Soviodurum, and a Mysterious Stone Object

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Roman knee and shin guards with intricate details

I had the chance to visit Straubing, a small town along the Danube in Lower Bavaria – basically I was there on business, but arrived a few hours earlier in order to see the Roman exhibit at the town museum. As Straubing (Soviodurum) was along the Limes and had a military station there, the museum had quite a bit to offer. Perhaps not as much as Passau or even Fliess in Tirol, but a nice exhibit nonetheless.

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Head protection for Roman horses

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Roman glassware found in Straubing, Bavaria

I had never considered whether the Romans used glass, since so often one sees only ceramics. The designs are downright modern.

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A stash of coins hidden before the collapse

This found stash of coins, like many others discovered south of the Limes, reminds one of how it ended: things looked bad, treasures were buried, things indeed got very bad, and the owners never returned to the site to reclaim their property.

The photo below was made earlier and is not from Straubing. Knowing that I was going to be spending some time in Lower Bavaria, I had done a little advance research for any mention of early, pre-Roman history of the area, and stumbled across a fleeting reference to a schalenstein in the Passau Rathaus from 1899. ( I did wander a bit through the public areas of this town hall, but did not see anyone who looked like they might know what I was talking about if I should ask.) Later, however, I took a walk up to the fortress overlooking Passau and came across this.

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What could this be?

Which is, well, technically, a schalenstein (it’s stone, and it has cup markings)
but to me looks more like something made much later. There are what appear to be charcoal markings inside. It is simply built into the wall in one of the towers, with no explanation.

The Jewish Cemetery at St. Ottilien

Near the Ammersee lies a Benedictine Monastery named for St. Ottilien, or St. Odile of Alsace (A recounting of St. Odile’s life on Wikipedia reads somewhat like a season wrap-up of Game of Thrones.) If you find yourself near the small St. Ottilien train station, you will see a small enclosed garden whose iron gate bears a Star of David. This is the Jewish Cemetery.
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In April 1941 the Gestapo confiscated the St. Ottilien Cloister and set up a reserve field hospital there. American troops liberated hospital, overfilled with almost 1,000 war injured, in 1945. Through the work of the Americans, about 450 gravely ill Jews liberated from concentration camps began to be brought to the hospital and nearby school buildings for medical care.
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The US Army erected a Displaced Persons hospital, supervised by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, here in May 1945 to handle the constant stream of former camp inmates. The patients were mostly surviving camp inmates and forced laborers from the Kaufering camp complex, and ill persons from the camp at Dachau and its sub-camps in the Landsberg/Lech area. A Jewish community existed on the cloister grounds, tending to its own religious life and customs, until the hospital was dissolved in 1948. These were people who congregated here, then, for lack of the health and strength to go home, or for lack of a home to go to. Some recovered, and some died in spite of treatment from Allied medics, and those are the people who were buried here.
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65 people were interred in the cemetery between 1945 and 1948. The first gravestone, bearing a Star of David and nine names, was erected in 1945. By 1950 there were four memorials and twelve gravestones with names and texts in Hebrew, as well as an enclosing wall with its iron gate, and a bench. The gravestones were moved to the edges of the premises in 1968 after several exhumations and transferals of remains. Since 1972 the camp cemetery has held the remains of 46 camp inmates and nine forced laborers. The people resting here came from Germany, Hungary, Poland, Italy, France and Russia; most are known by name. According to the cemetery records at St. Ottilien, 10 of them belonged to Christian confessions:  one Evangelical Lutheran, one Reformed, three Orthodox Catholics and five Roman Catholics.

The camp cemetery in St. Ottilien is a protected cultural site, and its care is overseen by the Bavarian Memorial Foundation (Stiftung Bayerische Gedenkstätten.) The monastery publishes a small and inexpensive guide to the cemetery in both German and English, which includes explanations of the Hebrew tombstone inscriptions.

Circumitus: Batavis, Boiodurum

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(The name actually refers to the bicycle route and is not, apparently, what the Romans called it.)

