When we entered the Lebensweg above the Black Forest village of St. Ulrich, we did so from behind the church from which the village takes its name. It was founded by St. Ulrich himself almost a thousand years ago, and the monastery he started is still attached to the church where he is buried.
I find it difficult to pass up the opportunity to check out a church I haven’t seen before. Maybe it is because the Baptist churches of my childhood were rather plain – but I find a beauty in that plainness. So I spent some time in St. Ulrich’s taking pictures before we started our walk.
I had mixed feelings about. I found it rather overdone in terms of gilt – but I really liked the ceiling art.
Big churches in small communities are an expression of faith, on the part of those who built it. St. Ulrich’s certainly dominates the town. I wonder though how much their descendants adhere to those beliefs? The traditional German churches I have visited were poorly attended, just like their Canadian counterparts.
How do you keep faith alive and relevant in a building that is not suited for the needs of the community? True, I am making an assumption that this design is outmoded, but I saw an organ; I didn’t see guitar, bass or drums. On the church crawl we did on Corpus Christi day last month there were few people under 50 who turned out to hear the organ music. I don’t know what is relevant to younger Germans but I suspect classical organ isn’t on the list.
On our walk around the St. Ulrich area we passed several small shrines erected by Roman Catholics to show their devotion. There are many around Sulzburg too. But when I think of it, I haven’t seen any erected since the 19th century. What does that say about contemporary expressions of faith? Are they different, or non-existent?