Tag Archives: Cologne

The Brightness of God

The brightness of God illumined the holy city Jerusalem,
and the nations will walk by its light.
Cf. Bar. 5:5

A Christmas crib in Cologne, Germany.

A Christmas crib in Cologne, Germany.

There are many wonderful traditions associated with Epiphany. Saint John Cantius in Chicago gathers them here.

Saint Ephrem the Syrian sings of the star and of John the Baptist:

In the Height and the Depth the Son had two heralds.— The star of light proclaimed Him from above—John likewise preached Him from beneath:— two heralds, the earthly and the heavenly.

The star of light, contrary to nature, shone forth of a sudden—less than the sun yet greater than the sun.— Less was it than he in manifest light— and greater than he in secret might because of its mystery.

The star of light shed its rays among them that were in darkness—and guided them as though they were blind—so that they came and met the great Light:— they gave offerings and received life and adored and departed.

From the Prayer after Communion on Epiphany:
Renewed by sacred nourishment, we implore your mercy, O Lord,
that the star of your justice may shine always bright in our minds
and that our true treasure may ever consist in our confession of you.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Solemnity of Epiphany

On the twelfth day of Christmastide, January 6th, the church celebrates the ancient Solemnity of Epiphany, although in the United States the Solemnity is transferred to the weekend. We commemorate the visit of the kings to Jesus thus this is a moment of revelation to the Gentiles.

Over the next three days I will share pictures I took two years ago of the Cologne cathedral which houses the relics of the kings, as well as hymns that are associated with this solemnity.

Arise, Jerusalem, and look to the East
and see your children gathered from the rising to the setting of the sun.

The reliquary of the three kings, in the Cologne Cathedral.

The reliquary of the three kings, in the Cologne Cathedral.

May the splendor of your majesty, O Lord, we pray,
shed its light upon our hearts,
that we may pass through the shadows of this world
and reach the brightness of our eternal home.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

From the Facebook page of Musei Italiani. This fresco is from the Oratory of San Pellegrino in Bominaco, Italy.

From the Facebook page of Musei Italiani. This fresco is from the Oratory of San Pellegrino in Abruzzo, Italy.

Tuesday of Holy Week

From Great Saint Martin church in Cologne.

Second Song of the Suffering Servant
Hear me, coastlands, listen, distant peoples.
Before birth the LORD called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword, concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow, in his quiver he hid me.

He said to me, You are my servant, in you, Israel, I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength!

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Is. 492:1-6

Happy New Year

Happy new year! May the Lord bless you!

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.”
Numbers 6:22-27

From Cologne Cathedral

From Cologne Cathedral

We Praise You O God

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

O GOD, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth doth worship Thee.

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.

Read the rest of the Te Deum, traditionally recited on New Year’s Eve, as well as various times during the Liturgy of the Hours.

O Magnum Mysterium

During the 12 days of Christmas, we commemorate the great mystery, the Magnum Mysterium. The O Magnum Mysterium is a sublime chant that through the centuries many composers have set to music because indeed it speaks about the the mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the seasons is spoken of so beautifully in this sublime text.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

 

The Cathedral in the City

This evening [last December] I attended Vespers and Benediction. I am stunned over the attendance. This evening was my third liturgical event in the Cathedral and my thoughts turned to my mother. She was with me in the summer of 1988 when she first saw the Cologne Cathedral. It was emotional for her because it was one of the last things her mother saw when she left Germany as a young teenager in the 1890s. My mother said her mother would tell her how beautiful it was and one day she would see the Cathedral. At these liturgical services I was thinking that my grandmother worshipped here since she lived in Cologne. I would look at the arches and art work and altars and think my grandmother looked at these same arches and art work and altars. Then thought how wonderful it would be if my grandmother could walk the streets of Cologne with me, knowing her love for her city.

As I was walking to my final reconstructed church I thought I wished my grandmother could be here to tell me what it was like when she saw them as a child. She could tell me the crucifix on the south wall of the church used to be on the rood screen and many other stories of the art salvaged from the wreckage

Gothic altar.

In my daydreaming I suddenly remembered that my mother said her mother always wanted to go back to Germany for a visit but after the war lost all desire do so. I never understood that but walking in the very small old city visiting all the Romanesque churches and looking at the pictures of before and after the bombings I understood. The city of her childhood that she loved had been reduced to rubble. Her Cologne no longer existed. I look at pictures of Cologne from 1875, the year of her birth, and yes it no longer exists. A modern city has emerged. Yet those churches so painstakingly reconstructed are an anchor in the past.


 

O Magnum Mysterium

During the 12 days of Christmas, we commemorate the great mystery, the Magnum Mysterium. The O Magnum Mysterium is a sublime chant that through the centuries many composers have set to music because indeed it speaks about the the mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the seasons is spoken of so beautifully in this sublime text.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

The Sight of Cologne Cathedral

When the train crossed the river I saw the cathedral. It was thrilling. I saw it with my mother in 1990 and she reminded me that it was one of the last things her mother saw when she left Germany as a late teenager in 1895. My grandmother had a great love for the cathedral of the city where she spent most of her early childhood and life. The cathedral was spared major damage during the bombings. However the photos are very haunting in that only the cathedral stands in a city reduced to a rubble of stones.

