Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hamburg 24.12.93: Christmas Eve Coffee Panic and Maria Schutzmantel

11:30 A.M. We slept till 9:30; another one of those nights for me. I cannot seem to rest, to recover, to settle in any way.

We’ve just walked to Nienstedt for coffee, only to discover our coffee shop is not open—for coffee; they’re doing a booming business selling baked goods. Guess on Christmas eve they don’t want the extra bother of preparing breakfast. I have the impression stores will close anyway at noon, for the day.

I keep thinking of a statue we saw in the parish church at Daun, Nikolauskirche. It’s one of which I’ve seen pictures (if not of this statue, at least of other examples of it). Schutzmantel Maria: Mary with her mantel spread, and lots of little people sheltering beneath it, their upturned faces pious and a bit surprised. At what, I don’t know—the happy discovery that they’re among the blessed?

I like it very much, always have, so it was a pleasure to see it. I like the idea of a maternal providence that surprises us with its unexpected solicitude, and the idea that little people are especially subject to such solicitude. I also like the sense of eschatological overthrow of injustice, for the people under the mantel are not priests, nuns, potentates, but ordinary peasants.

A sign at the back of the church, telling its history, says the statue is a copy of another dated early 15th century (1421?), which is now in a museum in Berlin. Would be nice to see the original.

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