Monday, 25 February 2008

Erfurt's Augustinerkloster becomes part of the community of the cross of nails

Cross maker dies, aged 80
Today was the anniversary of a 1945 bomb attack on Erfurt in which 268 people died in the cellar in which they were sheltering.
Bishop Axel Noack led a service of commemoration in the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt during which a cross of nails from Coventry Cathedral was given to the former monastery which will become a centre of the community of the cross of nails.
I grew up near Coventry with its old war-ruined cathedral open to the sky, the walk from the old to the new cathedral is powerful and impressive. (The official guide says it is to walk from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.) The international reconciliation work which has reached out from the cathedral through the community of the cross of nails since the war is practical, down to earth and deeply spiritual.
When I went to live in East Germany in summer 1989 I spent my first week in the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt. It is a beautiful city and the monastery was the place where Martin Luther took his final vows as a monk. I seem to vaguely remember that Jan Hus also took his final vows there, but maybe not.
After a week in the sublime city of Erfurt I went to stay with Axel and Gisela Noack in one of East Germany's most polluted towns near Bitterfeld. I later spent 6 months working with them at the gentle and not so gentle work of looking after a parish at a time of enormous change after the Berlin wall came down.
So as I feel nostalgia for those times - and my youth - I'm pleased that today Axel received a powerful symbol of reconciliation from my home region.
More about the community of the cross of nails later in the week.