|The church soars from the center of town|
|St Wendel's sarcophagus|
|The colors are magnificent!|
When you live in Germany, and especially if you live near the French border, you have to expect that things are never as they seem. Sometimes France was in Germany, or Germany was in France. Sometimes the territory was Dutch or the Swedes owned the area.
I often joke with a German friend that Germany is younger than the United States and he points to the castles that are hundreds of years old, or the remains of the Roman bulwarks. “No,” he says in English, “Germany is much older than the U.S.”
I say, Baloney. Without the political acumen of Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), better known to us as simply Otto von Bismarck, the Germans would still be quarreling over who brews the best beer….wait a minute, they still do that. Anyway, Germany hasn’t been Germany for all that long.
Take the city of St Wendel, for example. In the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672 – 1697) the area was owned by one nationality, then another, none of which were German! Hey, the Spanish owned the territory, too. In the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the town was all but demolished. Then there was the War of Polish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years’ War.
Then you can move on into the French Revolutionary Wars, the Franco Prussian War, and the wars of the 20th Century, when the French-Germany border waved like a flag in a hurricane. Look around. The names of the towns are French…no, I mean German….no, wait a sec….and don’t get me started on the Bavarians who still think they’re a separate kingdom. The Bavarians don’t even greet each other with ‘Guten Morgen,’ like most of the rest of Germany. All you hear is ‘Guss Gott.’
But, let’s get back to St Wendel and the magnificent Catholic Church, which rises from the heart of the city and dominates the lesser buildings of the town. They say parts of the church were built over the cave where the hermit-saint lived and died. Could be true. They say the bones in the ornate sarcophagus belong to St Wendel. That also could be true. The last time the public viewed those bones was a few years ago during a Papal visit. I don’t think the crowd pulled out a CSI kit at the time. Better not to know, I guess.
Understand I’m not hating on Catholicism. The Roman Catholics are by far the largest Christian denomination and they put others to shame in bringing the glory of God to earth in the soaring majesty of their churches and cathedrals. How the huge pillars, and rich colors of those colossal stone edifices must have awed the peasants. I know I was awed.
The St Wendel Church is magnificent! Soaring ceilings, with stonework that curves and turns. Pillars that rise from the earth. Ornate stained glass. Christian or not, you can’t help but stand and stare, trying to take in the colors, the designs, the centuries of work in crafting such an edifice.
When you exit the church, be sure to turn and look up at the brick and stonework. When you do, notice the scars from bullets and bombs. Time has not stood still in St Wendel, and yet the church and the town have withstood all of time’s trials and tests.