Montag, 23. Februar 2009

The Jewish Roots of Orthodox Baptism

I really do not like to dwell on previous incarnations of the GermanOrthodoxChurch website, but I find it highly ironic and almost humorous that racists would try and emulate or masquerade as the Orthodox Church- especially given the Jewish roots of Orthodox worship, practice, tradition, and mysticism.

Take baptism, for example. Like much of early Christian worship, Baptism was a Jewish custom. The people living in the Middle East in the first century were already familiar with the practice. So when the Jews and Greeks saw John the Baptist immersing people in the river, they didn't say to themselves "what is this strange act"? It was something they were already familiar with. An article once posted on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese website said:

A significant parallel exists between Jewish proselyte baptism (when pagans were converted to Judaism) and early Christian baptism. The contacts between early Christian baptism and proselyte baptism, with the similarities in terminology, interpretation, symbolism, and the rite itself, are especially notable. What is of greatest interest, however, is that the baptism of the early Church followed that of proselyte baptism, in which children and infants were baptized with the convert’s family. This is especially significant when one realizes that the very early Church was made up primarily of converted Jews. -“Infant Baptism” by Jordan Bajis.

Baptism, or “mikveh” in Hebrew, is the ceremonial and purifying washing of an object or person in the presence of witnesses. The object or person becomes sanctified, or purified and set aside for a holy purpose. From Old Testament times onward, this has been applied to new mothers, burnt offerings, personal garments, one's hands before a meal, etc. Even in modern Jewish homes, kitchen utensils are immersed in a mikveh, thus a simple meal is transformed into an act of spiritual significance. We can see examples of this ritual in the following Old Testament passages:

Exodus 19:10-14
Exodus 30:18-21
Leviticus 11
Leviticus 17:16
Numbers 8:7

Christian baptism was the continuation of the Jewish mikveh - the sanctification and entrance of the person into the faith community. Churches that baptize babies do so with the belief that those who are baptized (infants and adults) are being set apart for a holy purpose and the process of salvation has begun in their lives.

The Old Testament teaches that males coming into the Covenant should be circumcised. Hebrew men who accepted God’s Covenant were to be circumcised, but what about Hebrew children? Did the law require that they wait until an “age of accountability” so they could decide for themselves? No, the Law taught that Hebrew infants were to be circumcised as a sign of God’s covenant, just like any adult convert. The early Church simply continued with this understanding when baptism became the “circumcision of the New Covenant” for the New Testament Christians (Colossians 2).

Forbidding the baptism of infants (“believer’s baptism”) came about in Europe with the Protestant Reformation. In their zeal to distance themselves from anything resembling Roman Catholicism, the Anabaptist and Mennonite reformers lost sight of the historical meaning behind baptism. Protestant theology was heavily influenced by European political ideals, particularly the new emphasis on individual rights and thus baptism became the “public declaration of one’s personal decision.”

In the Conservative and Orthodox Jewish traditions, men and women still go to the purifying waters every shabbat eve. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, full immersion is required, often done in a large basin, exactly as going to the mikveh. Chrismation and the Eucharist immediately follow. Just as the Jewish mikveh is done in view to partake in the Shabbat meals, baptism/Chrismation culminates in the Eucharistic meal.

We are like the burnt offerings and kitchen utensils in a Jewish home in that we can never fully comprehend our sanctification through the mystery of Baptism, no matter what our age is. Yet, we as Christians are separated for a Holy purpose, and we begin the process of salvation through the mystery of Baptism. We are then able to enter God’s temple as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

Jordan Bajis's article is also careful to point out:

Baptism in and of itself, of course, is not enough. It must be accompanied by genuine faith. No parents should be allowed to baptize their infant if they themselves have not made an expressed commitment to serve Jesus Christ and raise their children in accordance with God’s Word. As adults, we are called to accept the challenge of our baptism and live dedicated lives for Christ. If we do any less, we have rejected Christ and the gift of salvation He has made available to us since our birth.

- by David Schneider with the assistance of Fr. Aleksandr Winogradsky Frenkel

Freitag, 20. Februar 2009

St Pirminius in Reichenau

This photograph, which I originally posted during Bright Week, prompted a reader to ask for an explanation. I'm happy to oblige. This is a photograph of a sundial painted on the outside wall of the rectory outside the Abbey Church (which it depicts in its current form) on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance, Germany. The figure holding the staff and treading on a serpent is St Pirminius (or Pirmin, c.670 - 753). The monk Hermann the Cripple (+1054 – great timing!) writes the following in his chronicle for the year 724:

Saint Pirminius, abbot and bishop, is led by the princes Berthold and Nebi to Charles, who entrusts Reichenau to him. He drove out the snakes and during his three-year stay organized monastic life.

The inscription, ora et labora, is a Benedictine exhortation (in Latin) to 'pray and work'. This points to the abbey's monastic roots. Abbot Walahfrid Strabo (842-849), in a letter to Pope Gregory IV (827-844), praises the abbey in these words:

That earlier-named site of our endeavors indeed occupies first place in these regions. It is dedicated to the Most Pure, Blessed Virgin Mary and the Prince of the Apostles Peter. A not insignificant group of men who conduct their lives after the Rule of Saint Benedict is united there. The fullness of their spiritual wisdom nourishes the adjacent land with ample instruction.

Saint Pirminius left Reichenau in 727, and reposed on November 3, 753, as Abbot of Hornbach in the Palatinate, the last monastery that he founded. His holy relics are preserved in the Jesuit Church of Innsbruck.

Visitors to Reichenau should by all means visit the treasure room – and do confirm ahead of time that it will be open – in order to venerate a large relic of the the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, as well as a number of other ancient relics, most of which were likely brought from Constantinople during the Crusades.

Holy Saint Priminius, pray to God for us!

Dienstag, 17. Februar 2009

Tolkien on the Germanic Ideal

Strictly speaking, this has nothing to do with ‘German Orthodoxy’, but it does represent a very Orthodox view of national pride, one that is most definitely in conflict with Nazism. Furthermore, an important part of the Daseinszweck of this blog is specifically the response to those who would have German identity—and even love of the German land and people—and hatred of others go hand in hand. From a letter of J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Michael, dated 9 June 1941, in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter with Christopher Tolkien (Boston: Houghton, 1981), p. 55-6:

People in this land seem not even yet to realize that in the Germans we have enemies whose virtues (and they are virtues) of obedience and patriotism are greater than ours in the mass. Whose brave men are just about as brave as ours. Whose industry is about 10 times greater. And who are—under the curse of God—now led by a man inspired by a mad, whirlwind, devil: a typhoon, a passion: that makes the poor old Kaiser look like an old woman knitting.

I have spent most of my life, since I was your age, studying Germanic matters (in the general sense that includes England and Scandinavia). There is a great deal more force (and truth) than ignorant people imagine in the ‘Germanic’ ideal. I was much attracted by it as an undergraduate (when Hitler was, I suppose, dabbling in paint, and had not heard of it), in reaction against the ‘Classics’. You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil. But no one ever calls on me to ‘broadcast’, or do a postscript! Yet I suppose I know better than most what is the truth about this ‘Nordic’ nonsense. Anyway, I have in this War a burning private grudge—which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler (for the odd thing about demonic inspiration and impetus is that it in no way enhances the purely intellectual stature: it chiefly affects the mere will). Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.

Montag, 16. Februar 2009

Hymns for St Anscharius from Sweden & Bremen

Besides the modern Orthodox service for St Anskar, with its own hymnography based on Byzantine forms, one can find the Latin texts and English translations of two Western hymns for the holy hierarch here. I shall post the English translations of both. The first is apparently taken from the Breviary used in the Swedish church at Upsala:

Most noble father, Anskar,
Restore us by thy grace,
And those who wander now afar
In Christ's own bosom place.

In holy strife contending
Thou did'st the faith proclaim
To Danes and Swedes declaring
The honour of His name.

An unbelieving nation
From thee the light receives,
The teachings of salvation,
It now with joy believes.

Thou to God's sheep hast given
The food they fain would claim,
And earnestly hast striven
To glorify His name.

To the great King thou bringest
When earthly strife doth cease,
The talents thou receivest,
With manifold increase.

To Father, and His only Son
Be laud and honour given
To Holy Spirit, Three in One
In earth and highest heaven.

The second hymn is prefaced by this note: 'This hymn in honour of Anshar was written by Conrad Benne, who was a deacon in the monastery of S.S. Willehad and Stephen at Bremen from 1429 to 1456. It is included in the Missal of the Church at Bremen issued by Archbishop Johann Rode.'

Ye men of Bremen sing with joy,
Your hearts with minds and tongues employ,
Such wondrous gifts without alloy
Each with beauty all its own
Of joyful sound the piercing reed
To praise your glorious patron, speed.
Blest Anskar, now from troubles freed
High on his triumphal throne.

