On 31 October 1517 Martin Luther invited public debate on a number of theological issues which, in turn, became known as the start of the reformation. As Luther and his theology became more popular he designed a personal seal to summarize his theology. That seal is now commonly referred to as Luther’s rose.
In a letter to his friend Lazarus Spengler, Luther explains the seal as follows:
Honourable, kind, dear Sir and Friend! Since you ask whether my seal has come out correctly, I shall answer most amiably and tell you of those thoughts which come to mind about my seal as a symbol of my theology.
There is first to be a cross, black and placed in a heart, which should be of its natural colour, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. For if one believes from the heart he will be justified. Even though it is a black cross, which mortifies and which also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its natural colour and does not ruin nature; that is, it does not kill but keeps one alive. For the just person lives by faith, but by faith in the Crucified One. Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word it places the believer into a white joyful rose; for this faith does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the colour of the spirits and of all the angels. Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy; it is already a part of faith, and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.
May Christ, our dear Lord, be with your spirit until the life to come. Amen.
Martin Luther 8 July 1530 (LW AE 49: 358-359)
Spiritual & Cultural Leader