This posting hails from the other side of Bavaria, a “detour” onto the Roman road which follows the Danube and also the boundary separating the Roman Empire (in this case, the province of Raetia) from the Germanic Marcomanni to the north. This border is known as the Limes, and covered the lands on all sides of the Mediterranean Sea, in one form or another.

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The Roman Museum in Passau is built on the site of one of the fortified structures from the Roman period, Boiodurum. This name, like many Roman sites in Germany is apparently of Celtic origin. There were people settled on Passau’s peninsula long before even the official founding date of Rome, but according to archaeological finds they were gone, or least no longer present in sufficient numbers (discontinuity), by the time the Romans arrived; no signs of destruction or conflict have been found either. This brings me to something I have been thinking about ever since I started looking at early European history: the way some history texts tell it, the reader can get the impression that the Romans simply arrived one day –  cutting through virgin land with their swords and putting down roads to get to their provincial capitals which had also just appeared out of thin air. Just as there had been settlements here before, and some infrastructure (mule paths over the Alps), there surely must have been some Roman presence here long before as well, even if only in the form of tradesmen or scouts. Polybius made remarks about the Raetians over a century before the transalpine road plans went into effect.

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The museum found a creative way to present the Tabula Peutingeriana in a large enough size to actually read it.

There were plenty of Roman soldiers in this “three rivers” area, but other people as well, judging from excavation finds. Below is a type of “diploma” awarded to a Roman soldier after completing his 25-year service (if he survived that long). He got some money and a little set of engraved dog tags, threaded together with wire like a spiral notebook, according him privilege wherever he went. Did Claudius Paternus Clementianus of Epfach possess one of these? Probably.

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Part of a roof tile found in the ruins of the Roman Boiodurum fortress at Passau, delightfully marred by a paw print before it was dry.

In Passau one may find a little light shed on the continuity of the place after the Romans withdrew. Roman troops at Boiodurum were among the last to stick it out along the Limes, after other frontier posts had already fallen. Eugippius says that a small group set out for Rome to collect the soldiers’ last pay but were killed by Barbarians, unbeknownst to those remaining and waiting for their return. Eugippius’ biography of St. Severinus mentions “people” – probably both Romans and Romanized Raetians – holing up together in Batavis (the fortified Roman settlement in Passau, on the hill where, not coincidentally, the Cathedral now stands) and defeating the invaders before being urged to leave for safety at Lauriacum (Enns). Eugippus also mentions St. Severinus founding a small monastery at “Boiotro”, most certainly using the existing Boiodurum fortress walls.

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A last sign of the Roman Empire’s long march toward being the Holy Roman Empire: not St. Severinus, but the Holy Bishop Valentin of Noricum (Roman province of Salzburg), who came to Raetia as a missionary. The silver box below his image is said to hold his relics. My understanding of the “Dark Ages” seems to have been a little wrong until now – it was certainly chaotic, violent,  in flux, and certainly dark to live in — but not completely shrouded in misty Unknown. The information is there, you just have to look for it.

In via: Abodiacum

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There’s more to Epfach, an unassuming little village along the Lech, than first meets the eye. It’s a very, very old settlement, in fact. Older, even, then most German towns — Munich, for example, was first established in the 12th century. Epfach, apparently originally a Celtic settlement, was ideally situated to serve as a station along the Via Claudia Augusta in the Roman province of Raetia. It’s Roman name was Abodiacum, (or Abodiaco, as it’s found on the Tabula Peutingeriana).
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The Tabula Peutingeriana, in fact, has two Abodiacos: they are the same village. It stands at the crossroads of two Roman roads : the Via Claudia Augusta, where it’s just after the  station ‘ad novas’ on the road out of Augusta Vindelicum/Augsburg, and the salt road that partly connected Lake Constance (Brigantium) to Salzburg (Iuvavum).
Visitors to Epfach will first see that the north-south road through town is marked as the Via Claudia. Right on this road stands the local museum, which provides information on Epfach’s Roman history, all in a space about as big as my living room. Of particular interest is an exhibit on Epfach’s first internationally renowned local homeboy, Claudius Paternus Clementianus.
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CPC was a Celt with Roman citizenship through his father, which allowed him to serve in the Roman army as an officer. His career took him to Hungary, Romania, Judea (where he served as Procurator there just 80 years after Pontius Pilate held that job, long enough afterward to have probably never heard of him), Sardinia and Northern Africa, before he came home to retire and presumably spend his golden years fishing on the Lech and downing the local wines.

