Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Heilig-Geist-Kirche (Church of the Holy Ghost) in Munich; the original building dates from the 14th century but it has undergone changes, renovation and after severe bomb damage in World War II restoration.

You could be forgiven for thinking these photos are outtakes from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds or that a flock of errant doves had found their way out of Marienplatz and into Munich's Heilig-Geist-Kirche. But it turns out it was only the parish's way of celebrating the Feast of Pentecost (Pfingsten) and the descent of the Holy Spirit.

However it wasn't the only "modern" touch amidst the splendors of the Brothers Asam's rococo decorations; I was struck by the simple design of the very modern pulpit.  Though it is a stark contrast to much of the decorations, in my opinion it neither jars nor clashes with the ornate plaster, gilt and 17th century images.

The seated Christ figure surrounded by the grapes of the Eucharist seems to be relating a parable to the assemble congregation.  A dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, hovers above on the tester or canopy and God the Father and the Four Evangelists are on the back panel - the Trinity guiding and hopefully inspiring the preacher.

The Four Evangelists with their respective iconography reappear on the railing of the stairs leading into the pulpit.  Perhaps a reminder to a preacher as he climbed up to delivery his sermon of the source of his message.

The eagle of St John the Evangelist is said to represent the more spiritual aspect
of his gospel.  In it the Ascension and the divinity of Christ are emphasized.  It
was believed the eagle could fly into the sun without flinching from its brightness.

An angel gives divine inspiration to St Mathew, the first gospel writer.  His words
begin with the genealogy and birth of Jesus and emphasis his human nature.

The lion of St Mark has many meanings in Christian iconography.  It was believed
that lions were born dead and came to life in three days and that they slept with
their eyes open - ever watchful.  And of course they were the King of beasts.

As well as the Gospel attributed to him St Luke is said to be the author of the
Acts of the Apostles.  The bull represents sacrifice - the sacrifice of Jesus
and the sacrifice expected of all Christians.

I haven't been able to find out much about the history of this pulpit - who carved it and when it was dedicated nor can I identify the wood.  If anyone knows anything about it I'd be glad to have the information.

June 15 - 1520:  Pope Leo X threatens to excommunicate Martin Luther in the papal bull Exsurge Domine.


Anonymous said...

Loved the doves! But my next thought was "How long did it take to get all those mobiles up there?"


yvette said...

And how long will the doves stay up there...a chance to see them in July? thanks for this extraordinary vision...