As a thank you to Luther for dedicating his translation of the Book of Daniel to him, Prince John Frederick, patron and ardent supporter of Luther, presented him with a signet ring that bore this seal. It was common practice for people of note to possess such a ring. The gift was delivered personally by Prince Frederick to Luther on Holy Cross Day, September 14 at the Castle of Koburg.
I look at the symbol and think, “love blooms when a heart is centered on Christ”; however, the ring maker asked Luther if the colors were correct. Luther replied in the letter that follows:
“Honorable, kind, dear Sir and Friend!
Grace and Peace in Christ!
Since you ask whether my seal has come out correctly, I shall answer most amiably and tell you of those thoughts which now come to my 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 color (red), to put me in mind that faith in Christ crucified saved us. For if one believes from the heart, he will be justified. ["For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." --Romans 10:10] Even though it is a black cross, which mortifies and which also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its natural color and does not ruin nature...that is, the cross does not kill, but keeps man alive. For the just shall live by faith, by faith in the Savior. ["This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life.'" --Romans 1:17]
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. ["I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." --John 14:27] Therefore, the rose is to be white, not red, for white is the color of the spirits and of all angels. ["..an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightening, and his clothing was as white as snow." --Matthew 28:2b-3 and "She saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying." --John 20:12]
This rose, moreover, is fixed 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, to signify that such bliss in heaven is endless, and more precious than all joys 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."