Tripoli, Libya - Roman Mosaic, National Museum, Fishermen

Tripoli, Libya – Roman Mosaic, National Museum, Fishermen

He may have had the good fortune to enjoy his twilight years secure in the belief that the Empire was strong. It was another hundred years before Alemanni tribes began sacking the settlement, followed by the Romans rebuilding it, in turns. The northern frontier (Limes) remained in operation until sometime in the 5th century C.E. Then again, as a Celt, maybe he would have been happy with the eventual outcome.

While Epfach is not on the Via Raetia, there is a connection nevertheless. The Tabula Peutingeriana, a Middle-Ages copy of a late Roman roadmap of the Empire, shows neither the Via Claudia Augusta nor the Via Raetia in their entireties, but rather an amalgam of the two — the route shown follows the VCA leaving Augusta Vindelicum/Augsburg until Epfach/Abodiaco, detours east on the above-mentioned salt road and then resumes its southward way on the newer Via Raetia at Urusa/Raisting (the next stop listed is Coveliacas, near the Staffelsee). This variant may have turned out to have been shorter, the easiest to maintain (the Via Claudia Augusta, in my opinion, goes over much more precarious mountain territory than the Via Raetia), or had better stations, or better connection, or a combination of any of that.

Aside from the museum (open every day, and if it’s not you can ask for the key at the restaurant next door), you can walk to the Lorenzberg, the hill where the Roman military station was located. Epfach seems to have geared its tourism to the Via Claudia cyclists, who can take a break at the restaurant, stop into the museum, walk off lunch with a short visit to the Lorenzberg, and then continue on their way.

A Idea of Mine

I have a confession to make. Beyond all the other things I am doing right now – singing, translating, assisting in a bookselling business – I have a project in mind for the future. I want to put together a guidebook for the Via Raetia.
There are guides and books for following the Via Claudia Augusta, the first Roman-made road to cross the Alps in this region, but I have yet to find a modern tourist guide in English for it’s younger sister, the Via Raetia. The Via Claudia has an “official” route which one can follow ona bike, and much of it may accurately follow the old road. The Via Raetia does not, and here you can see why:
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Clearly one can’t just go traipsing across private property, let alone tell others to do so.

Walking, cycling, sights along the way, history, archaeology, culture, on the route between Augsburg and… well, how comprehensive do I want this to be? I could keep it within Bavaria (Augsburg to Mittenwald) or publish installments (Part 2, North Tyrol from Mittenwald to the Brenner Pass, Part 3 Italy: Brennero to Verona). Even if I had no other work, this would take a few years of research, travel, exploration. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to do it. (Note to any publishing houses: I’m here, “boots on the ground”, if you are considering something along these lines from a distance.)

But all this will have to wait another year at least, because for professional reasons I am going to be spending a considerable amount of time at the other end of Bavaria, namely closer to the Czech border.

Image from Google maps.

Weekend Mountain Blogging: Maria Tax – Wolfsklamm

IMG_2034 A half-day hike above Stans to the Maria Tax Chapel. Taxen  is an old regional word for Tannen, or fir tree. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary made an appearance here in 1616,  leaving behind her handprint on a stone, a picture of which was then attached to a tree for people to come and revere it. So we have here both a stone and a tree of religious importance (I was able to find neither, unless the stone is now part of the fountain behind the chapel*.) IMG_2038 In 1627 a wooden chapel was built, in 1667 a stone one. In the same year the first hermit moved into the sacristy. IMG_2043 Sacred trees were a thing with the pre-Christian inhabitants all over Europe. Christianity treated the worship of trees as idolatry and this led to their deliberate destruction. From this site I learned a little more (translation mine):

