Monday, August 22, 2011

Munich miscellany.

Written in the same spirit as a recent post on New Orleans and following up on my St. Ignatius' Day post, this post is a sort of photo-essay on the Sunday I spent in Munich at the end of July. Starting things off, the above photo was taken at the end of the Hochamt (High Mass) celebrating St. Ignatius' Day at the Jesuitenkirche St. Michael. As you can see, the Mass was a standing-room-only event; befitting the feast, the liturgy featured about a dozen servers in red cassocks and white surplices, lots of incense, and a Monteverdi Mass setting performed by a professional orchestra and choir.

At Neuhauser Straße 14, just down the street from St. Michael's, one finds the Bürgersaalkirche, longtime base of Jesuit Father Rupert Mayer (1876-1945). As a military chaplain during World War I, Father Mayer lost his left leg in a grenade attack and became the first Catholic priest to be awarded the Iron Cross. In the interwar years, he achieved great renown as a preacher, retreat director, and leader of the Marianische Männerkongregation, a men's sodality that served as a forerunner of today's Christian Life Communities. Already a foe of the Nazis in the 1920s, Father Mayer endured regular harassment and imprisonment under the Third Reich and spent most of World War II under house arrest at Ettal Abbey. Living just long enough to witness the defeat of Nazism and to regain his freedom, Father Mayer died of a stroke on All Saints' Day of 1945. In 1987, Rupert Mayer was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Here is the crypt of the Bürgersaalkirche, where Blessed Rupert Mayer is buried. Though things were relatively quiet when I stopped in on a Sunday morning, I could tell that Father Mayer receives many visitors. During the time I was in the crypt, a steady stream of locals came in, knelt for a brief prayer before the grave, and then went on their way. The few tourists who came in maintained a respectful silence, helping to keep the crypt a place of prayer.

The grave of Blessed Rupert Mayer.

A bust of Father Mayer in the crypt of the Bürgersaalkirche, rubbed to a shine by the hands of countless pilgrims.

A manhole cover in Munich's central Altstadt bearing the city's coat of arms. The stylized representation of a young monk (the Münchner Kindl) is a reminder that Munich was founded by Benedictines.

The main building of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), a place that I visited on account of its connection to the anti-Nazi resistance group known as Weiße Rose (White Rose), which was largely made up of LMU students.

The plaza in front of the LMU main building is named Geschwister-Scholl-Platz in honor of siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, Weiße Rose members who were arrested and executed by guillotine in February 1943 for distributing leaflets urging resistance to the Nazi regime.

Set into the stones of Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, this memorial to the members of Weiße Rose reproduces the group's anti-Nazi leaflets.

Directly across the street from Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, Professor-Huber-Platz is named for Kurt Huber, a professor of musicology and Weiße Rose member who was arrested shortly after the execution of the Scholl siblings and was killed a few months later.

On the door of a university building overlooking Professor-Huber-Platz, I noticed the traditional Epiphany inscription seen above. This was the only 'C+M+B' that I spotted during my brief visit to Munich, but I suspect that the tradition is still widely observed in heavily Roman Catholic Bavaria; having spent comparatively more time at both ends of Austria, I am happy to report that 'C+M+B' is chalked on many doors in Innsbruck and Vienna.

Continuing my pilgrimage, I traveled to the outskirts of Munch to visit the Friedhof am Perlacher Forst, where several Weiße Rose members are buried together with their families. The cemetery plot seen above contains the graves of Hans and Sophie Scholl as well as their parents Robert and Magdalena, together with their friend and fellow Weiße Rose member Christoph Probst (executed with the Scholls in February 1943) and his mother Katharina.

The graves of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Though Weiße Rose was not an explicitly religious group, its leading members were guided by shared Christian convictions. Lifelong Lutherans, Hans and Sophie Scholl also drew inspiration from the writings of Augustine, Aquinas and John Henry Newman.

The graves of Christoph Probst and his mother, Katharina Kleeblatt. Christoph Probst grew up in a secular and free-thinking household, which ensured that he would always be deeply skeptical of National Socialism but also deprived him of any religious roots. Partly thanks to his association with Weiße Rose and his reading and discussion of the Christian classics with the Scholls, Christoph Probst felt a growing attraction to Catholicism and was received into the Church shortly before his death in Munich's Stadelheim Prison.

Not far from the final resting place of Christoph Probst and the Scholl siblings lies the grave of the man who brought Probst and the Scholls together: Alexander Schmorell was a high school classmate and close friend of Christoph Probst and met Hans Scholl during compulsory military service. Schmorell later introduced Probst to the Scholls, and eventually all four became active members of Weiße Rose. Arrested shortly after the execution of the Scholls, Schmorell was guillotined alongside Professor Karl Huber in July 1943. Alexander Schmorell is buried with his father and stepmother, Hugo and Elisabeth Schmorell.

