Standard Article

von Staupitz, Johann (c.1465–1524)

  1. Franz Posset

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1446

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Posset, F. 2011. von Staupitz, Johann (c.1465–1524). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


German. Born in Motterwitz, Saxony, to a noble family. He studied at Leipzig in 1485, joined the Augustinian Order, and in 1500 earned his doctorate in theology at Tübingen. In 1503 he was elected vicar-general of the Saxon Reform Congregation of the Augustinian Friars. His sermons treat the priority of God's mercy and sweetness. He became a friend of the humanists, and a promoter of good pastoral care. By 1506 he published in print the Constitutions of his Order at Nuremberg. He was among the founding members of the new University of Wittenberg in 1502 where he taught biblical theology. He accepted Martin Luther into his Order and made him his successor as professor in 1512. His leadership in the Order required him to travel to the Netherlands and Belgium. He became a prominent preacher and author of popular booklets on the Christian faith. He preached on Christ's passion at Salzburg in 1512 and in 1518. In 1514/1515 he may have aspired to become bishop of Salzburg-Chiemsee. In 1515 he published a book on discipleship and the art of dying. He published his Nuremberg sermons in 1517 in Latin and in German. The humanist sodality at Nuremberg was named after him. A copy of his most successful booklet, On the Love of God (1517/18), was signed by Martin Luther who sent it to his mother. In 1518 Staupitz let Luther discuss his theology at the Heidelberg Disputation. He invited Luther to escape his troubles and move to the Order's facilities in Salzburg. He was at Luther's side in Augsburg when in October 1518 Cardinal Cajetan interrogated him. In 1520 Staupitz preached in Salzburg on standing up for the “Evangelical Truth.” He resigned from the office of vicar-general in 1520, and after receiving papal dispensation to join the Benedictines in 1522, he was made abbot of St. Peter in Salzburg, after Cardinal Matthew Lang, archbishop of Salzburg, had deposed Abbot Simon. In 1520 Staupitz was requested to revoke and abjure any assumed Lutheran positions. He refused, saying that there was no need to revoke what he had never asserted. Philip Melanchthon confirmed that “Staupitz was no apostate” (that is from Luther's cause). Staupitz saved the evangelical (friendly to Luther) Augustinian Friar Stephan Agricola from further persecution in 1523. Staupitz continued to preach at Salzburg during Lent of 1523. Shortly before his death he wrote a letter to Luther expressing continued friendship, and that he wished he could meet with him for just one more hour and open the secrets of his heart to him.


  • von Staupitz, Johann (c.1465–1524);
  • saxon reform congregation of the augustinian friars;
  • Nuremberg Sermons, in Latin and German