SJ on the Move

Friday, November 10, 2006


Two weekends ago, we took the train down to the ancient city of Trier. As I've mentioned numerous times, just about every city in Germany was at one time one of the most important cities in the world. Trier is no different, as at one time it was the capital of one of the four kingdoms of the Roman Empire.

One of the most notable tourist sites in Trier is the 'Black Gate'. Although less imposing than the version in Lord of the Rings, you still have to give some credit to a structure that is somewhere around 2000 years old.

Like most places we've been to in Germany, Trier boasts a colorful marketplace with half-timbered buildings, a decorative fountain, and old cathedrals. It seemed particularly interesting in Trier that there were these beautiful old buildings that were hundreds and hundreds of years old, that now house McDonald's and H&M.

One of the things that is interesting about Trier is that they have a classic example of a Romanesque cathedral right next to a classical example of a Gothic cathedral. The Romanesque Cathedral supposedly holds the seamless robe of Christ - the one that the soldiers cast lots for instead of tearing. On our journeys around Germany and Austria we have seen a LOT of relics. For example : the swaddling clothes of Christ, the head of John the Baptist, the bones of the three kings, a crystal containing some of the blood of Christ, innumerable bones of Martyrs, and of course, a drop of the Virgin Mary's breast milk. I don't mean to be skeptical, but you really have to wonder what people thought of these things - even a thousand years ago. Would anyone really have saved Jesus' swaddling clothes?

But, I digress. Interestingly, the original cathedral that stood on this ground was four times as large as the one that stands here now. It held somewhere around 10,000 people. The entire courtyard outside the present cathedral was once the footprint of the old cathedral. As SJ was running through the courtyard, I heard a passerby say, in English, "Look at that little German girl". Well, SJ as achieved cultural assimilation.

In addition to the Black Gate, Trier also has several ruins of ancient baths, as well as a coliseum. I kept trying to get SJ to re-enact a pose from the Gladiator...

...but she seemed more interested in playing in the grass. Oh well, the answer to "Are you not entertained?" was still "Yes".

Of course, fittingly, in this city of ancient Roman ruins and relics, the highlight of the day was still the carnival that happened to be taking place that Saturday.

My family also seemed to get a real kick out of a plaque honoring Franz Weissebach. I'm afraid I don't know anything about his contributions to society, or why my family was so amused, except to say that he was obviously a very handome man...


At 5:32 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Who knows, maybe Mary saved Jesus' clothes. Mothers do things like that, even if we don't expect our kids to die to save the world. (Especially me, I'm a bit of a pack-rat.)


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