schönheit

I figure that since my last few posts have been somewhat angsty and/or therapeutic in nature, I owe y’all a post telling you what I’ve actually been up to since I’ve been in Freiburg. In case you were wondering, today was a really good day! I met some other international students on a tour of the offices around campus that we need to go to in order to register, and now I have an American bureaucracy buddy! Yesss.

Also, I went up to the Shrine today.

This isn't today, it's from last week. The weather was really nice today... unlike last week.

It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! It’s on a hill next to a vineyard and it looks down on Merzhausen and Freiburg! It almost competes with Addie Roy in terms of beauty. Almost.

The Shrine is a few miles away from campus… about 5 Straßenbahn stops and then a good 15 minute walk from there. It’s kind of a pain, but it would be a lot better if I had a bike. Actually, getting to campus from my dorm would be a lot better if I had a bike, too! Hmm… I thought about buying one, but they seem kind of expensive, and an unnecessary expense considering that I’m also thinking about buying a bike once I get back to Austin.

But the Blessed Mother’s got my back, apparently!!!

I went over to the Shrine today because there was a lecture and some kind of pilgrims’ meeting (I couldn’t completely understand the description of the event…) that turned out to be kind of like a mothers’ group or women’s group or something. There was a bit of an age gap haha, but it was ok, all the ladies were super nice and the sister who lives here is awesome!! She’s Japanese, but she’s lived in Germany for quite some time. She told us her story about how she became Catholic and how she was introduced to Schönstatt. I understood most of it, which made me feel super awesome!

Then we had Mass, and afterwards I talked to some of the women. They were really impressed by my German (ha… I was kind of proud of how well I did though!). One of the women, I have decided, is a German version of who I want to be in 20 years haha. So I’ll keep you guys updated on that.

But more importantly, we got to talking about whether I’ve bought a bike yet. The answer, of course, is no, not yet, but I’m waiting to see how prices work out and such. I couldn’t quite spit all of that out auf Deutsch. But the next thing I knew, the woman (whose name I don’t know… FAIL) was telling me to write down my cell number (which I also don’t know… DOUBLE FAIL) because she has an old bike that she’s willing to give me!!! Score!!! So, I wrote down my e-mail address for her and hopefully in a few weeks I will have a bike!!! YAY!!!!

So, as if I didn’t already know, Mama Mary is definitely here in Germany with me! Which reminds me… I went on a spontaneous hike the other day that brought me up to this gorgeous viewpoint from which I could see basically the whole city… even the Seepark next to my dorm complex and (I’m pretty sure) the Shrine! It was AWESOME! The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but here:

The shrine is on the far side of that green patch on the left (you can't quite see the building itself). How pretty is this!?!!?

 

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dormition?

We took the train to Colmar, France, today. It was pretty rainy, so we decided to go to the Unterlinden Museum so we could spend some time inside. Which was a good idea in theory, but we didn’t factor in a 35 minute detour of walking, lost, around the entire city in the rain.

The museum was fantastic. It was mostly Catholic art from the early Church and the late middle Ages, prominently featuring a number of artists from the Alsace-Lorraine area. The main attraction was a huge room devoted to the Isenheim Altarpiece, which was unlike anything I’d ever seen before!

One really striking thing that my mom and I both noticed was the recurrence of this image, or images like it, depicting the “dormition of Mary,” or Mary’s deathbed.

In these images, Mary is always surrounded by the apostles. Christ is generally seen in the heavens, accompanied by a child representing Mary's soul.

The first time we saw it, in St. Leodegar’s in Luzern, we had no idea what we were even looking at. Then, it just kept coming up at the museum today! Luckily, the handy museum tour headset thing was kind enough to tell us what the heck it was… Mary’s dormition, where according to tradition the apostles all came together to comfort Mary as she died. (Apparently they were “carried on clouds from all over the earth…” a cooler image than my mom’s projection that they all just texted each other.)

Then, I came back to the hotel room and ran a Google search and came up with this: “In Byzantine icons and Western medieval art, the most common deathbed scene is that of the Virgin Mary.”

Um, WHAT? I have never heard of this or seen an image like this in my whole life! And neither has my mother! And, to use her words, she’s “been Catholic for a long time”! And we go to museums quite often, too! Are we just the only Catholics who haven’t been informed of this artistic phenomenon?!?! Help me out here, Catholic friends!