When St. Boniface took an axe to the sacred Donar’s Oak at Geismar, Germany in 724, and didn’t get struck by lightning for it, he was able to proclaim the victory of Christianity. One sacred tree after another fell, and the Teutons were forced to drop their local religion and accept Christianity. Nevertheless many may not have forgiven Boniface for this desecration; he was slain 754 by the Frisians. According to many legends, when a sacred tree is cut, it bleeds from the sacrilege. Therefore the woodcutter asks the tree for forgiveness before cutting it. And many legends report of cruel punishments for messing with sacred trees . Ultimately behind such legends is the idea of the tree as seat of the Godhead. From a fiery burning bush God speaks to Moses; to Joan of Arc from the branches of a tree. The Buddha’s enlightenment takes place under a tree. The old-rooted idea of the sanctity of trees survived within Christianity and continues in myths and legends of holy images on or in trees. Particularly frequently encountered are sightings of Mary, or her image, in a tree. Many names of pilgrimages hold the discovery of a miraculous image in trees, such as “Mary of the linden”, “Mary of the fir tree”, “Mary in the hazel”,  “Mary of the larch”…

IMG_2045 Further along on the trail, a pair of Steinmänner guard the way. IMG_2050 Thirty minutes later, the St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey looms above. I’ve been here before, but it’s getting late and so I turn in the direction of home by way of the Wolfsklamm. IMG_2052 An army of Steinmänner! It’s like an Alpine version of the Terracotta Warriors, or the Kodama tree spirits in “Princess Mononoke”. How delightful and unexpected. IMG_2057 IMG_2061 The Wolfsklamm in Stans has been renovated and, apparently, re-routed, in that the path through it no longer involves the pitch-black tunnels that I recall from my previous visit. Too bad, because they were fun in a scary way (it was the the first time I ever used my old cell phone as a flashlight out of sheer necessity). It’s possible that someone complained. [Sorry, that’s the Partenachklamm! But the Wolfsklamm bridges have all been rebuilt with sturdy new boards.] But the gorge is still impressive and well worth the €4,50 “toll”.

*The Schwazer Heimatblätter suggests a different origin: that the St. Georgenberg Abbey was having an image problem with pilgrims, due to a prominent prisoner being kept there.  It’s suspected that the monks themselves started the Mary-was-here story in order to keep the pilgrimages coming — that kind of thing is profitable for monasteries, after all.

Weekend Mountain Blogging: Mittenwald, Scharnitz, Seefeld

IMG_1999I needed to go to Mittenwald because of something I’d promised to do, and since I had the day free it seemed like a good idea to get some hiking in along with some sights.
As there’s only so much ground one can cover in an afternoon, I broke up the journey with short train rides. First, to Mittenwald.

IMG_1992Every so often, a sign that I’m on the old original Roman road. In tracing the route over the Alps one has the advantages and disadvantages of the landscape. Humans are practical above everything: the first mule paths made by the more ancient inhabitants followed the easiest ways over. The Romans built mainly on these existing paths because they were there (once they got onto more open land they had more options). After the Roman retreat in the 4th century CE, the roads remained and continued to be used for trade, later providing for much of the route of the Via Imperii during the years of the Holy Roman Empire. And so on, through the ages, until that ancient road over the mountains is now mostly (not completely) under the B2.

IMG_1995From Mittenwald I walked parallel to the B2 on a quieter trail, to get a sense of what Goethe may have felt when he came through here for the first time, in 1786.

Left Mittelwald at 6, clear sky, a keen wind blowing, and the kind of cold only allowed in February. The near slopes dark and covered in spruce, the grey limestone cliffs, the highest white peaks against the beautiful blue of the sky made exquisite, constantly changing pictures. Near Scharnitz you get into the Tyrol and the border is closed with a rampart that seals off the valley and joins up with the mountains. It looks very fine. One one side the cliff is fortified, on the other it just goes steeply up.

