Wednesday, 12 May 2010
A Bavarian Parish Church
A weekday lunchtime. A young man prays in the church of Mariä Himmelfahrt - or, as we would say, Our Lady of the Assumption - in the small spa town of Bad Aibling, Bavaria. We were spending a few days there as part of a touring holiday of Gemany.
Set within this grandeur - to which the photograph does not do justice - there is a modest-sized free-standing altar, fully draped, and a fairly inconspicuous lectern. Not undignified, but rather overwhelmed by the splendour that surrounds them.
Suspended several feet above the North wall, a huge and apparently unused pulpit looms over the pews.
From time to time, Catholic bloggers post pictures of the continental churches they have visited; and the churches are usually very splendid and gleaming. The beauty of this church remained intact; but it reminded me of one of those television programmes about the rescue of fine old houses, whose owners are now in reduced circumstances. They seem to make shift as best they can in these well-loved homes, filled with the ghosts of past glories. It is as though they are camping amid the memories of what once was.
That is the impression I received in this fine old church. Above all, however, I felt completely at home there. Like every other Catholic church I have known, whether a glorious basilica or a humble Nissen hut, it had that unique warmth of the Presence.