He, God's High priest midst Northmen rude
The pattern life to Romans shewed
In Heaven's high fortress unsubdued
Now holds his prize in glory.
Once nurtured up in Corbey's Hall,
His sanctity acclaimed by all,
To highest priesthood hears his call,
Rejoice, and sing his story.

With wide stretched sails, in faith he flies
Displays to wondering Danish eyes
The Lamb of God that rules the skies,
Bids them worship at His Shrine.
In pagan lands hard hearts he breaks,
Disciples for the Mister makes
Thy signs and merits conscience wakes,
Fount of eloquence divine!

The conqueror of kingdoms three,
Temples profane destroyed must be
Vain idol worship fain must flee,
For Christ are won these regions
In faith shine forth the Danes and Swedes
Where Bremen's faithful bishop leads
Icelanders, too, forsake their creeds
Greenlanders and Norwegians.

Oh, mind upraised, to things on high
Oh, salt of earth! oh sanctity!
Oh, light, no bushel hidden by,
Shining now with heavenly beam!
The warrior weeps, with grief cast down
Lest he should lose the martyr's crown,
'Twas surely promised for his own,
Once in brightest vision's gleam.

The Cup of Solomon the True
He drinketh ­yea, death's tortures too,
Though not by violent sword thrust through
Martyrdom he is denied.
Abuse and threats on every hand,
Tormentors, tyrants, round him stand,
His life a sign to every land
Faith triumphant will abide.

In hope of contemplation sweet
In thickest forest finds retreat
And there pours out oblation meet,
Corn and wine in Jesus name.
For though absorbed in cares of earth
He loves the things of highest worth
Two lives he leads; e’en from his birth
Brightly burns the sacred flame.

To Christ, of all his life the End
Triumphantly his steps do bend,
To Thee my spirit I commend,
Dear Lord’, he breathes, believing
Then to his brethren bids farewell,
Is taken up, in heaven to dwell
With rapture­ those who loved him well
Can scarce refrain their grieving.

Oh! Anskar blest, to thee we pray
As we revere thy name to­day,
Be thou our leader that we may
The path of virtue cherish.
Guide ever through the trackless world
Thy pilgrim sheep to the true fold,
Lest wolves upon thy flock take hold
And far from home we perish.

Sonntag, 15. Februar 2009

St Anscharius of Hamburg & Bremen, Apostle of the North & Patron of Germany

Today, 3 February on the old Orthodox calendar, we commemorate St Anskar (sometimes written Ansgarius, Ansgar, or Anschar) of Hamburg and Bremen (801-65), Apostle of the North and Patron of Germany. His Life was written by his disciple, St Rimbert, his successor to the see of Bremen-Hamburg, and unless otherwise noted, all quotations will be from the translation of that Life by Charles H. Robinson at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

St Anskar came from a noble family of Amiens, Picardie, in modern France, who may have been close in some capacity to Charlemagne. While still a boy, he received the first of many ‘celestial visits which admonished him to turn away his thoughts from things on earth and to keep his whole heart open to heavenly influences’. According to St Rimbert, the Mother of God appeared to St Anskar, who had previously indulged in childish games with his fellows, saying, ‘If you desire to share our companionship, you must flee from every kind of vanity, and put away childish jests and have regard to the seriousness of life; for we hate everything that is vain and unprofitable, nor can anyone be with us who has delight in such things.’ Apparently, the boy took this to heart, and spent more time in ‘reading and meditation and other useful occupations’, eventually receiving tonsure in the Benedictine monastery of Old Corbie in his native region (Chapt. II).

But it was a second set of experiences that seem definitely to have fixed St Anskar on the path of sanctity. The first was the death of Charlemagne, at which, upon hearing the news, the Saint was ‘affected with fear and horror’. St Rimbert tells us:

Accordingly he put aside all levity and began to languish with a divinely inspired remorse; and, devoting himself wholly to the service of God, he gave attention to prayer, watching and fasting. By these virtuous exercises he became a true athlete, of God, and, as a result of his persistent severity, the world became dead to him and he to the world. (Cf. Gal. 6:14)

Then, immediately after this, St Rimbert relates another vision, or more properly, an entire ἀποκάλυψη–

When the Day of Pentecost came, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which was at this time poured forth upon the apostles, enlightened and refreshed his mind,­ so we believe; and the same night he saw in a vision that he was about to encounter sudden death when, in the very act of dying, he summoned to his aid the holy apostle Peter and the blessed John the Baptist.