This three-bar cross appears at the base of Alexander Schmorell's headstone. The son of a German father and a Russian mother, Alexander Schmorell always remained faithful to the Orthodox faith of his mother (who died of typhus while he was still an infant) even though his father was a Protestant and his stepmother and siblings were Catholic. As Jim Forest notes in a fine article about Schmorell and his ties to Weiße Rose, efforts are underway to have Alexander Schmorell recognized as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Not directly related to Weiße Rose but in the same cemetery, here is a memorial ground containing the remains of 4092 victims of the Nazi regime; the dead whose ashes are buried here include people who were imprisoned at the nearby concentration camp in Dachau as well as victims of Nazi euthanasia policies. The inscription written around the pool in the center of this photo reads, Den Toten zur Ehre, den Lebenden zur Mahnung, which may be translated, "To honor the dead, [and] to always warn the living."

Another inscription, this one noting who is buried in the above space. My translation: "Here are 4092 victims of Nazi despotism laid to final rest." To this I can only add: may their memory be eternal.

The above photos capture much of what I saw during an exceedingly brief visit to Munich. I only spent about six hours in the Bavarian capital, but I was sufficiently captivated, intrigued, and moved by what I saw that I hope to return. Please say a prayer for me that I may make it there again. AMDG.


At 8/25/2011 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Benedictines' services to the people of Munich went beyond founding the city. They also founded superb breweries at several monasteries in the Munich area including the one at Kloster Andechs.

If I may ask, are there any Jesuit-operated breweries?


At 8/25/2011 5:00 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Of course, I didn't mean to suggest that the monks' *only* contribution was to found the city - they've done a lot more since, breweries included.

As for Jesuit breweries, I would not be surprised if they have existed somewhere at some time. There have certainly been Jesuit wineries, e.g. one at the old Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, which still functions (and still sells wine under the 'Novitiate' label) but is no longer operated by Jesuits (I believe the Society still owns the land and rents it out - I could be mistaken, though).

At 8/26/2011 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the dearly beloved monks who was my teacher, who had a PhD and spoke 14 languages, spent a year and change as an "exchange scholar" at Kloster Andechs. Years later he would recount with great happiness how not much liking beer he'd used his allowance with the monastery brewery to buy beer for token sums and given it to workers doing construction work on the streets. They loved him.

If it interests you, your Society made and distributed beer in Quebec City hundreds of years ago, when beer apparently was prized because it protected against scurvy.


At 8/27/2011 7:31 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thanks for the update on Jesuit beer - very interesting. I can only add that I have known of some Jesuits who produced beer for home consumption, but this account from Quebec City is the first I've heard of it being distributed publicly. There may be others...

At 11/08/2012 1:54 AM, Anonymous Michael A. Cavanaugh said...

In only 6 hours, you got around! From St Michael's to LMU & then Stadelheim.

We did not know this at the time, but the Weisse Rose martyrs were buried just over the wall from my elementary school. (This was the early 60's, I think they were not then so widely known.) When later in life I encountered the tale, I knew immediately where this grave was. (Have visited it since, too; very thought-provoking. The Hitler regime had people guillotined a stone's throw from our playground.) Today they are remembered; there have been several films, plus the monuments at the U, & just on the street this summer between the U and the Englischer Garten, I saw a new monument to them.

At 11/08/2012 3:13 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Yes, I definitely covered a lot of ground in six hours. What I didn't mention in the original post is that I had come for the day from Salzburg, where I had gone for the Festspiele. I had concert tickets for both Saturday and Sunday nights, so to fit the Munich trip in I had to catch an early train on Sunday and then catch a late-afternoon train back to Salzburg in order to get to the Festspielhaus in time to take my seat. A lot of running around for one day, but great memories.

At 2/28/2013 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First I wish you the best on your path to ordination. I graduated from Jesuit High School in Louisiana. A wonderful experience. The pictures you shared were great. I have been to Munich several times. I always make a point to stop at Blessed Mayers grave. The last time was 2004. Your pictures bring back many memories. Thank you again.

At 12/09/2013 3:30 PM, Anonymous Kanina Cox said...

Father Rupert Mayer has performed 3 miracles in our family. We truly believe he is a saint. My mom is from Munich and it us her/ our mission to visit Bürgersaalkirche every time we visit München. My question, how and to whom do we write to tell our experiences of miracles? I would love for my mom to see the day he is beatified.

At 12/09/2013 3:33 PM, Anonymous Kanina Cox said...

As do we. It is our first stop when we go back to my mother's homeland. We always light novena's and spend hours praying. It's a profound and freeing experience.


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