Samstag, 31. Januar 2009

Alle Tischendorfs Schriftensarbeit sollen digitalisiert werden beim Monch

Friedrich Konstantin von Tischendorf was born in 1815 in Saxony. In 1834 he traveled to Leipzig to study theology where he established himself in the field of New Testament textual criticism.

In 1838 he finished his PhD and in 1839 began traveling the world in search of "lost" and forgotten New Testament manuscripts in order to "to clear up in this way, " he wrote, "the history of the sacred text, and to recover if possible the genuine apostolic text which is the foundation of our faith." In a career reminiscent of Indiana Jones, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Near and Middle East.

In 1840 he was appointed chair for Theology at Leipzig. The same year he translated the Codex Ephraemi Syri which no scholar had been able to decipher.

Much of his travel was supported financially by the Saxon and Russian governments. In fact, Tischendorf was made a Count of the Russian Empire. He edited and published many of the works he found.

In 1844 he visited Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai for the first time. This was a unique period in time where wealthy Europeans were at liberty to poke around and explore the hidden corners of the Middle East, a fact which still incites much jealousy in me. His curiosity led him serendipitously to a trash heap where he discovered several pages of what was then oldest known copy of the Septuagint.

These pages were archived at the University of Leipzig. On his third visit many years later he discovered the remainder of the text. It contained the New Testament, part of the Old Testament, and other early writings. This was the famous Codex Sinaiticus- the oldest known manuscript of the Greek Bible.

Among many other academic contributions, the crowning acheivement of his career was his 8th edition of the Codex Sinaiticus which included extensive critical notes and analysis. He labored on the text from 1865 - 1872. It remains a standard tool of reference for Biblical Greek studies in the West. In the Christian East it is well respected although not the final authority on textual questions.

One of Tischenforf's descendants, Klaus Zehnder-Tischendorf, maintains a website dedicated to him here.

What makes Tischendorf pertinent on this blog? In addition to being the nexus of German and Russian Christianity, Tischendorf's work will be discussed by priest-monk Justin Sinaites from Saint Catherine's Monastery.

Fr. Justin is an Orthodox Christian monk who was born in Texas but is now serving as the librarian at St. Catherine's Monastery where he is preserving and digitizing ancient manuscripts. He is one of several scholars working on the Codex Sinaiticus project. Fr. Justin's presentation is entitled "The Sinai Codex Theodosianus: Manuscript as Icon". It will be held Wednesday, February 4 in Denton, Texas.

Donnerstag, 29. Januar 2009

St. Gall (d. 646)

As a Companion of the great Columban, thou didst travel throughout the lands of the Franks, O Father Gall, thy ascetic life contrasting with that of the worldly prelates whom thou didst encounter. Open to us, we pray thee, the treasures of sacrifice and struggle, that we too may attain the joy of eternal salvation. -Troparion of St Gall Tone 8

St. Gall was born in Ireland and was sent by his parents to be educated at the famous monastery of Bangor. He was ordained with the name Gall (possibly a Latin form of the gaelic gall, meaning “foreigner”) St. Gall was chosen together with eleven other monks to accompany St. Columban (not to be confused with St. Columba or Columcille of Iona) on a missionary venture to Gaul.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Gall departed for the Continent after his ordination in Ireland. On the other hand, a Russian Orthodox Church Abroad site says “the group traveled first to England and then and then, about the year 585, they crossed the channel.”

It must be pointed out that at this time, there was no England, but rather post-Arthurian British cheifdoms facing the encroachment of newly established Saxon territories. If Gall and his colleagues were in fact on the island at this time, they would have arrived about a decade after the death of St. Gildas (c. 570) and a mere generation after the legendary Battle of Camlann (as described in the Annales Cambriae) and the estimated death of Arthur (c. 542).

In 585, they founded a monastic community in the Vosges Mountains with support and kindness of the local Frankish chieftain. Five years later Columban, together with Gall, founded the famous monastery at Luxeuil, a former spa that had been plundered by the Huns.

They oversaw the growth of the Luxeuil community for over twenty years until persecution drove Columbanus further into the Continent. Gall travelled the Rhine as far as Bregenz, where he fell severely ill and was unable to follow Columbanus further. Gall remained in the region of Swabia (Schwaben, Schwabenland). The Swabian region covered parts of modern Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, German-speaking Switzerland, and parts of France. For his inability to fulfill obedience, Gall was forbidden to celebrate the Divine Liturgy as long as Columban was still alive. St. Columban went on to found the famous Bobbio Monastery.

