by Sandy Kirby Quandt
The Dom in Cologne, Germany truly is a magnificent masterpiece.The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1996, UNESCO has this to say about the cathedral:
Begun in 1248, the construction of this Gothic masterpiece took place in several stages and was not completed until 1880. Over seven centuries, successive builders were inspired by the same faith and a spirit of absolute fidelity to the original plans. Apart from its exceptional intrinsic value and the artistic masterpieces it contains, Cologne Cathedral testifies to the enduring strength of European Christianity.
The Dom’s original medieval builders envisioned the cathedral as a grand reliquary to house the remains of saints; such as bones, pieces of clothing, or other relics associated with saints or religious figures. Of course, the authenticity of said objects was often a matter of debate.
The relics themselves were considered more valuable than precious stones and to be esteemed more than gold. As a result, they were enshrined in containers crafted of, or covered with, gold, silver, gems, ivory and enamel.
During the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther opposed the use of relics; believing they led to the worship of something other than God.
While I respect the traditions of differing cultures toward the dead, I have to tell you when I walked past the numerous containers of relics placed throughout the Dom during my visits to the cathedral, it gave me the willies. I even found myself occasionally holding my breath as I passed them.
In case you are wondering where in the world this blog post came from, the reason behind this discussion of relics and the bones of venerated people was sparked by several verses I read in Ezekiel.
The Lord told Ezekiel God was the living One who dwelt among the people, and he would not have the people defile his holy name any longer by honoring the relics of their kings who had died.
So I’m wondering … have we erected a reliquary of any kind where we venerate or hold up in worship anything; dead or alive, other than God?
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And I heard someone speaking to me from within the Temple, while the man who had been measuring stood beside me. The Lord said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place where I will rest my feet. I will live here forever among the people of Israel. They and their kings will not defile my holy name any longer by their adulterous worship of other gods or by honoring the relics of their kings who have died. They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and me. They defiled my holy name by such detestable sin, so I consumed them in my anger. Now let them stop worshiping other gods and honoring the relics of their kings, and I will live among them forever. Ezekiel 43:6-9 (NLT)
I wish you well.
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