Friday, 30 March 2018

kreuzweg oder via dolorosa

Taking advantage of the fine weather, H and I rumbled about on the scenic Hochrhönstraße that’s a stretch of road that forms one of the few connections through the biosphere reserve, linking moor and mountain and on the return trip stopped in the village of Nordheim, near Fladungen.
Just outside of the village on a high hill is the Chapel of Saint Sebastian—dedicated in 1670 and then deconcentrated in 1804 with the secularization of church property by the Kingdom of Bavaria, though thankfully the chapel’s ensemble remained intact.
At the base of the hill there was a Marian Grotto (Mariengrotto, a shrine) and then the footpath up the slope was line with a series of bas relief sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross.

The weather has been fair and there are signs of Spring (some activity we were afraid came prematurely before the last cold snaps) but it struck me that the only green on the great old trees lining the path was from mistletoe (Mistel) and I wondered if the plant that many consider just a parasite might not be more of a partner in regulating seasonal cycles.
The chapel, dedicated to saint and martyr Sebastian, featured him prominently in his most familiar iconographic form—though he survived that volley of arrows with the interdiction of Saint Irene only to be clubbed to death by Emperor Diocletian’s henchmen during the purges of the Christians for not being accommodating and succumbing to their first attack.
Everything was vibrant and expressive and one has to wonder how such visual brilliance might be the only exposure that the common person had to fuel their imagination and limn their artistic horizons in a world that was certainly not bleak or colourless but for whom art and artifice were rarer things.   It was also significantly colder inside the chapel than it was outside, for whatever reason, with our breath visible.
There’s also a shrine dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua (Hl. Antonius von Padua) who is the patron of swineherds, bakers, social-workers, mine-workers and travellers as well as who to turn to to remedy infertility, match-making and lost things plus reputed to have once preached to a school of fish. It was certainly an impressive place to discover and we cannot wait to happen upon more local treasures.