After Gall recovered he moved to what is now Saint-Gall further west along Lake of Constance. Gifted in language (which may have been a reason he was chosen as a missionary), he learned the local Alemanni dialect and converted so many pagans he was known as the Apostle of Constance.

Tradition says St. Gall was miraculously informed of the death of St. Columban. A monk was then sent to Italy to and returned with the confirmation of St. Columban's repose. A letter from the Bobbio monks explained that Columban’s dying request was that Gall would inherit his abbot's staff. St. Gall wept abundantly. Not only had he been obedient by not celebrating the Divine Liturgy, but he had refused offers to become bishop. St. Gall then resumed the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. He spent most of his time in his cell, leaving it only to preach the Gospel and to instruct his humble flock.

Tradition also says a bear would visit him and bring wood to feed the fire which Gall and his companions had kindled in the forest. Even today a bear is represented on the town flag of St. Gall as the symbol of the Saint.

St. Gall died on the of October 16th, 646 at an old age. He left behind a Christianized Alemanni nation. After his death a small church was erected which developed into the Abbey of St. Gall and the surrounding land developed into the Swiss Canton of St. Gallen.

The only writing of St. Gall that has come down to us is a homily which he delivered when his disciple John became a bishop. St. Gall himself had been proposed for this honor but he again declined, recommending his disciple in his stead. (The text of the homily is found in Canisius' Lectiones Antiquae.)

In the territorial reorganization of the Holy Roman Empire of 1803 all the ecclesiastical estates were secularized, and a part of Swabia was incorporated into the state of Bavaria, forming what is now the Bavarian administrative region of Swabia.

Despite losing precious manuscripts during the Protestant Reformation, the Abbey of St Gall is still one of the most important in Europe. Its library is one of the richest and oldest in the world and is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of early medieval books in German-speaking Europe. A new manuscript digitization initiative is underway and can be viewed online here.

The Feast of St. Gall is celebrated on October 16.

Elgin Moyer "Who Was Who In Church History" Moody Press, 1974.

Dienstag, 20. Januar 2009

The Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Munich

(From this article on the homepage of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.)
The history of the Russian Orthodox community in Munich begins in 1798, when a Russian consulate was established on the Ottostrasse, where, as was customary, a chapel was erected. From 1832 on, the members of the consulate and their families would attend Salvatorkirche Greek Orthodox Church in the center of town. It was here that the poet and diplomat Feodor Tiutchev was married and baptized his five children.

In 1921, local Russians formed the Community of St Nicholas. The parish would assemble at two church locations they did not own: the Mathildenstift hall on a street of that name, and a barracks on Denningerstrasse. Priests would travel from afar, sometimes from as far away as Poland.

In the early 1990's, the parish was able to purchase an edifice from the German government for a church of their own—a church built in the middle of the 20th century by Americans and abandoned after they withdrew their military personnel from the country. This church drew the attention of the clergy and parishioners through its proximity to a prison in which one of the founders of the student group ‘White Rose’, Alexander Schmorell, was executed. Shmorell was glorified as a local saint by the German Diocese of ROCOR in 2007. The church is also close to the cemetery at Perlacher Forst, where Schmorell and his fellow members of ‘White Rose’, as well as a multitude of Russian prisoners of war and ‘Ostarbeiters’, are buried.

The church was remodeled from an American Romano-Gothic style to a traditional Pskovian style. In 2001, 13 bells cast by the Shuvalov brothers in Romano-Borisoglebsk (near Yaroslavl) were hoisted into the bell tower.

In May, 2005, the adjoining Chapel of St Nicholas was consecrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, then-Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The Munich Cathedral became the first church of the Russian Church Abroad in which His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia served after the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion: on November 29, 2007, His Holiness performed a moleben and akathist before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God here.

Today, the Cathedral on average hosts a hundred or so baptisms, 15-20 weddings and a similar number of funerals every year. Sunday services draw approximately 250 worshipers, and over a thousand people gather on Pascha. The main language used in the services is Church Slavonic, while the Epistles and Gospel are read in German. Every Wednesday, vespers is performed in German, and once a month, a choir of Orthodox Germans sings an early Liturgy. The parish publishes materials in both Russian and German.

Over 130 children are enrolled in the parish school. The curriculum includes Russian and Church Slavonic, Russian history and literature and choir. The Law of God is taught from the first grade on a high-school level, in accordance with a program approved by the Bavarian Ministry of Culture. Grades given at the school are counted on the students' educational record.

‘The number of Russian parishes in Germany is growing as a result of new immigrants and those who come here to work. Since the beginning of the 1990's, the greatest number of Russians—3.5 million—has come to Germany, a country of 80 million, while in comparison, 3 million have come to the USA, and 1.5 million to Israel’, noted Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff in an interview granted to RIA Novosti.

The cities of Germany now count some 90 Russian parishes, though sometimes a single priest must minister to several at the same time.

According to one source, Munich now has two Russian monasteries (ROCOR) and three Russian parishes (two belonging to ROCOR and one to the MP). The Munich Cathedral is the largest church, is an active participant in city life and collaborates with the Theology Department of Munich University.

‘The Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and St Nicholas is today an active participant not only in Orthodox and Russian life in Munich, but in Munich life in general’, said the ROCOR representative.

St. Boniface, Enlightener of Germany (c. 672)

Feast Day: June 5

(Icon at right by the hand of Alexander Stolyarov. Provided online by Fr. Hieromonk Benedikt of Göttingen, Moscow Patriarchate)

Boniface was born in Crediton in 680AD into a Saxon family. He was baptised Wynfrith or Winfrid (from the Saxon words wine - friend and frith - peace).

Wynfrith was educated in a Benedictine monastery in Exeter and taught at a monastery at Nursling in Hampshire. It was here he compiled England's first dictionary of Latin grammar. He was ordained priest at the age of thirty.

For many years he felt called to missionary work and began his first foreign ministry at thirty-six in Friesland (now part of Holland) in 716. The language of the Frisians was very close to his native Anglo-Saxon, yet his efforts were hampered by ongoing war between Frisian King Radbod and Charles Martel (The Hammer).

Three years later in Rome he was commissioned by Pope Gregory II to be a missionary to Germany. He was given the name Bonifacius, meaning maker of good or good deeds. In accepting the commission from the Roman Patriarch, he was bound to use the Roman, rather than the Celtic Christian formula for baptism and to turn to Rome for guidance. His work took him to Hesse, Friesland and Bavaria.

In 722 he was elevated to bishop- without an established diocese. He was charged to "preach to the heathen east of the Rhine".

Faced with local ambivalence toward Christianity, legend says that in northern Hesse Boniface threatened to cut down the sacred Oak of Geismar dedicated to Thor. Boniface called upon Thor to strike him down if he cut the "holy" tree. When Thor did not strike him down, the people converted. He built a chapel from its wood at the site where today stands the cathedral of Fritzlar. Folklore says this was the origin of the Christmas tree. The symbolic felling of Thor's Oak is commonly regarded as the beginning of German Christianization north and east of the old borders of the Roman Empire. Willibald, a contemporary, wrote:

Many of the people of Hesse were converted [by Boniface] to the Catholic faith and confirmed by the grace of the spirit: and they received the laying on of hands. But some there were, not yet strong of soul, who refused to accept wholly the teachings of the true faith. Some men sacrificed secretly, some even openly, to trees and springs. Some secretly practiced divining, soothsaying, and incantations, and some openly. But others, who were of sounder mind, cast aside all heathen profanation and did none of these things, and it was with the advice and consent of these men that Boniface sought to fell a tree of great size, at Geismar, and called, in the ancient... of the region, the oak of Thor.

The destruction of local pagan shrines was a habit that would come back to haunt Boniface.

In 723 he was taken under the protection of the Frankish king, Charles Martel. His mission continued in Hesse and Thuringia where he established convents (Klosteren) and developed a well-oragnized system of churches. This was the foundation on which the Roman Church grew in later years throughout Germany.

Boniface was a prolific writer. He made frequent request to Saxons in England for supplies, money, books, and monks to help him in preaching and teaching. He also sought and gave advice to other clerics in his home country. Many of his letters can be found, translated, at the Medieval Sourcebook website.

Charles Martel and his sons proved to be important patrons of the Church and assisted in etablishing churches and monasteries. Boniface wrote to his old friend, Daniel of Winchester, that without the protection of Charles Martel he could "neither administer his church, defend his clergy, nor prevent idolatry."

In 732 Boniface was consecrated archbishop by Pope Gregory III and subsequently found monasteries and episcopal sees throughout Bavaria, Thuringia, Hesse, and Franconia. In 745 Boniface was elevated to Primate of all Germany by Pope Zachary and was given Mainz as his cathedral. In the period 742-747, Boniface directed a series of reforming councils in Francia that dealt largely with abuses by new and inexperienced clergy.

