Friday Shuffle - 800 Years Edition
I love Magdeburg's cathedral. It sits in the middle of the city and Magdeburg is so flat that regardless of what direction you enter the city you can see it.
Today at the cathedral was the beginning of months of scheduled celebrations to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone. On the same spot was originally an abbey built of wood which later became the city's cathedral but it was destroyed in a fire in 1207. Two years later in 1209 they began to rebuild the cathedral and it took about 300 years to complete.
In the summer when it's horribly hot outside it's lovely to go into the cathedral. The walls are all thick stone and it's always cool inside and I always feel comforted when I'm there, regardless of the time of year. There's a new pipe organ - the original had been completely destroyed during the 1945 bombing of Magdeburg - that's absolutely gorgeous. The baptismal font is huge - I understand it likely was originally to be a fountain or was a fountain - and is said to be thousands of years old. In one corner of the cathedral is an Ehrenmal - an honor memorial - that depicts the sadness and misery of war and candles for peace are lit at its base. The graves of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I and his first wife, Editha are there. And one of my favorite things at the cathedral is outside of the north entrance to the transept - the sculptures of the ten virgins from the Bible - five wise virgins who are smiling and happy because they brought their lamp oil to the wedding and five foolish virgins who are miserable and crying because they didn't bring their oil and have to miss the wedding feast. Their expressions are so compelling and I could study them for hours.
Over the centuries the cathedral has seen many changes and uses. Originally it was a Catholic cathedral but years after Martin Luther preached at other churches in Magdeburg, the priests at the cathedral coverted to Protestantism and it's still a Protestant cathedral. During the Thirty Years War the virtually only survivors of the slaughter of Magdeburg in 1631 were the the 4000 people who hid out in the cathedral and survived because the head priest of the cathedral, on his knees, begged General Tilly for the people to be spared. For a while the cathedral was used as a fortress and even for a time as a horse barn and sheep pen. It's been looted, had all it's windows smashed, been bombed and caught on fire, but 800 years after its construction began, it's still there. The renovation and repair of the cathedral is almost unending. I moved to Magdeburg in late 1997 and it wasn't until a couple months ago that I had ever seen the cathedral without one or the other of its towers covered in scaffolding.
And its bells. They're named Susanne, Apostolica and Dominica. I love their voices and if I happen to be close enough at noontime to hear them ring I pause what I'm doing until they stop.
During the time that Magdeburg was part of East Germany, most people here weren't religious but it never stopped the cathedral from being the heart of the city. It was a natural meeting place for folks to gather in 1989 to begin the Monday protest marches that were so instrumental in the demise of communism in East Germany. I think for a lot of people in Magdeburg the cathedral is their favorite building in the city and when they've been away for a while they get a feeling of being home again when they can see its towers in the distance. Even when I am in my flat I like to stand out on my balcony and look southward and see the cathedral. It gives me a feeling of being home even though my home is really thousands of miles away.
- Here In The Real World - Alan Jackson
- Morning Star - Blackmore's Night
- There Are No Goodbyes - Sophia
- I Want You Now - The Feeling
- I Wanna - The All-American Rejects
- Spring Released - Grant-Lee Phillips
- In The Mood - Glenn Miller Orchestra
- Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel
- You Wanted More - Tonic
- Spanish Flea - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass