Susan Braghieri

Writer, traveller and book lover

The Church in the Meadow, Bavaria

The Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour, Wies, Steingaden

The altar

There are those moments when you are travelling, and you come across the unexpected. Moments that take hold of you and stay with you long after you experience them. Such was the case when my husband and I visited the Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour, Wies — also known as the Church in the Meadow, in Bavaria, Germany. Our friends from Munich told us this church was well worth the stop on our way to Füssen and the Neuschwanstein Castle.

The church is in a rural area surrounded by lush green fields, and on the day we visited, there was misty rain and fog hanging heavy in the air. Even though it was spring, it was a chilly morning by our Australian standards, and we were rugged up in winter coats, gloves and scarves. From a distance, the church looked unremarkable compared to some of the grander cathedrals we have visited. As we drew closer, it had a pretty appearance with rendered pale yellow walls, an elegant spire, and a weathered, wooden front door. I wondered what we would discover inside. The interior that greeted us was nothing short of exquisite. The church is crafted in the Bavarian rococo style with ornate cornices and stucco, ceiling frescoes and carvings.

Fresco and ornate cornices above the altar

It is easy to see why this pilgrimage church is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its cultural and artistic significance. Over one million people visit each year. Regardless of whether you are religious or an atheist, you cannot help but marvel at the craftsmanship evident in this church. Everywhere you look, the workmanship is extraordinary. Much of the elaborate craftmanship in the church is attributed to the Zimmerman brothers with Dominikus Zimmerman commissioned to design the church in 1743. He was also a stucco sculptor and primarily responsible for the building of the church. His brother, Baptist, painted the elaborate stucco sculptures and the ceiling fresco.1

I am always astounded how churches such as this have endured throughout human history; through political unrest, wars, inclement weather and the ravages of time. According to the church website1, the church was at risk of demolition between 1803–04, but through the petitions and personal contributions of local farmers, the church was saved. What a loss it would have been had it been demolished.

The Gates of Heaven above the organ

The church has since enjoyed a major restoration between 1985 and 1991, with the intent to restore it as closely as possible to its 18th Century glory. The church re-opened on 5 May, 1991, with the restoration costing 10.6 million Deutsche Marks.1 Whilst this church does not have the grandeur of some of the great cathedrals of Rome or Paris, its beauty and ornateness is something special and well worth the visit.

We took numerous photos of the interior before moving to the aisle to the left of the main chapel. Pilgrims from all over the world have left photos and prayer cards on the walls invoking prayers for healing for themselves, or loved ones who were ill, missing or experiencing difficulties. Some offered thanks for their prayers being answered.

There was one prayer card I have been unable to forget. Even now, a year later, it has stayed with me. The card contained a photograph of a boy in his early teens missing since the 1970s and thought to be in Siberia. I wondered what a boy his age would have been doing in Siberia, so far from his homeland. Had he been kidnapped, or run away from home? What circumstances had conspired to see him separated from the rest of his family?

Around forty years have passed since the boy’s disappearance and the prayer card remains on the wall. I wondered if his parents were still alive, and if they ever found him. Or had they lived out their remaining years yearning for their lost son, constantly wondering where he might be, and what had become of him? All the family memories and milestones they had lost that can never be reclaimed.

A part of me is hopeful. Maybe they did find their son, and there was a joyful reunion. But given others had posted their thanks for their prayers being answered, the fact that this card remained dimmed my hopes. It was a sobering thought. A reminder to be thankful for all the good things in my life: family, friends, and the freedoms we enjoy in a democratic country that is not beleaguered by civil war, political unrest and famine.

Abbot Marianus II Mayer, the bishop who continued with the building of the church after the death of his predecessor, expressed the sentiments: “Hoc loco habitat fortuna, hic quiescit cor” which translates to:

 ‘Happiness abides in this place, here the heart finds peace.’1

When you visit the church, take a moment to sit, reflect and absorb the wonders of this beautiful place.

*

The Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour is located between Steingaden and Wildsteig in the Pfaffenwinkel (land of monasteries) region of Bavaria, Germany.

Wieskirche – Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour
Wies 12
86989 Steingaden
Homepage: http://www.wieskirche.de includes opening hours

1  Historical and chronological information for this article were sourced from the church website at: http://www.wieskirche.de and the tourism website: https://www.bavaria.by/pilgrimage-church-of-the-scourged-saviour-wieskirche-bavaria

This Writing Life and Writing Friendships

I was recently invited to talk about literary friendships, alongside my writing friend Hannah van Didden, for our friend Rashida Murphy’s writing blog Rashidawritenow. But I’ll come back to that in a minute or two, and you’ll find the link at the end of this post.