IMG_1996The fortification to which Goethe refers is the Porta Claudia, built in the 17th century and named for Claudia di Medici.
Back on the train, next stop Seefeld in Tirol.

IMG_1998“Bee Hotel”

I had seen this path many times from the window of the train, and often wondered what the signs said. Were they historical markers?  No, the trail is all about bees and honey!

This bee-themed nature trail ended at Reith bei Seefeld. From there a late-afternoon train brought me back to Innsbruck.

A Stone Marker on the West Bank of the Ammersee

Sometimes the act of looking up one thing takes me to another things, and then something else altogether. This post, for example.

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This is a path on the west bank of the Ammersee between Utting and Schondorf. The stone column seen on the left bears information about a Roman-era bath house with living quarters, which stood here between the 2nd and 4th centuries C.E.
The building was made from volcanic tuff, brick, wooden posts and mosaic, and its walls were painted with frescoes. It had living quarters and bathing facilities, including a changing room (apodyterion), and baths with hot (caldarium), warm (tepidarium), and cold water (frigidarium), achieved with an underfloor heating system (hypokauste).

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This home-spa belonged to a very nice villa and farm (villa rustica) which once stood a little further up the hill. Situated conveniently near both the east-west Via Julia (Augsburg – Salzburg) and the north-south Via Claudia*, the villa had access roads leading to connecting roads on high ground west of the lake and to the Lech valley further west. It would have provided impressive views of the lake and the mountain range beyond.

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According to the plaque, the foundations were excavated in 1924 by one Dr. Blendinger along with his students. Dr. Heinrich Blendinger was director of the nearby boarding school Landheim Schondorf. In 1934 he took over the über-elite Schule Schloss Salem (Salem Castle School) in Baden-Württemberg, just north of Lake Constance. That school has kind and grateful words about Blendinger on their website, giving him credit for the school’s survival through the Third Reich years. A scholarship is given in his name.
According to other sources, Blendinger was not so much “keeping Nazi influence at bay” as he would have one believe from his published memoirs, but an excellent educator who also had impeccable Nazi credentials, and who took over direction of the school after Hahn’s very Nazi successor made a mess of things. All in all one gets the impression he was, if not quite Oskar Schindler, something like that. Former students remembered that under Blendinger’s administration, the school had no racial-idealogy studies, no mandatory wearing of the swastika, and they greeted each other with “Guten Tag” and not “Heil Hitler”. That alone says much about the climate in the school, constantly under threat of being dissolved and turned into a military school.

Somewhat related to the topic: Christoph Probst, member of the resistance group White Rose, attended Landheim Schondorf at age 17 in 1936. As did (around 12 years earlier) Helmuth Graf von Moltke, who had assisted the White Rose in getting flyers to the Allies for distribution over Germany. Another White Rose sympathizer, Jürgen Wittenstein, attended Salem Castle School during Blendinger’s tenure there. He is living in the United States.

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*The plaque mentions the Via Claudia as being the road “to Brenner”, which is not clear. The actual Via Claudia ran further west of here along the Lech River and over the Alps at the Reschen Pass. The road now called Via Raetia, which is much closer to this place, does go over the Brenner Pass but was built around 100 years later, and seems to have had no name at the time. It is possible that the new road then took over the official route name, much like highways do today, but I haven’t seen that before in connection to these two roads.

