Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lubeck Cathedral

Lubeck is in northern Germany, just off the Baltic Sea, and is located in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. It has one of the major seaports of Germany. For several centuries it was the capital of the Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchants and market towns that were involved in trade in Northern Europe from the 13th to 17th centuries. The Hanseatic League was created to protect economic interests along the trade routes used by merchants and included cities such as London, Antwerp, Bruges, Cologne, Riga, Krakow, Danzig (now Gdansk), Frankfort, Berlin, Stockholm and Hamburg. The old part of Lubeck is on an island enclosed by the Tave, a river which is connected to the Elbe River by a canal, and it is full of beautiful old buildings and magnificent churches. 

One of the beautiful churches in old Lubeck is the distinctive red brick Lubeck Cathedral. 
Lubeck Cathedral

Construction of the cathedral was started in 1173 and completed in about 1230. Then the cathedral was transformed from a Romanesque style building to a Gothic style building between 1266 and 1335. During World War II, bombs dropped near the cathedral on March 28 to 29, 1942 and a large part of the cathedral was destroyed, including the two towers. 
Bombed Lubeck Cathedral (from Wikipedia)
However, a goodly portion of the religious symbols inside were saved, including a 56 foot tall crucifix built in 1477 

and many medieval polyptychs (paintings divided into sections or panels). 

Undergoing restoration.
The same man who built the crucifix, also built the rood screen, 
an ornate partition between the chancel and nave. After several decades of work, beginning in 1947, the church was completely rebuilt by 1982. 

It is associated with a wonderful legend. In the 700s, Charlemagne was hunting in Saxony, a German state to the southwest, and captured a large deer. He laid a gold chain on the deer's antlers and then let it go. 400 years later, in the 1100s, Henry the Lion, the founder of Lubeck, was out hunting. He wanted to build a church in Lubeck, to house the bishop's seat which had been transferred from Oldenburg, but lacked the funds. As he was contemplating this, a large deer with a diamond-encrusted crucifix in its antlers stood before him and he shot it. After taking the cross from the antlers, the deer rose up and ran away. This raises all sorts of wonderful questions, like how did the gold chain transform into a diamond crucifix, or perhaps Charlemagne's 5th great grandson captured a deer and tried to outdo his ancestor. Whatever the process was, Henry used the crucifix for funds to build the church. A large statue of a lion, the symbol of Henry the Lion, stands outside the church. I think it would be fun to add a deer as well. 
One of the early bishops of Lubeck Cathedral, Heinrich Bochholt, who acted from 1317 to 1341, 
has a beautiful bronze sarcophagus in his likeness, 
Heinrch Bochholt, Bishop from 1317 to 1341
with lions at his feet, placed in a simple room. 
It is quite a magnificent setting for a burial. 

As mentioned earlier, Henry the Lion moved the seat of the diocese to Lubeck from Oldenburg in 1160. In 1531, Lubeck turned Protestant, as part of the Protestant Reformation, and the Bishop did not attempt to fight it. It has been Lutheran ever since. It was part of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church until earlier this year, when it joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany. 

Modern stained glass window
Organ pipes
Baptismal font


1 comment:

  1. I love the blend of ancient and modern in this church. Also, I just can't help but think of Aslan every time I see a lion statue.