Below is an excerpt from Chapter 8: The Plague from Letters from Katie Luther by Shirley Casemier.
August 10, 1527
The Black Plague has come to Wittenberg. The professors and students have moved the university to Jena, hoping they would not become ill there. Sir Doctor said he must stay so he will be here for the people who need him. “A shepherd,” he said, “may not leave his flock.” I told him if he stays, so will I, but I did not tell him how frightened I am. What of the baby I carry? What if we become sick and die? And who would take care of our little Hans? I must put my trust in God and live one day at a time. People are terrified. They run from each other and abandon even family members.
…At first we went from house to house, trying to help, but now we have opened the Black Cloister to take in those who are sick. There are bodies lying in the streets. Every day, people pound on our door, asking to be let in. All forty rooms are filled with beds of the sick. There are mats on the floor with sick people lying on them. I try not to step on them as I go about giving a glass of water here and a comforting word there.
…Every night I thank God for the strength he gave to get me through the day, and every morning I pray again for strength and faith to get through this new day. God is teaching me to rely on him, and him alone.
…When I think I cannot go on working any longer, I remember the text in Isaiah 41 where God says, “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand saying unto thee, fear not, I will help thee.” He does help. Without his help I could not face each new day.
…I pray God will keep us well, so we can help the sick. Some of them are terrified to die. Sir Doctor comforts them with God’s word. How frightening to die without faith. I long for winter, when the cold weather will help bring this terrible sickness to an end. Pray for me that I may be what my husband and all these poor sick people need.
Your sister in the Lord,
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