The Odd (and Beautiful) Nikolauskirche in Hall // Die seltsame (und schöne) Nikolauskirche in Hall

Dear Reader, I did this little trip to Hall in Tirol more for me than for you, as I knew I needed to get out of the house. Three straight months of rehearsals for three different productions, plus teaching private lessons, left very little time for blog-related excursions (and I was off to Germany any time I had two consecutive days free). Now that I have a little more time, I’ve got to make myself get back outside.
I have been to the St. Nikolaus Parish Church before, once just to look inside, once to sing a mass. But Paschberg recently brought to my attention the existence of its Waldauf Chapel, which we’ll get to in a bit…
Liebe Leser, ich habe diesen kleinen Ausflug nach Hall in Tirol mehr für mich als für sie gemacht, da ich merkte, ich brauche was um rauszukommen.
Drei harte Monate des Probens für drei verschiedene Produktionen sowie das Halten von Privatunterricht, ließ sehr wenig Zeit für blogbezogene Ausflüge übrig (und ich war jedes Mal, an dem ich zwei aufeinanderfolgenden Tagen frei hatte, in Deutschland). Jetzt, wo ich wieder ein wenig mehr Zeit, habe ich mir diese auch genommen um ins Freie zu kommen.
Ich bin schon früher in der Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus gewesen, einmal einen Blick ins Innere zu werfen, einmal um eine Messe singen. Aber Paschberg hat mich vor kurzem auf die Existenz seiner Waldauf Kapelle aufmerksam gemacht, die wir uns nun ansehen werden…

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From the entrance the visitor can see that the chancel is not aligned with the rest of the building. The chancel is actually part of the earlier incarnation of the building, which by the early 15th century was too small for the growing local population. A wider, longer nave was built but could not be extended out directly in line with the chancel, and so the church has this odd “kink” in its interior.
Vom Eingang kann der Besucher sehen, dass der Chor nicht mit dem Rest des Gebäudes ausgerichtet ist. Der Chor ist eigentlich ein älterer Teil des Gebäudes, das Anfang des 15. Jahrhunderts für die wachsende Bevölkerung zu klein wurde. Ein breiteres, längeres Langhaus wurde gebaut, aber nicht in direkter Übereinstimmung mit der Flucht des Altarraums, so dass die Kirche diesen seltsame “Knick” in ihrem Inneren bekam.

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On the north wall, an apparently complete skeleton, dressed in Baroque finery, over an alter to St. Catherine (Katharinenaltar), but I don’t who this would be behind the glass. S/he is flanked by alleged relics of Ss. Constantine and Agapitus, ensconced in their own wall niches.
An der Nordwand, findet man ein scheinbar vollständiges Skelett, im Barockornat gekleidet, auf einem Altar der Hl. Katharina (Katharinenaltar), aber ich weiß nicht, wir hinter dem Glas ist. Er / sie wird von angeblichen Reliquien der Hln. Konstantin und Agapitus flankiert, in eigene Wandnischen eingesetzt.

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Further along in the north transept one enters the Waldaufkapelle, named after one Florian von Waldauf, the 15th-century knight who had the chapel built and who donated his massive collection of holy relics, picked up here and there during his extensive travels.
Im weiteren Verlauf in des nördlichen Querschiffs betritt man die Waldaufkapelle, nach einem Herrn Florian von Waldauf benannt, Ritter aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, der die Kapelle gebaut hatte und der seine riesige Sammlung von heiligen Reliquien gespendet hatte, die er hie und da während seiner zahlreichen Reisen erstand.

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Among the dozens of adult skulls (and some long bones) sits a very small child’s skull with the word  S Innocentibus* embroidered on its pillow. Who all these saints really were, I don’t know. The Niklauskirche is being renovated but its doors are open to visitors.
Unter den Dutzenden von Erwachsenenschädeln (und einigen langen Knochen) sitzt ein sehr kleiner Kinderschädel mit dem Wort S Innocentibus * auf sein Kissen gestickt. Wer all diese Heiligen wirklich waren, weiß ich nicht. Die Niklauskirche wird renoviert, aber ihre Pforten für Besucher geöffnet sind.

* Reader Joe informs me that this name signifies one of the Holy Innocents, the children killed by Herod shortly after the birth of Jesus. The church’s official guide booklet states that the relics come predominantly from the Roman catacombs.// Reader Joe teilt mir mit, dass dieser Name für eines der unschuldigen Kinder steht, die Herodes kurz nach der Geburt Jesu töten ließ. Im offiziellen Faltblatt der Kirche steht, dass die Reliquien vorwiegend aus den römischen Katakomben kommen.

