Scripture. If one is so inclined to climb up the pedestal, one would find that his right foot is stamping a papal ticket of indulgence! The Gettysburg Luther statue is the only statue of a seated Luther of which we are aware.
Therefore, since 1947, students, faculty and community have been inspired and encouraged in their search for truth as they gaze on this most beautiful monument to Martin Luther. On the north side of the monument the words of Luther encourage us to “..sit at the feet of the prophets and apostles” and as we study the Word we will learn as from John 8:32 “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”.
The monument was given in eternal memory of Charles Cronhardt and Susan Cronhardt of Baltimore, Maryland dedicated by their son, Charles Cronhardt, Jr. 1947.
For more information on The Luther Statue, you may find the above listed sources in the Abdel Ross Wentz Library. The librarian can also lead you to letters and documents that may be of interest in learning more of the background of the Luther Statue.