Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Church for all Reasons

Einhard's Basilica in Seligenstadt is not just a noticeable building. It is truly a church used for all occasions. While we were staying with our friends/relatives in Germany they were invited to a baptism in the basilica and we were asked to come along as special guests. No, not “special” really. That appellative was reserved for the little girl being baptized.

The Bible reading for the ceremony was Luke 10: 30 -37, – the parable of the good Samaritan. (Or should I write, “Lukas 10: 30-37, - der barmherzige Samariter”?) A strange reading, you might say, and I thought so too initially. Then the priest gave his address based on the same reading. The line he took was unusual (to me at least). He portrayed Jesus as the good Samaritan. Which is interesting for the Jews in Jerusalem once “accused” Jesus of being a Samaritan.
“The Jews replied, “are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and possessed by a devil'?” John 8:48-49. Jesus answered, “I am not possessed; no, I honour my Father but you want to dishonour me.” I note here that Jesus did not deny that he was a Samaritan, but rather that he was not possessed by a devil.

Anyway, the Priest pointed out how a despised Jesus goes out of his way to help us when we are hurt and abandoned by others; how he is a cure for our pains; how he takes us to a safe place where we are healed and he himself pays for all this; no cost to us. Interesting parallel you may say, but what has that to do with baptism? Well, the little girl being baptized was starting out on life's journey where she will encounted various kinds of brigands, but she can be assured that the good Samaritan will always be there to care for her. Then it was off, throught the old town of half-timbered houses, to the other celebration of cofee and Kuchen... and Kuchen... and....
My photo shows an old beauty from 1596 – the “Einhardhaus”. Seems as though Einhard is everywhere in Seligenstadt!
As we were leaving the church guests were arriving for a wedding which was to take place shortly afterwards. This old basilica is not only a tourist attraction but is the focal point of the busy parish of St Marcellinus and Petrus, Seligenstadt. Marcellinus and Petrus, now there is another story. They were two Christian martyrs from the fourth century persecutions in Rome. By some devious means Einhard brought their relics from Rome in 828 and advertised them as a feature of his recently-build pilgrimage church. Today these relics are interred under the main altar of the basilica and these two martrys remain the patron saints of the town.

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