These two great Saints appeared to him, and guided St Anskar through an experience of torment to a vision of the throne of God, surrounded by the ranks of Saints and angels. According to the Saint’s own words, which he related to St Rimbert on condition that he tell no one before the former’s death:

In the east, where the light rises, was a marvellous brightness, an unapproachable light of unlimited and excessive brilliance, in which was included every splendid colour and everything delightful to the eye. All the ranks of the saints, who stood round rejoicing, derived their happiness therefrom. The brightness was of so great extent that I could see neither beginning nor end thereof. . . . When, then I had been brought by the men whom I mentioned into the presence of this unending light, where the majesty of Almighty God was revealed to me without need for anyone to explain, and when they and I had offered our united adoration, a most sweet voice, the sound of which was more distinct than all other sounds, and which seemed to me to fill the whole world, came forth from the same divine majesty, and addressed me and said, ‘Go and return to Me crowned with martyrdom.’ (Chapt. III)

Apparently, St Anskar served for a time as ‘master of the school dedicated to St Peter’ (Chapt. IV), but in 822 he was sent to the foundation of New Corbie far to the north, in the Sollinger Wald in Westphalia in what is now Germany. It seems his services as a schoolmaster and homiletician were desired there, a fact which St Rimbert emphasises in his concern that St Anskar not be thought to have violated St Benedict’s clear command of stability in RB 58—‘But let him understand that according to the law of the Rule he is no longer free to leave the monastery . . .’ (The Rule of St Benedict in English and Latin, trans. Justin McCann [Fort Collins, CO: Roman Catholic, n.d.], p. 131). (Chapt. VI)

It was at New Corbie that St Anskar came to the attention of King Harald 'Klak' Halfdansson from Denmark, who had been converted to Christianity at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. Upon returning to Denmark, King Harald took the holy man and his companion, Autbert, with him to build a church and school and to teach his people the new Faith (Chapt. VII). But while St Rimbert tells us that ‘many were converted to the faith by their example and teaching, and the number of those who should be saved in the Lord increased daily’ (Chapt. VIII), St Anskar was soon summoned before Louis again. Having been told not even ‘to stop and shave’ (believed to be a reference to renewing his tonsure, one should note), he arrived to receive the king’s request that he go with an embassy to Sweden to preach the Gospel there. Thus, as Christopher Dawson observes, ‘Christianity first penetrated into Scandinavia through the work of St Anskar’ (Religion and the Rise of Western Culture [Garden City, NY: Image, 1958], p. 85). (Chapt. IX)

According to St Rimbert, the missionaries ‘were kindly received by the king, who was called Björn [at Haugi]’, and made great progress in spreading the Gospel among the heathens of the North (Chapt. XI). They eventually returned to Louis bearing letters written in runic characters from the Swedish king, and it was at this point (in 831, according to Butler) that Louis had St Anskar enthroned as abbot of New Corbie and consecrated bishop of the newly formed diocese of Hamburg by his half-brother Drogo of Metz, with the aim of sending the new hierarch on further missions in the northern regions (Chapt. XII). He was then sent to be confirmed in his authority by Pope Gregory IV, who, before the tomb of St Peter—

appointed him as his legate for the time being amongst all the neighbouring races of the Swedes and Danes, also the Slavs and the other races that inhabited the regions of the north, so that he might share authority with Ebo the Archbishop of Rheims [a co-consecrator of the new bishop], to whom he had before entrusted the same office. (Chapt. XIII)

St Rimbert tells us that his elder faithfully administered his diocese, converting many of the heathen by the example of his life. He also redeemed young boys from slavery to educate them and train them to serve the Church—a good work which has been depicted in the illustration above (Chapt. XV). According to Butler, St Anskar continued to oversee missions in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (the last being administered by an auxiliary bishop), built churches, and founded a library, giving himself over to this labour for thirteen years. But in 845, Vikings destroyed Hamburg, and the bishop and his flock barely escaped with their lives (Chapt. XVI). Soon after, as the bishop of Bremen had fallen asleep in the Lord, that see was joined with Hamburg into a new archbishopric under the oversight of St Anskar (Chapt. XIII), who continued to foster missions in various parts of the North.

