01 April 2020, The Tablet

Bavarian priest promises annual St Corona procession

Bavarian priest promises annual St Corona procession

Restorer Luke Jonathan Koeppe and Birgitta Falk, an official of the cathedral in Aachen, Germany, assemble the shrine with the relics of St Corona.
CNS photo/Thilo Schmuelgen, Reuters

The parish priest of Sauerlach in Bavaria, Fr Josef Steinberger, has promised to organise an annual procession to a small chapel dedicated to St Corona in a nearby forest on 14 May each year, the date of St Corona’s feastday, “when everything is over”, that is after the pandemic.

Little notice had been taken of the small St Corona chapel which was built 350 years ago until recently. Only very occasionally a passerby would light the candle in the glass candle holder on the small altar. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, however, “people from all over” were coming to the chapel and lighting candles, so that the chapel was now full of burning candles, according to Helmut Berthold, a local chronicler.

Two Greek Orthodox priests, Apostolos Malamoussis and Georgios Vletsis, from Munich had recently visited the chapel. After praying to St. Corona and asking her to help fight the pandemic, Malamoussis announced that he wanted to donate an icon of the early Christian martyr (St Corona was martyred at the age of sixteen in Syria in the second century) to the chapel. The icon is now on show for the next 40 days on the altar of All Saints (Allerheiligen) church in Munich.

Meanwhile a trumpeter from St George’s (Sankt Georgen) church at Bayreuth in Bavaria, famous for its annual Bayreuth festival of Wagner operas, has revived the old custom of trumpet fanfares from the roof of the church to signal that Mass is being celebrated.

“Now that the general public cannot attend Mass in church, we at St George’s thought it very important to alert the faithful at those times when public Mass would usually have been said. Moreover, we wanted to do so in a way that was clearly sensually perceptible and not via the internet. And thus we hit on the idea that I should climb up on to the church tower with my trumpet and blast a chorale into all four points of the compass”, Michael Lippert, deanery cantor at St George’s, told domradio.de.

He came from a small town in the mountains near Bayreuth where up to 30 or 40 years ago it was usual – especially on summer weekends – for the trombone band to climb up on to the church tower and give chorale concerts, Lippert recalled. Unfortunately, this tradition had declined, he said, but added: “In the present coronavirus situation, I suddenly remembered it and luckily I also play the trumpet besides the organ and piano and so I was able to reintroduce it.” 

On Sunday, 22 March, therefore, he had climbed up on to the tower of St George’s and when the bells had finished ringing, blasted “Jesus, my Joy” by Bach  in all four directions – north, south, east and west. “Luckily we have a church tower that has a parapet up by the belfry which one can walk right round on the outside. Thus, finding a place to blast one’s trumpet into the four points of the compass is quite easy”.

The few people out – especially those walking around the nearby graveyard – were most impressed, Lippert said. “It was something they had not reckoned with and when one hears the sound of a trumpet echoing all around the town, that is very moving.”

St George’s intends to keep the custom up over Easter.





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