Charles Martel's oldest son, Carloman, left public life in order to live as a monastic, leaving the entire Frankish kingdom to his younger brother, Pippin the Short. A powerful precedent was set that would forever change the political and religious dynamics in Europe; in 752 Pippin was anointed king by Boniface, the first-known instance in the West of such a ceremony.

He had never relinquished his hope of converting the Frisians, and in 754 he set out with a small retinue for Frisia. He summoned a general meeting for the confirmation of converts not far from Dokkum, Netherlands. Instead of his converts, however, a group of armed inhabitants appeared who slew the aged archbishop. According to their own law (The Lex Frisionum), the Frisians had the right to kill him, since he had destroyed their shrines. His body was taken to Utrecht, then Fulda, where his relics still rest today.

A photo of a relic can be seen here. It rests alongside a bone-fragmentfrom Saint Benedict of Nursia.

Boniface made a significant impact on English and European history. In addition to his long guidance of the early church in Germany, he established the structures which allowed it to co-exist with monarchy. He is the patron saint of both Germany and Holland.

Wikipedia states Saint Boniface's feast day is celebrated on June 5 in the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion and on December 19 in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Preface for the Liturgy of St. Boniface's Day in Old English liturgical books reads:

"It is truly meet and just, right and availing to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to Thee, O Holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, Whose grace chose blessed Boniface to the episcopate, Whose teaching made him wise in preaching, Whose power strengthened him to persevere, that by way of the priestly mitre he might reach the palm of martyrdom, both teaching his subjects by preaching, and instructing them how to live by his example, and confirming them by suffering, that he might come to Thee to be crowned, who had fearlessly overcome the threats of his persecutors.

By his intercession, we beseech Thee, may he cleanse us of our misdeeds who pleased Thee with such choice manifestations of Thy gifts, through Christ our Lord. By Whom Angels praise Thy majesty, Dominions worship, the Powers tremble. The heavens, and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, concelebrate in one exultation, with whom command our voices also to have entrance, we beseech Thee, humbly confessing Thee, and saying: Holy, Holy, Holy," etc. (from the Old Sarum Rite Missal, 1998 St. Hilarion Press)

St. Boniface Church, Chicago, USA, was established by German immigrants in 1865, with the current building dating from 1903. The church, although of significant architectural interest, fell into disuse in 1990 and its future is in doubt.


Donnerstag, 15. Januar 2009

Colomanskirche, Schwangau, Bavaria

I was intrigued by this picture of a Roman Catholic church in Germany with an onion dome. I recall seeing pictures of churches like this before, and apparently these domes are a ubiquitous feature of baroque church architecture in Bavaria and Swabia. Of course, baroque architecture in so many other respects, and particularly in its interiors, can scarcely be called Orthodox at all!

This church is dedicated to St Coloman of Stockerau, and is located in the village of Schwangau in southern Bavaria near the Austrian border, 1.5 km from the famous Neuschwanstein Castle of Ludwig II of Bavaria. St Coloman was an 11th-c. Irish monk who embarked upon a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was accused of being a spy at Stockerau, near Vienna, and being unable to speak German in order to clear his name, he was tortured and hanged. His body is said to have been incorrupt, hanging on the gallows, for a year and a half, and the scaffolding to have taken root and blossomed. Three years after his death, St Coloman’s relics were taken to the Benedictine Abbey of Melk on the Danube (the home of Adso in The Name of the Rose!), in what is now Austria.

The Saint is believed to have rested, preached, and pastured his cattle at Schwangau during as travels (see this site). There has been a market day in Schwangau in connection with the feast (Colomansfest) since the 16th c., and the current church was consecrated in 1685. Apparently, at Melk and at Schwangau, horses and cattle are blessed on the day of Colomansfest.

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2009

St. Wolfgang of Regensburg

Saint Wolfgang or Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg (c. 934 - October 31, 994) was bishop of Regensburg in Bavaria from Christmas 972 until his death.

Wolfgang was descended from an aristochratic Swabian famliy and was provided a private education at his home.

Like many European clergy, a full appreciation of Wolfgang's life requires some knowledge of European history and politics. Although such a historical survey is beyond the scope of this blog, it is important to know that Wolfgang was a key figure in Europe's slow march out of what many consider the Dark Ages.