O Magnum Mysterium

During the 12 days of Christmas, we commemorate the great mystery, the Magnum Mysterium. The O Magnum Mysterium is a sublime chant that through the centuries many composers have set to music because indeed it speaks about the the mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the seasons is spoken of so beautifully in this sublime text.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

 

Aposteln and Saint Agnes


Aposteln is one of the 12 Romanesque churches in the old city of Cologne that suffered from the bombings. I always like to look at the photos to appreciate the marvel of what had been undertaken to preserve these churches which are a vital part of our catholic patrimony.

    

Apse, after bombing

Tower, after bombing.

Tower, after bombing.7

When I look at the photos I think most people would say “bulldoze it down” but I thank the Lord for those talented architects and everyone who made a commitment to preserve our heritage so that the worship of God may continue for years to come.

 

Altarpiece

Altarpiece

I am awestruck by the decades of research and patience that went into reconstruction to preserve the original form and salvage as much as possible in the process and then to place the art in such a way that it feeds the spirit.

These saints at Aposteln are from the 14th century.

Cologne-130518 Cologne-130545

     

When I left the Aposteln church, I keep thinking about the canopy above the altar. With the art salvaged from the devastation of the bombing and set so beautifully in an austere setting, this canopy seemed jolting to me. I did not find myself attracted to it however it continued to be fixed in my mind’s imagination.

Later in the evening I attended a concert with a brass ensemble and organ. The church is a wonderful setting for such a concert of works by Purcell, Gabrieli, and Couperin. Since it was New Year’s Eve I was hoping that I would hear the Te Deum, that superb hymn of thanksgiving from the Catholic tradition. I was overjoyed when I saw that Jean Langlais Hymne d’Action de Grace, “Te Deum” would be performed. The image was right in front of me. The music was so powerful that all of a sudden the image appeared to be a powerful living presence. I continued to ponder that image of the Holy Spirit. I have seen so many churches in Cologne that were devastated by the bombings and in those bombings so much human life and priceless artistic treasures perished.

And earlier in the day along the river bank I had seen this sculpture that I found startling. It looked like a bird but also like a plane laden with destruction.

Yet the image above the altar that seemed so alien to me at first captured my imagination and spoke to me: From the rubble, ancient churches arise anew. What an incredible message of hope. Evil cannot diminish the power of God to bring about something new and unexpected snd beautiful. That is a gift for which my soul can sing: Te Deum, We praise you O God!

 

Saint Agnes

Saint Agnes is a Neo-Gothic church in Cologne. This is the Saint Agnes website.

t
Cologne-210548

O Magnum Mysterium

During the 12 days of Christmas, we commemorate the great mystery, the Magnum Mysterium. The O Magnum Mysterium is a sublime chant that through the centuries many composers have set to music because indeed it speaks about the the mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the seasons is spoken of so beautifully in this sublime text.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

Our Lady of Peace Monastery, and Saint Pantaleon

Our Lady of Peace

Besides venerating the tomb of Saint Albert the Great I also wanted to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Peace monastery. This is where Saint Doctor Edith Stein received the habit as a novice in April 1934. In 1938 she and her sister Rosa were sent to Echt in the Netherlands however in 1942 she was sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas chamber on the 9th of August of that year.
        Cologne-121624

Stumbling Stone in memory of Saint Edith Stein

Saint Pantaleon’s Church

This church is from the 10th century and is dedicated to Cosmos and Damien and is the oldest church dedicated to Saint Pantaleon west of Byzantium. When Prussia occupied Cologne it 1815 it became a Protestant church but in 1922 it became Catholic again. It suffered from the bombings as well.

Interior looking to apse.

So much precious art perished in the bombings but what was salvaged is so lovingly displayed with deep devotion.

      Cologne-123607

 

    

Reliquary

The Altar

The Altar

Follow the star to Pantaleon

Children at Pantaleon. They followed the star.

 

The apse after bombing.

Western wall after bombing.


This afternoon [last December] I attended a concert at Saint Pantaleon. The performer was Tom Daun who is very intetested in historical and folkloric harp music. He entitled his concert, Vom Himmel Hoch. From heaven on high I came to earth.  He took all the medieval German carols I have heard in the streets and in the churches and presented them in a very creative way. I was enthralled by the afternoon along with everyone else who packed the church.

O Magnum Mysterium

During the 12 days of Christmas, we commemorate the great mystery, the Magnum Mysterium. The O Magnum Mysterium is a sublime chant that through the centuries many composers have set to music because indeed it speaks about the the mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the seasons is spoken of so beautifully in this sublime text.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!