“Tree of God”

5 JAN 2017

At the Pont Royal (Royal Bridge), I took a photo of Église Réformée Saint-Paul. St. Paul’s was built in the middle 1890s as a Gothic Revival building for Lutheran members of the Imperial German garrison that were stationed there. You see, the Franco-Prussian War saw Strasbourg become Straßburg after the area had been annexed by the newly established German Empire. The entire Alsace area has a fascinating history concerning that depending upon the year you are looking at, the region may have been French or German.

We continued down Quai des Pêcheurs, crossed over la Rivière L’ill (the Ill River) by way of the Pont St. Guillaum, down Rue Saint-Etienne, left on Rue des Frères, left on Place de la Cathédrale, et voilà! There stands the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. It can be seen from Germany’s Black Forest across the Rhine and has been described by the famous German writer and statesman, and guest of the château in which we now reside, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as a “sublimely towering, wide-spreading tree of God.” Goethe’s comment could not be more apt in that the church was once the world’s tallest building for 227 years. A monolith that stands as a testament to the ingenuity of man in worship of his God. The tower stands 142 meters (466 feet) tall.

These holy, man-made caverns of detailed craftsmanship echo with the hushed whispers of visitors. Dark corners belie the warm glow of altars, candlelight, and paintings on the wall. The weight of history fills the air. Bishop Werner von Habsburg set in place the first stone of this grand monument 1,002 years ago in 1015. Knowing that this building has stood in this place for over a millennium certainly inspires you to imagine all of that which must have passed around it and within. Empires have been born, fought, and died all around its walls. And all that while, the sun rose each morning and shined its light through the stained glass windows.

This was just a brief visit today. I will surely be back soon to explore it further.


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