(photo above courtesy of my collections of postcards from about 15 years ago.)
Can a building really mean so much? The heart of a city is a big shoe to fill. The feelings are certainly there when you walk through St. Sebald which is the oldest parish church in Nuremberg, Germany.
I have walked through this church as a little child, teenager, young adult, and now dare I say middle age. The feeling this time can only be described like walking on holy ground. Many churches throughout Eastern and Western Europe were destroyed during WWII. Many churches throughout the continent emulates monuments to reconciliation now.
St Sebald (above photo is his tomb)suffered almost complete destruction. I was struck with the amount of damage when I saw photography dated to 1945 (see below). The beginning of the end must have felt so surreal to the ordinary individual when they walked to the northern half of the city beneath the castle and saw devastation.
Originally a Catholic church dating back to 1256, one notices the characteristics throughout of meticulous architecture. It has two choirs and a double tower facade. This was not the usual for a city parish, but more like a cathedral. The pillars inside form the main features one’s eyes will immediately gaze toward. They are made of concrete.
Obviously, the war caused pause for the church although it was rebuilt . The story is not that easy for sure as all the churches that date back so old have been under construction at different times to improve, fix, or add onto. There seems to be mention that the people of Nuremberg were the major source of financing however for St. Sebald. This was indeed the peoples’ church. The above photo is a newer organ in the East Choir with small figures from the old one dated 1444.
St. Sebald was an actual person. He was described as being a recluse in the writings I noticed. He was canonized by the pope a saint in 1425. He was more than likely a part of the reformed movement of the 11th century which looked to free themselves from monarchy ties. Sebald means brave in Latin. Although he lived a life as a hermit, he was looked upon as the lead of the church in his time.
The city of Nuremberg converted to Protestantism in 1525. My own family was Catholic and Lutheran. It was my Oma that raised the family more in her way of thinking which was Calvinism from her Swiss roots. Eventually this led to going to the Lutheran church. Today St. Sebald church is a place dedicated to peace and human rights. The above photo shows tourist groups on an educational visit to St. Sebald. They are standing on the right near the church and if you look toward the tree, you will see children visiting the city as part of their last day of school.
The photo above I took from the Salian castle showing the city beneath it. Roof tops of many buildings show how densely built up Nuremberg is by the surrounding borders of the castle itself.
How can one describe the art within the confines of a church? Maybe this one photo I took will do such a thing as the photo is so real to me that I wanted to wipe away the blood the artist painted so realistically on Christ’s head of thorns.