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Luther Library

Constructed in 1963, the Guildhall is now home to the City Library. It is in charge of the Luther Library with its over 650 printed works from the Reformation era, including works by Luther and Melanchthon. 

The most precious item is a parchment Bible from 1541 with a personal inscription by the reformer. 

The Luther Bible with a handwritten dedication by Luther, photo: William Schanzer 
The Luther Bible with a handwritten dedication by Luther, photo: William Schanzer
Cover of Martin Luther's Letter to the Aldermen, photo: Worms City Library 
Cover of Martin Luther's Letter to the Aldermen, photo: Worms City Library

A touchscreen-operated media station at the entrance provides information on the collection and on works printed in the studio of Peter Schöffer the Younger (add in May)

Max (von) Heyl donated the collection to St Paul's Library in Worms as part of the celebrations marking the 400th birthday of the major reformer in 1883. It mainly comprises works by Luther in editions up to 1548 (pamphlets, Bible translations, Latin and German copies) and therefore almost all of the works presented to Luther during the 1521 Diet of Worms with the instruction that he recant.

The copy of his pamphlet 'To the Councillors of all Cities on German Territory' (Wittenberg 1524) was included in UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme in 2015. In this text, Luther advocates a humanist education for boys and girls of all social standings, above all in order to equip them for biblical instruction.

He called on the councillors to build schools and libraries; Worms complied in 1527 by erecting the municipal Latin school – today the Rudi Stephan Grammar School. Beneath a cover adorned with a renaissance woodcut, the early print by Lucas Cranach and Christian Döring shows two cherubs clutching a Luther rose medallion.

The collection was assembled by Julius Stern, a Jewish bookseller and antique dealer from Worms, on behalf of the patron. He also compiled the first catalogue listing 489 items. Some of the rare pieces in the collection originate from the estate of Friedrich Schneider, Canon of Mainz and friend of Max (von) Heyl. 


August Weckerling, director of St Paul's Library, was authorised by the antiquarian society of Worms to procure other items for the Luther Library. The collection was exhibited in the 'Luther Room' in St Paul's Museum, precursor to today's City Museum. Heyl commissioned the Munich-based artist Lorenz Gedon to design the room with old German furniture and fixtures.

The titles in the Luther Library are available for research in the online user catalogue, apart from the three original letters by Luther dated 1524, 1525 and 1542, and the manuscript of a German psalm exegesis dating from the end of the 15th century. Users enter "mag lb?" in the search category 'book number' to access all titles contained in the online catalogue. Groups of 3 persons or more can arrange an appointment for a guided tour at any time by calling: +49 6241/853-4200 (Dr. Busso Diekamp) or by e-mail to: busso.diekamp@worms.de.