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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Visita Iglesia 2015: Churches in Switzerland and Germany

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Water Bottle: Checked
Power Bars : Checked
Train Tickets: Checked
All systems go.

Good Friday, 2015. I decided to go on Visita Iglesia just on the spur of the moment this year. No route planned, no time plan, no stress.
As a backgrounder, I have been doing my Visita Iglesia in the last five years. I am a Filipina who has been a resident of Switzerland in the last 18 years. I am divorced, have an only child, totally single in the last five years and I consider myself quite lucky to live in this beautiful country.

This year is the 6th year I am going to do my Visita Iglesia in Switzerland. Since, I told myself that I am not going to do it with stress this year -- I found myself going to Constance, Germany too.

In the olden times (during my younger years), I used to do Visita Iglesia with my Mother. The rule is, we have to go and visit 7 churches or chapels on Maundy Thursday by simple walking from church-to-church. We don't carry any food with us because there are some families who opens their houses -- offers the people going on Visita Iglesia some refreshments - bread, water, sago at gulaman, fruits and all for free as part of the home-owners house "panata" for a "pakain" on Visita Iglesia days.
But since, it's not a practice in Switzerland to have Visita Iglesia and I don't know many Filipinos still doing this, I decided to do it by myself.

One year, I go to Solothurn. Another year to Lucerne. Then St. Gallen. Of course, there is Bern. One time, I went to Schwyz, I visited all the Chapels I can find in the mountain --- alone. When Nikita was younger, she comes with me. But the last years, she decided to serve in our local Catholic Church during Good Friday as Minister of the Altar.

This year, I went alone --- to thank the Lord, to pray and to exercise. But since Holy Thursday here is still a working day, I went on Holy Friday.

1. St. Remigius Church at the Münsterlingen Hospital

This was formerly a Benedictine Abbey and part of it is converted into one of the biggest hospital in Canton Thurgau. The Abbey walls and houses are still there and so are the living place of the Nuns. They are known for their homeopathic remedies using lavenders.

St. Remigius Church, Münsterlingen (Former Benedictine Abbey)

Altar, St. Remigius Church

St. Anthony de Padua
Upon entering the Church, you will see that it has a gate before the main part of the Church. It's like you feel that you are not allowed to sit inside the Church except only during Mass. There are gilded bars separating the main part of the Church because everything inside that Church is so old, gilded with gold and done in Baroque style. There was a bust of St. John the Beloved facing the "gates". It was like a Greeks style of bust because The Saint was depicted smiling and he even has rosy lips and really nice brown hair. Sadly , I wasn't able to take its picture because there was a motion sensor all around the place. Much guarded that a Museum.

Fortunately, I saw a statue of St. Antonio de Padua at the entrance and I lighted a candle and prayed.

2. St. Ulrich Church in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
I took a bus to my next Church. Normally, there is only two Churches in town:

1. Roman Catholics

2. Protestant. So walking is not an option.

This Church was also formerly a Convent/Monastery and they took care of mentally ill patients. Now, the patients transferred to a bigger place in Munsterlingen.

Like Most Catholic Churches here, they have a gate in front of the altar which are only open when a mass id going on. 

St. Ulrich Church, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
At left side of the altar is a Chapel called Mount Calvary carved by St. Ulrich Abbey. The word work is totally awesome. Woods carved in the style of Baroque. It's all about the Passion of Jesus. What happened from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. The original scenery has 320 figures but during the fire of 1963, 44 figures were completely destroyed.

The Altar is really a great work of art but I bit dark because Spirituality in Germany and Switzerland has a common point ---they have an affinity for suffering and the dark aspects of religion.
Altar, St. Ulrich Church, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
The best thing I did in this Church was that I was able to pray the Rosary which I haven't done in years. Most of the people pray in Swiss-German, there are Albanians, Italians, Polish, Sri Lankans and me. We all prayed the rosary in our own languages. It sound like music to my ears. Different languages, different voices, different accents --- all praying the Virgin Mary.

3. The Holy Trinity Church, Constance GermanyMany important art works but this is becoming the center of the Catholic Charismatic Church in town - there are barriers or gate in the altar. This is were I usually light my candle when I go to Constance. It has the atmosphere of the Filipino Church --- always open, a bit modern.

Holy Trinity Church of Constance in Germany

Altar of Holy Trinity Church of Constance in Germany

4. St. Stephan Church of Constance, GermanyMaybe not Gothic but Neo-Classic. I attended the Veneration of the Cross there and there was a philharmonic orchestra to accompany a full- church choir. The music was super "HEAVENLY".

I am not a good singer. But with my falsetto voice - Church music suits me will. There were even people who smiled at me seemingly surprised that I can sing Latin.

St. Stephan Church of Constance in Germany
The odd thing about these Church is that banks faces one another. It was used before by the Catholic and Protestant Church on their services. When the Catholics have their Mass... they use the chairs facing the Altar with the Icons. After the Catholics, the protestant will use the Chairs facing their sparely decorated altar.

Now that was sharing.

Altar of St. Stephan Church of Constance in Germany

5. Constance Cathedral, Germany (Konstanzer Münster)

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 615 and adapted a Gothic Style in 1418 and 1525. The ceiling are high and grey. I came there and their Veneration of the Cross is not yet over. The Priests sang their ceremonies in Gregorian chants which are totally heavenly. I sit there and I felt that I am being hypnotized and I am getting so relaxed. The smell of the candles, the scent of the incense is a nice attack on the senses. The songs were sad --- JESUS IS DEAD! But I felt so at home.

Constance Cathedral of Germany - Konstanzer Münster

Altar of Constance Cathedral of Germany - Konstanzer Münster

6. St. Konrad Church, Contance, Germany
Very valuable church judging from the gilded gold gates, movement sensors. I can't go and kneel at the altar and can only light a candle outside the gate. It seems sad that not much people go there. Open only on Sundays for Masses.
St. Konrad Church, Contance, Germany

Altar of St. Konrad Church, Contance, Germany

7. St. John the Baptist Church, Romanshorn, SwitzerlandWhat better way to end my trip but to my home Church. It has the most wonderful veneration of the Cross I have seen. The wooden cross is draped in dark blue. We have sands under the cross and we transfer the sands to a bowl signifying that JESUS is DEAD.

Easter Sunday celebration at the Church of St. John the Baprtist. No more dark cloth on the cross.... a white one was draped. Under the cross were oatmeals we can take home signifying the SEED CAME OUT OF THE DARKNESS SO THAT WE MIGHT LIVE. HALLELUIA.

 St. John the Baptist Church, Romanshorn, Switzerland

 Altar of St. John the Baptist Church, Romanshorn, Switzerland
I am sure that I will still be doing this as long as I can. Maybe next year, in different country. I also prefer to do it alone although going out with a group may be fun. But for now, I find myself sometimes in awe of God just sitting there in front of the altar. I want to bask in the presence of my God.

Whatever happened to my water and power bars? Did not touch it... it's like a fasted for a whole day. I never felt hunger or thirst. My feet hurts though from walking but I guess when we are in the presence of God --- we hunger no more, we thirst no more. We are complete.


Contributed by Menchu Fuertes-Vettori
A Pinay in Switzerland - Samu't-Saring Kwento!

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