Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church

4083 Yager Road, McMinnville TN 37110

Luther Rose

The Luther Rose


Today the Luther Rose stands as the universal symbol for Lutheranism. From its very beginning, that rose–seal with its embedded symbols represent the theology espoused by Dr. Martin Luther. The Luther Rose (also known as the Martin Luther’s Seal) was designed by him as a symbol of his faith and theology in 1519, it is believed. Later, while Martin Luther was staying at the Coburg Fortress during the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, Prince John Frederick used this as the basis for the design of a signet ring that Luther could use to authenticate his correspondence. He wrote a letter “from the wilderness of the Koburg castle”, dated 1530 July 08, approving the design for the signet. Luther explained the symbolism embedded in this physical compendium of his theology in a letter to one of his negotiators at the Diet of Augsburg, Lazarus Spengler.

Dr. Martin Luther's letter to Lazarus Spengler

“Grace and peace from the Lord. As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology. The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. 'For one who believes from the heart will be justified' (Rom. 10:10). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. 'The just shall live by faith' (Rom. 1:17) but by faith in the crucified. Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12). Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal. This is my compendium theoligae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation. May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen.”

This translation into English is from Johannes Schilling, Briefe, Auswah, Ubersetzung und Erlauterungen in Vol. 6 of Ausgewaehlte Schriften/MartinLuther.

How the Luther Rose is used on this website

The Luther Rose appears in our mastheads — on the home page in large format and on the back pages in smaller format. Our images were taken from a graphics resource page of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod where they are provided free charge and free of copyright. Several versions are available there.

Our page background color was chosen to promote readability. But with that exception, the RGB values for the colors used on our pages (black, heart red, sky blue, and gold) are those found in those Luther Rose images.

Last updated on 2010 November 29 by the webmaster, Jim Frysinger.