In Chapter XXXV of his Life, St Rimbert tells us that his elder would practice extreme asceticism, wearing a hairshirt in imitation of St Martin of Tours. While St Anskar also followed the great hierarch of Gaul in preaching the Gospel with zeal and serving the poor and the sick, ‘At the same time he loved to be alone in order that he might exercise himself in divine philosophy’, and thus he built himself a private cell in which to practice hesychia. He was tireless in his solicitude for the poor, for scholars, widows, and hermits, bringing them money and gifts, feeding them and washing their feet with his own hands. Once, when the large numbers of people he had healed through prayer were referred to in St Anskar’s presence, out of a desire to hide his virtue he replied, ‘Were I worthy of such a favour from my God, I would ask that he would grant to me this one miracle, that by His grace He would make of me a good man’ (Chapt. XXXIX).

It is interesting to reflect that St Anskar carried out many of his dangerous missions among the Northern heathens with the expectation that he would likely be martyred, in accordance with the commandment he had received from God as a young man (related in Chapt. III). But while the opportunity to shed his blood frequently eluded him, St Rimbert tells us, ‘The life that he lived involved toils which were accompanied by constant bodily suffering: in fact his whole life was like a martyrdom’ (Chapt. XL). At last, in his old age, St Anskar also began to suffer from a final martyrdom—a wasting illness which tormented him slowly over the course of some months. Having arranged for a glorious celebration of the Feast of the Meeting of Our Lord, this holy hierarch fell asleep in the Lord the very next day. Even though he did not meet a violent end, according to St Rimbert (Chapt. XLII), his can still be held to have been a martyr’s death:

For day by day, by tears, watchings, fastings, tormenting of the flesh and mortification of his carnal desires, he offered up a sacrifice to God on the altar of his heart and attained to martyrdom as far as was possible in a time of peace. And inasmuch as the agent, though not the will, was lacking in order to bring about the visible martyrdom of the body, he obtained in will what he could not obtain in fact. We cannot, however altogether deny that he attained actual martyrdom if we compare his great labours with those of the apostle. In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from his own race, in perils from the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in lonely places, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren ; in labour and distress, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings; often, in cold and nakedness ; besides those things which are without, that which came upon him daily, the care of all the Churches. Who was weak and he was not ? Who, was offended and he did not burn? (Cf. II Cor 11:26-9)

Reader Isaac Lambertson has written a beautiful Service for St Anskar. The first verse of Ode VI of the Canon reads, ‘The rivers and seas of the North were honoured to bear thee on thine apostolic journeys, O Ansgar, disciple of Christ, for the ship of thy soul was propelled by the Holy Spirit.’ Here, in conclusion, is the dismissal hymn of the Saint:

Ever moved by love for God and man, O Ansgar, like the apostles thou didst journey afar to bring salvation to the benighted, offering up thine afflictions upon the altar of thy heart, in thy toils and distress bearing witness unto thy Saviour like a martyr, enduring perils on land and at sea for His sake, undaunted by temptations and tribulations. Wherefore, pray with boldness, that our souls be saved.

Dienstag, 3. Februar 2009

Pro Arte Beuronensis

After reading Fr John Meyendorff’s article on the Orthodox Church in Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, the very first thing that I read about Orthodoxy was Photios Kontoglou’s hard-hitting, but, I felt, persuasive apologia for traditional Byzantine iconography, ‘The Hopelessness of Death in Western Religious Art and the Peace-Bestowing and Profoundly Hopeful Orthodox Iconography’ (printed in English, in, I believe, The True Vine—my own copy is buried in a box somewhere in my house). I very quickly wrote off Western religious art. If it wasn’t the fleshy naturalism of the Renaissance and Baroque eras (made for churches like this), it was the tacky, quickly dated, and hopelessly subjective modernism of the post-Vatican II years (made for churches like this). Neither one seemed right to me.

But then I was surprised to make a discovery. It was about two and a half years ago, when I was first looking into the history of the St Benedict medal. I learned somewhere (most likely here) that the medal as it’s typically produced now had been designed in something called ‘the Beuronese style of sacred art’, at the (I found here) ‘St Martin's Archabbey, Beuron, Germany’. Now, this name, ‘Beuron’, was familiar to me. In his wonderful conversion-to-Orthodoxy story, Fr Placide (Deseille) made a passing reference to this place, saying of his aunts that ‘the great abbeys of Beuron, Maredsous, and Solemnes were the high places of their Christianity’ (Archimandrite Placide [Deseille], ‘Stages of a Pilgrimage’, The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain: Contemporary Voices from Mt Athos, trans. and ed. Hieromonk Alexander [Golitzin] [South Canaan, PA: St Tikhon’s Seminary, 1999], p. 63). It was precisely this passage that sprang to mind when I came across that reference to the design of the medal. It sparked my curiosity as much as the expression ‘the great abbeys’ had fired my imagination.

