Alright so there are definitely many pictures of the Aachener Dom on past posts that I had from last time, but two years ago, when I was in Aachen, I never actually went to mass here. It usually ended up that I was traveling back from somewhere on my Sundays. In the same post that there’s probably lots of pictures of the Dom from my last Aachen trip, I bet Jess talks about all the history and whatnot of the cathedral (HERE is MY post on the historical information of the Aachen Cathedral).
Briefly, its construction started around the year 800 (yes there are only three digits there) by order of Charlemagne (THAT Charlemagne). He was eventually buried at the site of the Dom somewhere, and then about 30 German kings were crowned at the Dom until the year 1531. The whole Dom is not actually all 1200 years old. There were a lot of “modern” additions through history which make it kind of an interesting mix of a lot of different architectural styles. At this point, Jess, feel free to add-on more about the Dom or a link to somewhere that you talk more about it. I have to be honest and reference any facts that I got to Wikipedia, so here’s a link to the page, which I think is probably accurate enough for most of the information, if not all.
(Hey, its Jess here, I do have a few tiny things to add to my sister’s excellent recap of the Aachen Cathedral:
- Art historically speaking it is a building that Charlemagne specifically looked back onto Roman architecture (look at those arches) because as the first Holy Roman Emperor, he wanted to emulate and continue the legacy of the Roman Empire
- Architecturally speaking, it is closely modeled on San Vitale from Ravenna (an image from the AP Art History 250
- It’s a UNESCO Site
So I finally decided to go to mass in the world-famous cathedral. I did go to see the inside last time in Germany, but I guess I forgot how small it was compared to the churches in the US. My first impression was just like “Wow you can fit maybe 100 people in here” and my second impression was probably about how old everyone was. I had read somewhere that religion is not really an important part of people’s lives in Germany despite a rich religious history, a.k.a. The Lutheran Reformation. I totally believed it when I saw the other people who were at mass, and clearly they were a little surprised to see me there, a 22-year-old sitting alone at mass on a Sunday. They stop letting visitors into the cathedral at one point so that they can hold mass, and the man at the door seemed a little confused when I had to reassure him that I understood that he was saying it was only open for mass goers at the time.
Overall it was like a normal mass, I mean I think that’s kind of the point of a religion that is practiced all around the world. In some minor ways it was a little different. First off, I guess because it’s an older church, there aren’t any pews, just chairs set up in rows. The chairs also don’t have any kneelers, which is not a big deal but instead of just standing or sitting, some people would take the chair they were sitting on, turn it around and kneel on the part they would normally sit on. I really wish I took a picture of it, because it would help to explain, but I didn’t really want to be obvious about it. It’s not that odd, unless there is someone sitting behind you, which then while you kneel on your chair in prayer, they get a face full of your backside. Needless to say, I opted just to sit instead of kneel.
Also, there isn’t like a procession of the priest and the altar servers down the aisle. All of a sudden, this bell just rings and they just walk out of some side door and appear at the altar. It sort of caught me off guard, especially since they were a couple of minutes late….very un-German.
Lastly, during communion it’s just a free-for-all to go up to the priest. There were no ushers, and no order to it; people literally just went whenever they wanted to whichever line they wanted. I felt like the people in my row were getting a little annoyed with me because I was waiting for the people in front of my to go first and instead they just went out the other side of the row to go to a line on the opposite side of the church. I eventually gave in because I did not want to be that last person getting back to their seat after communion. Truthfully I didn’t understand most of the mass, but I could tell when certain things were happening just based on the rhythm.
Another point on rhythm, Germans don’t have any. I don’t want to blame the language, because German songs can sound nice, but when it’s sung as a hymn in church, it just sounds as if no one knows the words or when they’re supposed to say them. I stick to just silently reading the words, but I really don’t think I could make it sounds any worse.
Almighty, I have more things to write about, but once again, I’m feeling like it’s kind of a lot of information in one post. I also want to say, that in the time I spent writing this I already decided that I am just going to start-up my own blog. How’s that for decision-making?