Tuesday, October 6, 2015

P-day Visit to Marburg, Pt. 1

Castle of the Landgraves (Counts) of Hesse
Saturday, October 3, was the Day of German Unity, a national holiday commemorating the unification of Germany. The goal of a united Germany was promoted by the Prussian King Wilhelm I in the late 19th century. Two great wars and the Cold War ended that dream. But when the wall fell in 1989, Germany rushed to reunite the East and West portions. A treaty signed by the two Germanys on October 3, 1990, finalized that reunification. This was the 25th anniversary of that treaty, so there were supposed to be a million people in the Frankfurt city center Saturday. We left town.

Marburg is an ancient city about 1 1/2 hours north of Frankfurt on the Lahn River. The old part of the city is incredibly picturesque. There were local celebrations, but it was much tamer than Frankfurt would have been. We joined 3 other senior missionary couples there for the day. We wish we had pictures of the beautiful farmland and forested hills we passed through to get there.

One of the couples joining us this week is serving in Weisbaden doing record capture for FamilySearch. They work 8 hours a day Monday through Friday capturing digital images of old records in a government office there. They volunteered for this mission in particular, and they have been here a year already. They're only complaint was that their backs hurt after a long day. They stand a lot of the time as they prepare the documents for photographing. Ouch!

We all met at the Church of St. Elizabeth built between 1235 and 1283 over the site of the grave of St. Elizabeth. It is the first church built in a purely Gothic style in Germany.

Twin spires of the Church of St. Elizabeth

Still used for worship 730 years later

Main entrance at the western end

The detailed stone work is impressive
There are five altar-triptyches in the church (three-part pieces originally designed for small areas of worship along the side walls of the central nave.  A local artist named Ludwig Juppe carved the center sections and Johann von der Leyten painted the side panels (wings) between 1509 and 1514. Okay, we admit that we am stunned by the age of these works of architecture and art. And they are beautiful.

The colors in this were breathtaking
A large altar dedicated to Mary. The bottom section is a pieta.
Close up of the pieta

Life of John the Baptist - beheaded at right

Birth of the Baptist

Life of St Elizabeth

The "French" Elizabeth (ca. 1470)
The choir (used by the choir and clergy between the nave and the high altar -- we're learning Gothic church architecture here) contains spectacular 13th and 14th century stained glass windows. It also contains 54 original 13th century oak choir stalls used by the Knights of the Teutonic Order. The high altar was made of sandstone in 1290 and is painted in original colors.

Scenes of the creation and the Garden of Eden
The high altar (1290)
Elder Kirk considering joining the Teutonic Order. Sitting on an 800 year old bench is pretty cool.

Looking back toward the nave from the choir. The screen in between is called the rood. 

In Pt. 2 we'll move on to the Landgraves' Castle and the town. But think about this incredible monument built in stone 700 years ago. This was a massive public work, but it was also a labor of faith and determination. And someone had a vision of what this great edifice would be. There is a story that is told that goes as follows:

A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!”

We are here to fill a role, but we want to build a cathedral. One of the senior missionaries talked today about the great desire he has to lead people to joy and happiness as members of the Church of Jesus Christ. But then he quoted Alma, who expressed this wish, "O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!"

But then he concluded the following: "But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me."

We are supremely happy to play whatever role the Lord has for us here and pray to know what He would have us do.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing and beautiful. I'm sure the pictures don't do it justice, which makes it all even more amazing.