Dresden's landmark Frauenkirche re-consecrated
31 October 2005, DRESDEN, GERMANY - Over 60 years after it was destroyed by Allied bombing, Dresden's Frauenkirche was re-consecrated Sunday in a service attended by dignitaries from around the world.
31 October 2005
DRESDEN, GERMANY - Over 60 years after it was destroyed by Allied bombing, Dresden's Frauenkirche was re-consecrated Sunday in a service attended by dignitaries from around the world.
Once a symbol of the evil and ravages of war, the baroque sandstone Church of Our Lady, which towers above the centre of the eastern German city, has been rebuilt over the last 11 years to become a symbol of reconciliation.
Around 1,700 people, including Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his successor Angela Merkel along with representatives and ambassadors of the World War Two Allies, attended the ceremony in the church, which dates back to the 18th century.
Also attending was German President Horst Koehler, who told those gathered for the Frauenkirche service that the rebuilding of the church "ranked among the best that free citizens can achieve.
"This marvellous building is more than just a building," he said. "It stands for something that can unite us."
About 600,000 donors from around the world, including many from Britain and the United States, contributed a total of 100 million euros (120 million dollars) for the reconstruction of the church, which once again dominates Dresden's skyline.
The Duke of Kent led a British delegation to the service. He is also patron of the Dresden Trust, which raised 1.5 million euros for the rebuilding of the church, which cost a total of 179 million euros to restore to its former glory.
In a message to Koehler, Queen Elizabeth II said Sunday that the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche was a "powerful symbol of reconciliation" between Germany and Britain.
Built in 1726-1723, the original Protestant church was gutted in the firestorm that engulfed Dresden during the Allies' aerial bombardment on the night of February 13, 1945 in the months leading up to the end of World War Two.
Two days later, its giant stone cupola collapsed, reducing the building to an enormous heap of rubble.
The priest in charge of the Frauenkirche, Stephan Fritz, welcomed the guests to the re-consecration service saying "It is a day of joy and thanks."
Speaking in several languages he said: "Peace be with you."
Some 60,000 people crowded into the square surrounding the church under cloudless blue skies and brilliant autumn sunshine to watch the service on giant screens.
As a mark of the significance the church's rebuilding, its re- opening was broadcast live on German public television.
A programme of church services and concerts on the new organ will continue through to Tuesday, including an ecumenical service at the church to be presided over by the Anglican Bishop of Coventry, Colin Bennett.
Coventry Cathedral in England was rebuilt in 1962 in a similar act of reconciliation.
Unlike the new Coventry Cathedral, a modern church built next to the ruin of the old, the Frauenkirche is a replica of the old, with blackened old stones from the original mingled in together with the gleaming white sandstone of the rebuilt church.
The Frauenkirche re-consecration service began in the open air outside the church, with a procession of young people carrying a bible, altar cross, chalices and baptismal font into the huge edifice before Lutheran bishop Jochen Bohl declared the former ruin hallowed ground.
The service included separate dedications of the pulpit, the baptismal, the altar and the organ.
Subject: German news