On June 8, 2013, Google celebrated the 505th anniversary of the birthday of Primož Trubar. Sometimes called the Slovenian Martin Luther, Trubar was born in 1508. He was the founder of the Slovenian language and is a national hero in Slovenia. He can be found on coins and postage stamps. Monuments have been dedicated to him, and even television shows have been made about him.
Trubar’s father wanted him to become a priest, so he sent him off to study toward that end. Very much like Luther, Trubar came from a family of limited means. Just as Luther had to sing on the streets to earn money to support himself, Trubar did as well. He actually sang in the church choir in Salzburg, Austria, for a living while studying for the ministry. In 1524, he went on to study in Vienna, Austria, where he was ordained as a priest in 1529.
He later returned to his home nation of Slovenia. It was while he was in Slovenia that the writing of the Reformers made their way into his hands—the works of Luther and some of the Swiss Reformers. Over a five-year period, Trubar’s preaching became noticeably different—noticeably Protestant. By 1540, he was administering the Lord’s Supper in what the Roman Catholics would have seen as a Protestant manner. By 1547, he was banned from his town and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church.
One of Trubar’s great longings was to have books in the language of his countrymen. He saw what Luther was doing for the Germans by translating not only the Bible into the German language but also theological works, and how these were equipping and encouraging Christians in their faith. He wanted to do the same thing for the people of Slovenia. The problem was that Slovenian was not yet a literary language. It had lacked many basic elements such as consistent spelling and consistent grammar. He needed to create these elements of the language in order to write in the language. He even needed to create a Slovenian alphabet.
Remarkably, over the course of a few years, he was able to publish the New Testament in the Slovenian language. In addition, he published many other books, translating a number of Luther’s books and the books of the other Reformers. Overall, he published twenty-two books in the Slovenian language, and he also published two books in German because of the large German population in Slovenia. In one of the prefaces of these books, Trubar quoted Romans 14:11: “Every tongue shall confess to God.”
Trubar died in June 1586. He was the Slovenian Martin Luther who brought the truths of the gospel, the truths of the Reformation, and a language to the Slovenian people so that every tongue might confess to God.