Wars with the Magyars (Huns) resulted in their settlement in roughly what is now Hungary (955). The conversion of the Magyars to Christianity was seen as an important step in reducing their threat to the germanic Holy Roman Empire. Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg and Emperor Otto the Great sent Wolfgang to the Magyars in order to evangelize them.

He was summoned back in 956 by his friend Henry, Archbishop of Trier, and was appointed as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. His residence at Trier greatly influenced his monastic and ascetic tendencies. After Henry's death in 964, Wolfgang entered the Benedictine order in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland. He was ordained priest in 968 by Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg.

Four years later Wolfgang was appointed Bishop of Regensburg by the emperor on September 23, 972. His new duties included the private education of Emperor Saint Henry II; Poppe, future Archbishop of Trier; and Tagino, future Archbishop of Magdeburg.

St. Wolfgang's attempts at Church reform were met with resistance. Yet he is remembered for strengthening and promoting monastic communities in the Ratisbon area. He founded the convent of St. Paul, Mittelmunster (983) and brought various reforms to the Abbey of St. Emmeram (975), the convents of Obermünster and Niedermünster (also at Regensburg), and the Benedictine Abbey of Altach. He took part in the various imperial synods, sometimes accompanying Emperor Otto. The emperor eventually reduced the size of Wolfgang's diocese to make room for a new bishop.

It may have been the ongoing political machinations that disenchanted Wolfgang and drove him to a solitary life as a hermit. Legend says that after having selected a solitary spot in the wilderness, he prayed and then threw his axe into the thicket; the spot on which the axe fell he regarded as the place where God intended he should build his cell. This axe is still shown in the little market town of St. Wolfgang which sprang up on the spot of the old cell.

While traveling on the Danube, he fell ill and was carried to his native Pupping where he died in the chapel of Saint Othmar. His body was interned in Regensburg. He was canonized as a Saint in 1052.

The oldest and best manuscript of Wolfgang's "Life" is in the library of his home Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland. He is often depicted in art with an axe in his right hand, or as a hermit in the wilderness being discovered by a hunter.

Wolfgang's feastday is celebrated on October 31st.

This post incorporates information from Wikipedia and New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

Samstag, 10. Januar 2009

A Website Transfigured

The previous content for this domain name contained the message of a manufactured church based on race. This was offensive for two reasons: I am of German descent and I am an Orthodox Christian.

National Socialism of the 1930s and 1940s was an aberration of German culture; a political ideal based on race and an invented German romanticism. A racially exclusive church based on these failed and evil ideas cannot be truly German, nor can it be Orthodox.

Also, an Orthodox church cannot be invented or "started" by individuals. It must be an organic extension of one of the ancient Churches as evidenced by apostolic succession, adherence to the accepted theology, and being "in Communion" with the other Orthodox Churches.

In case you are wondering what used to be at GermanOrthodoxChurch, you can read it at the following website

The website above is a directory of various independent liturgical churches and bishops. Almost halfway down it mentions a group called the German Orthodox Church. The directory maintains some of the text that was part of the old website. I will not reproduce it here.

Based on the religious practice of Eastern immigrants to America, the former owners of GermanOrthodoxChurch most likely misunderstood the nature of Orthodoxy and assumed that Orthodox belief was intrinsically organized around ethnicity. Read the following article regarding the Heresy of Racism...

What is a "German Orthodox Church?"

What is a "German Orthodox Church?"

It would seem to make sense, since there is a Serbian Orthodox Church, a Russian one, a Greek one, etc. But if you notice, these kinds of geography-specific Churches exist only in the East.

In regions historically under Roman Catholic influence, there were no national demarcations. Everything was just "Roman Catholic." Whereas in the East, the Orthodox Churches were (and are) for the most part administered locally.

Germany was obviously within the Roman area.

However, the Eastern Churches recognize that before the Great Schism in 1054, the Church of the Frankish, Saxon, and Teutonic regions was Orthodox in belief. So there was an Orthodox Church in Germany... under the administration of Rome. But then Rome went its separate way.

In modern times, Eastern European immigrants moved westward and brought their faith with them. So there is- now- an Orthodox Church living in modern Germany. Orthodox clergy have a responsibility to serve both the immigrant communities as well as indigenous Germans, and in the local language. Ethnic exclusivity is not the belief of the Orthodox Church.

Even in Orthodox Churches in the US you will hear German used along with a variety of languages usually during the celebration of the Resurrection. The priest will exclaim:

"Christus ist auferstanden!"
(Christ is Risen!)

And the people reply loudly:

"Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!"
(Truly He is risen!)