Forgotten Bavaria: St. Johannes auf der Bergerin

IMG_1713(What’s left of a few signs which may have once indicated the original site./ Was von den Resten übrig blieb, die einmal den ursprünglichen Standort angedeutet haben könnten.)

Many centuries ago, west of the Ammersee in southern Bavaria, the main road from Diessen to Entraching crossed the road from Utting to Dettenschwang about right here in this forest. It was more meadow then, with a hermitage and a cemetery near the church.
Vor vielen Jahrhunderten kreuzte sich westlich des Ammersees in Südbayern die Hauptstraße von Dießen nach Entraching und die Straße von Utting nach Dettenschwang ungefähr hier, in diesem Wald. Damals war es eher eine Wiese, mit einer Kapelle und einem Friedhof daneben.

According to this article in the Augsburg newpaper, a local priest named Karl Emerich is credited for rediscovering the site of the church in 1916, a good hundred years after it had burned down in a fire and been forgotten. Father Emerich posited the theory that the place had been held sacred in pre-Christian times. “It is well known that the German Pagans liked their sacred sites in forests and groves.” The early Christian missionaries “preferred to convert pagan holy sites to Christian ones, and as there was a splendid spring nearby, which may have had religious significance,” they would have found it convenient to build a church here where the local people were used to coming, wrote Emerich.
Nach diesem Artikel aus der Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung ist die Wiederentdeckung des Standorts der Kirche im Jahre 1916, gut hundert Jahre, nachdem sie abbrannte und vergessen wurde, einem örtlichen Priester namens Karl Emerich zu verdanken. Pater Emerich vertrat die Theorie, dass der Ort bereits in vorchristlicher Zeit heilig war.”Die heidnischen Deutschen hatten bekanntlich ihre Heiligtümer gerne in Wäldern und Hainen”. Die christlichen Missionare hätten mit Vorliebe “heidnische Heiligtümer in christliche umgewandelt, und da sich eine prächtige Quelle vorfand, die vielleicht schon im heidnischen Kultus Bedeutung hatte, so lag für die Missionäre wohl nichts näher, als diesen Platz zu einer christlichen Kultusstätte und zwar zu einem Tauforte einzurichten, denn hier strömten die Umwohner ohnehin aus alter Gewohnheit zusammen zu ihren heidnischen Opfern (…)” – so Emerich.

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Just down the main road is the rebuilt Johannesbrunnen with some information about the church and its spring. In 1718 the water was declared to hold healing powers. In the mid-eighteenth century it was reported that poachers kept breaking the the church windows and stealing the lead, in order to make bullets from it, and in 1759 Bavarian Elector Maximilian III Joseph arrived with his entourage and stayed around to hunt wild boar. By the end of the century the hermitage was down to just one hermit, and in 1802 the structures were destroyed in a fire.
Gerade am Ende der Hauptstraße steht der wieder errichtete Johannesbrunnen mit einigen Informationstafeln über die Kirche und ihre Quelle. Im Jahre 1718 wurde diese als Heilquelle anerkannt. In der Mitte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts wurde berichtet, dass Wilderer die Kirchenfenster zerbrachen um die Bleifassungen zu Gewehrkugeln zu verarbeiten. Im Jahre 1759 weilte der bayerische Kurfürsten Maximilian III. Joseph mit seinem Gefolge dort, um Wildschweine zu jagen. Am Ende des Jahrhunderts war die Kapelle bis auf einen verbliebenen Einsiedler heruntergewirtschaftet, und im Jahr 1802 wurde das Gebäude bei einem Brand zerstört.

Now only the fountain remains, and a pretty forest of beech and spruce trees behind it. The site where the church once stood is now occupied by oak trees, which took root there there after the fire.
Heute zeugt nur mehr der Brunnen davon – und ein hübscher Wald aus Buchen und Fichten dahinter. Der Ort, an dem die Kirche stand stehen heute noch Eichen, die nach dem Brand dort aufkamen.