Thursday, 6 July 2017

afternoon drive: saint goar

In honour of the patron saint of vine-growers, potters and innkeepers—the hermit and (another) reluctant clergyman Goar of Aquitaine, I took a drive just around the corner to the Rhine Gorge to again explore namesake village, Sankt Goar am Rhein. Charlemagne ordered the construction of church at the site of the cave where Goar dwelt (the hermitage) during Frankish times and a settlement grew up around it. The sister-city on the opposite shore of the Rhein, Sankt Goarhausen, is also named for the saint.  The present church on the site is in the Gothic Revival style and was completed in 1891 but still incorporating ancient elements. Although given permission to preach to the locals and pursue the uncomplicated life of a hospitable recluse, his reputation as a charismatic and wonder-worker kept the bishopric of Trier interested in retaining his talents. Not wanting to have the responsibilities and pressures of being a bishop, Goar prayed to be excused from the commitment and succumbed the next day to a sudden and violent fever that relieved him of his mortal coil. The old town was quite impressive and steeped in history and the monumental ruins of Burg Rheinfels that dominates the village looked incredible and will certainly bear out further investigations and new vistas.  I am very happy that I made my little pilgrimage but was a bit disappointed that the throngs of tourists were oblivious to the holiday and the doors of the church were not even open.  I felt privileged, like the day and its commemoration was my secret with the saint.