Writing friendships are, I think, an essential part of the writing life, and I can attest that it took me some time to find mine. Too much time you could probably argue. When I think back to graduating from my Graduate Diploma course in Professional Writing, I took work opportunities that engaged with the professional writing side of my degree. A local government authority offered me a contract to research and write information panels for a community history museum. I love history and research so it was a win-win for me. Then I moved on to a not-for-profit organisation in the disability sector, writing content for their website, media releases, article content, and researching and applying for grants. I was using all the professional writing skills I’d learnt during my degree, but there came a time when I wanted to explore the creative side.

A friend gave me the opportunity to create a musical theatre script for an annual, children’s performing arts concert with a cast of nearly 200 performers. Lisa placed so much faith and trust in me that I would deliver, even though it was something I’d never done before. The script had to have a space theme, and be a cohesive story that would weave through the acting, dance and singing performances. But there was more. It had to be suitable for children from toddlers through to 16 to 17 year old’s. No inappropriate words or themes, no selection of songs with swearing or risqué lyrics.  Fortunately, the final responsibility for song choices fell to the dance and singing teachers, but I made suggestions on songs that would fit with the flow of the script.

At times, I doubted the script would ever be finished, let alone performed. But with so much riding on it as a fundraising event, failure or giving up was not an option. I had a deadline to write to, and nothing drives you more than the days on a calendar disappearing. The resultant script is called Plenoch’s Puzzle, with the sub-title: Solve the puzzle to save the universe. The story is set in a futuristic world where the qualities that make us human have long been forgotten: courage, hope, compassion, loyalty, faith and love. Qualities dormant in the six teenage Keepers of the Memories (KOTM), who are called upon to be the saviours of the universe after they find a mysterious pentagem.

The script has an eclectic cast of characters: Aleana, a dying sun; Tergon, a dark presence who is extinguishing all light and hope; and an all-knowing Time Seer, who guides the KOTM but can’t influence the outcome. There are Miming Mumblers, Jimmity Jammers, Wandering Wuffles, Zototrons, and a cast of other weird and wondrous characters either helping, or thwarting, the Keepers of the Memories in their quest to unlock the secret of the gem and defeat Tergon. I think I just about drove Lisa, the Performing Arts School Director, and Olivia, the Concert Director, to nervous breakdowns getting sets and costumes done in time for the performance. And apparently, one costume supplier commented that it sounded like I was the next JK Rowling – in my dreams! It was a real buzz to see my script performed, and rather emotional to witness the children bringing it to life in costumes that encapsulated the characters I’d created.

I must have done an okay job because Lisa and Olivia remain friends today, and I was invited back to write another script two years’ later for the annual concert. This time, creating a contemporary musical theatre script Allie’s Amazing Adventures, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I still remember one of the mother’s stopping me on the way into the concert to congratulate me on the quality of the script. It was a small gesture on her part, but it meant so much to me. I felt encouraged that maybe I had something to say after all.

Then everything came to a halt. A few health issues arose and the writing life was shunted to the side for a while. I continued reading books assigned by my book club, and faithfully attended the Perth Writers’ Festival every year, taking copious notes on every word that came out of the writers’ mouths – something I continue to do! But, I was doing a fraction of the three things all established and successful writers recommend if you want to be a writer. You must read, read, read widely and read some more. Join a writers’ centre, and go to writers’ festivals and workshops to learn from experienced writers. And most importantly, write, write and write some more.

I finally took the step to join my local writers’ centre in the hope of meeting some like-minded writers. I embraced volunteering for two years as the centre’s Publicist and Grant Writer, and as the Convenor of a monthly Women’s Writing Group. I’m an organiser and a people person, and I thrived on that side of the writing life. I went to numerous writing workshops to learn and develop as a writer. And in all that busyness, I was back in my comfort zone doing professional writing tasks, meeting lots of other writers, but not much creative writing was happening. Something had to change.

The turning point came when I summoned the courage to apply for a year-long writing course at our writers’ centre. And this is where I bring you back to the opening lines of this blog post. That course was the start of some wonderful writing friendships that continue to sustain and nourish my creative writing life today. I would be lost without them. They are my compass and cheer squad as I go down the rabbit hole in writing the first draft of my novel, and send my shorter pieces out into the world.

You’ll find my thoughts on the importance of writing friendships, alongside Hannah’s, at Rashida Murphy’s writing blog Rashidawritenow. My thanks to Rashida for the invitation. https://rashidawritenow.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/literary-friendships-2/

I’d love to hear your thoughts on writing friendships and what they mean to you.

Sue

 

Write at this Moment

Welcome to Write at this Moment, my blog on the writing life, books and travel. I’ll also post author interviews from time to time, and links to writing tips and articles. You’ll find new posts on the drop down menu, or at the bottom of this page. Thanks for stopping by and if you’d like to contact me, please use the contact form here.

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