Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Heart of Catholic Germany (Part I)

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Germany city of Fulda. Fulda, although being a rather smallish town in Eastern Hesse, is considered the heart of Catholic Germany, because here, in the abbey which was founded at his behest in 744 AD, is the tomb of Germany's Apsotle, St. Boniface. It is here that the German Bishops gather every year for their conference, as they have done since 1867 - in fact they are doing so at this moment. Even before the abbey of Fulda was raised to to the rank of a bishopric (5 Oct., 1752, for the history cf. here), a magnificent new abbey church was erected under Prince Abbot Adalbert von Schleifras by one of the most important German baroque architects, Johann Dientzenhofer, between 1704 and 1712, which today serves as the Cathedral of Fulda.

The majestic façade:

The interior:

The high altar:

As you can see above, the altar piece proper - the Assumption of Our Lady - is depicted in the tympanum, leaving unimpeded the view into the monks' choir behind it. Here is a close-up of the Assumption:

The bishop's throne:

At the pillar of the entrance to the sanctuary, there is a copy of the statue of St. Peter which is venerated in the Vatican Basilica and was given to Fulda by Pope Leo XIII:

The altar of the epistle side transept is dedicated to St. Sturmius, disciple of St. Boniface and actual founder of Fulda abbey:

And the altar of the Gospel side transept to St Benedict (Fulda abbey was a Benedictine monastery):

And now we come to the actual tomb of St. Boniface, which is in the crypt underneath the high choir:

Some other interesting details. A view of the nave and the organ:

Detail of one of the Apostles' statues:

A cupola in one of the side aisles:

The tomb of the great former bishop of Fulda, Archbishop Johannes Dyba, who died ten years ago and is still very much missed:

A commemorative plaque dedicated to Pope Pius XII who, as Apostolic Nuncio, offered Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the cathedral on the Feast of St. Boniface in 1926:

There is an excellent virtual tour of the Cathedral available here.

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