The story I discovered is a long one, and I haven’t been able to work out all of the precise details. What I do know, is that the main figures in the development of Beuronese art were a group of German artists named Peter Lenz (1832-1928), Jakob Würger (1829-92), and Fridolin Steiner (1849-1906). The three young men went to Rome to work with some members of what had been the ‘Nazarene’ movement, a brotherhood of German artists devoted to St Luke the Evangelist (the first iconographer, according to tradition) who had lived a semi-monastic existence painting religious and neomediæval subjects in a simple, serene style. One critic in 1820 ascribed to the Nazarenes’ work the qualities of ‘simplicity, holiness, and purity’ (Fr Kenneth Novak, ‘The Art of Beuron’, Angelus Online). George Eliot referred to the Nazarenes as ‘the chief renovators of Christian art, . . . who had not only revived but expanded that grant conception of supreme events as mysteries at which the successive agess were spectators, and in relation to which the great souls of all periods became as it were contemporaries’ (George Eliot, Middlemarch I, Vol. VI in Works of George Eliot [NY: The Century, 1910], p. 310). James D. Merritt notes the Nazarenes’ influence upon and anticipation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in England (Introduction, The Pre-Raphaelite Poem [NY: Dutton, 1966], pp. 9-10). A meeting with one of the Nazarenes, Peter von Cornelius, had a tremendous influence on the art of Ford Maddox Brown (1821-93), who subsequently was a mentor to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a contributor to the Pre-Raphaelite periodical, The Germ (in a letter to Maddox Brown, Rossetti apparently writes ‘that if he ever does anything on his own account, it will be under the influence of such inspiration’—Joseph Knight, Life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti [London: Walter Scott, 1887], p. 22).

So, to return to Lenz, Würger, and Steiner, they were highly influenced by the Nazarene movement. But, in addition, they became fascinated with the ancient Egyptian art that had poured into Europe in the wake of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. According to Novak:

Lenz [the primary theorist among them] thought sacred art should reflect the natural laws of aesthetics through formulae he believed were forgotten after the Greeks and Egyptians. Geometrical proportions determine ideal forms, and the result is an innate harmony comparable to the mathematical relationships in musical composition.

Believing a monastic brotherhood to be the ideal context in which to put their ideas into practice, the three talked about forming a monastery. But in 1868 they met Fr Maurus Wolter, abbot of the new Benedictine monastery of Beuron. Wolter had initiated a close relationship with the centre of the Gregorian chant revival, Solemnes, corresponding with the abbot, Dom Prosper Guéranger, and even going so far as to model Beuron on the Solemnes Congregation. The cultivation of traditional Gregorian chant at Beuron dovetailed nicely with the approach to the visual and plastic arts of Lenz, Würger, and Steiner. The three were tonsured as monks of Beuron, taking the names Desiderius, Gabriel, and Lukas. They began an art school at Beuron that—besides designing the St Benedict medal—built churches, painted murals, created mosaics, and even hand-crafted church furnishings and altar vessels in Europe and later in America, based on the principles developed by Desiderius Lenz. Novak lists a few of these (apparently taken from Lenz’s writings):

The art speaks to the mind of the viewer. The art is itself worshipful and invites the viewer to worship. It does not stand out boldly of itself but is part of an environment of worship.

Works are anonymous, done by group effort, and not for the glory of the artist, but of God.

As in icons, the Beuronese style favors imitation over originality, with freehand copying revealing an artist's true genius.

There is full integration of art and architecture. Painting and sculpture are not ‘stick-ons’ to an architectural plan but an integral part of it. Beuronese art encompasses painting, architecture, altar vessels, and furnishings.

One can see some examples of these principles in practice at the Archabbey of Beuron itself here, in the crypt of the monastery church at Monte Cassino here, at the Mauruskapelle here, in the Basilica at Conception Abbey in Missouri, at the Abbey of St Hildegard here, at Maria Laach Abbey in Germany here, and at the chapel of the Gymnázia Teplice in the Czech Republic here. There is a beautiful photo of a Beuronese chapel at Daniel Mitsui’s blog here, and a few images at ‘History and Sources’ here. The photo above is of the 'Great Hall' at St John's University in Collegeville, MN, which was apparently restored some years ago.