On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of a church in the German town of Wittenberg. In doing so, he challenged the position of the Catholic Church on the forgiveness of sins. The theses claimed that it was not the Pope, but God alone who could forgive sins, based on the repentance of the sinner. Accordingly, Luther’s theses condemned the practice of selling indulgences. This act initiated the great movement of the Protestant Reformation, which spread very quickly and enjoyed mounting support in society.
By the middle of the century, the Reformation began to spread in Hungary, contributing greatly to the development of Hungarian language and literature. One of the Reformation’s fundamental ideas was that everyone should have access to the Bible in their native language. As a result of the Reformation, new centers of culture developed, and the first full Hungarian version of the Bible, translated by Gáspár Károli, was printed in Vizsoly.
The Reformed Church became the most influential branch of Protestantism in Hungary, but the Lutheran Church and the Unitarian Church also had significant impacts on the nation’s cultural history.
To mark the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, the National Bank of Hungary is issuing a 10,000-forint coin in silver and a 2,000-forint coin in cupro-nickel. Both legal tender commemorative coins are 38.61 millimeters (1.52 inches) in diameter with issue limits of 5,000 coins each. The .925 silver coin is struck in Proof quality, weighs 31.46 grams, and costs $59.75. The 2,000 forint cupro-nickel coin is in Brilliant Uncirculated condition, weighs 30.8 grams, and costs $19.75. The first day of issue is October 31.
The two formats have identical designs. The obverse depicts the facade of a church with open gates, symbolizing that the Reformation brought people closer to religion, as the word of God was preached in local languages as opposed to exclusively Latin. The sturdy walls of the church allude to the Protestant hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” which was composed by Martin Luther. The image of a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, appears in the window of the church. The rays emanating from the open gates symbolize the Holy Spirit flowing out.
The reverse shows an open Bible, with the Greek letters alpha on the left and omega on the right, standing for the beginning and the end. Believers say the Reformation sharpened the focus on the Holy Scriptures as the one true source. Above the Bible, a dove can be seen in a window, indicating that the Bible can be understood only with the help of the Holy Spirit. The legend 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is at the bottom of a ribbon-like bookmark, also indicating that the process has not ended and that reformation and renewal are always needed. The mark of the sculptor, Róbert Csíkszentmihályi, is on the other end of the ribbon.
To order, or for more information on these and other coins from Hungary, contact the Hungarian Mint’s North American representative, Coin & Currency Institute (click on the Hungarian flag).