A day of preparation and expectation in many Christian churches around the world. It is also a day of waiting, of taking time to reflect on the sombre events of the Crucifixion before the joy of Resurrection morning.
On this day 495 years ago, a group of 12 nuns in a convent close to a small town in Saxony were waiting for night to fall, and for the opportunity to put their plan to flee the convent into action. It was the one night of the year when they were officially allowed to stay up late in order to undertake the Easter Vigil, offering them the best possible chance of escape. The convent buildings are all but gone now,
but it is possible to imagine them waiting in silence in their individual cells until they are sure everyone else has gone to sleep, then slipping through the door in the wall of the convent to the wagon that will carry them to freedom.
It was a courageous act, not only on their part, but also on the part of Herr Koppe, the Torgau councillor and merchant who provided the transport, and Martin Luther, the reformer who made the arrangements after he received their appeal for help. It was a capital offence to aid a nun in this way, so not to be undertaken lightly.
It was an action that would have far reaching consequences and the effects have reverberated across the centuries and throughout the Christian world.
For Martin Luther and for one of the nuns, the twenty-three-year old Katharina von Bora, the impact would be more personal.