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Title page of first printed edition of Exsurge Domine

Exsurge Domine is a papal bull issued on 15 June 1520 by Pope Leo X in response to the teachings of Martin Luther in his 95 theses and subsequent writings which opposed the views of the papacy. The Latin title Exsurge Domine is translated into English as Arise, O Lord.

While the bull did not directly condemn all the points of Luther's doctrines, it did specifically demand that Luther retract 41 errors (some drawn from his 95 theses, some from other writings or sayings attributed to him) within sixty days of its publication in neighboring regions to Saxony. This time expired on 10 December 1520, which was the day on which Luther burned his copy of the bull along with volumes of Canon law by the Elster Gate in Wittenberg. This book burning was in reaction to Johann Eck's procedure of burning Luther's books after he had published the bull in various places in Germany. As he burned his copy of the bull, Luther is reported to have said, "Because you have confounded the truth [or, the saints] of God, today the Lord confounds you. Into the fire with you!" reminiscent of Psalm 21:9.[1][2]

Because Luther refused to comply, the pope issued the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem on 3 January 1521, excommunicating him.

The Vatican's copy of Exsurge Domine is still extant in the Vatican Library.


  1. ^ Martin Brecht, Martin Luther, trans. James Schaaf (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985), 1:424.
  2. ^ Psalms 21:9

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