Martin Luther got to know the cathedral city on the Elbe at an early age. In 1497, at the age of thirteen, he attended the Brethren of the Common Life School in Magdeburg. In order to earn his keep, he purportedly went through the city begging and singing, which was not at all uncommon at that time.
1524 proved to be of vital importance for Magdeburg and the Reformation: At the request of Mayor Nicolaus Sturm, Martin Luther came to the city in June of that year in order to preach. The response that his stay triggered was overwhelming. Due to the enormous crowds at his sermon in the church at the Augustinian monastery (now called the Walloon Church) on 24 June 1524, the sermon was repeated in St. John's Church two days later.
Several weeks later, on the 17 July 1524, nearly all of the city's churches committed themselves to Lutheranism and the Catholic Mass was abolished. The cathedral and the collegiate college of St. Sebastian, the St. Nicolai and St. Gangulphus churches, as well as the Franciscan, Dominican, and Premonstratensian cloisters were the only institutions that opposed the new doctrine. Magdeburg thus became a stronghold of Protestantism and its fame spread far beyond the boundaries of the city. As a result it was given the nickname 'Our Lord God's Chancery'. Over 100 years later during the Thirty Years' War this would prove to be the mighty city's undoing. On 10 May 1631 Magdeburg - a hated Protestant stronghold - suffered one of its worst misfortunes: After months of siege the city was completely destroyed by imperial troops commanded by Count Tilly and Field Marshall Pappenheim.
Today the Walloon Church and St. John's Church - which were both partially destroyed and rebuilt - as well as the Luther memorial from 1886 in front of St. John's Church remind us of the famous theologian from Eisleben's visits and sermons in Magdeburg. Martin Luther's work is now honoured by the city at a variety of events.