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Wonders Of The World:
St. Mark's Church
Tower Of London
Cathedral Of Antwerp
The Taj Mahal
Cathedral Of Notre Dame
Cathedral Of York
Mosque Of Omar
Cathedral Of Burgos
The Pyramids
Saint Peter's Cathedral
Cathedral Of Strasburg
The Shway Dagohn
Cathedral Of Siena
Town Hall Of Louvain
Cathedral Of Seville
Windsor Castle
Cathedral of Cologne
Palce Of Versailles
Cathedral Of Lincoln

The Cathedral Of Cologne

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

We are now in the middle of the Tenth Century and in the city of Cologne; for several hours a man has been sitting upon the banks of a river, flowing majestically at the base of those ramparts which sixty years ago were erected by Philip von Heinsberg, and for several hours his thoughtful brow has not been lifted. This man was the first master-workman of his time; three centuries later he was called the prince of architects. The Archbishop of Cologne had said to him: " Master, we must build a cathedral here which will surpass all the buildings of the world in grandeur and magnificence." The artist replied: " I will do it; " and now he was pondering over ways of accomplishing his promise about which he was frightened. At this moment he was trying to think out a marvellous plan which would give lustre to his country and immortalize his name; but nothing came into his mind worthy of the prodigy he was trying to conceive and could not create.

An unknown old man now approached and sat beside him, regarding him with a mocking air, as if he rejoiced in his perplexity and despair; every now and then he gave a little, dry cough, and when he had attracted the attention of the artist, he rapidly traced on the sand with a ring some lines which he immediately effaced. These lines formed exactly that plan which always escaped the artist and whose fugitive image he could not seize.

" You would like to have this plan? " asked the old man. "I would give all I possess for it."

"I exact nothing. The building that you construct will be the envy and the eternal despair of all your successors, the admiration of centuries to come, and your brilliant and celebrated name will be known to the most remote genera tions. Your life will be long; you will pass it in glory, wealth, and pleasure. For all that I only ask for your soul when your life draws to its close."

" Vade retro Satanas! " cried the agitated artist. "Better the nothingness of oblivion than eternal damnation."

" Patience," said Satan, " reflect: we shall see," and he vanished. The master-workman returned to his humble dwelling, sadder and more dreamful than when he left it; he could not close his eyes all night. Glory, wealth, and pleasure for many long years, and all that for one word! In vain he tried to shake himself free from the fatal temptation; at every moment, at every step he again saw the tempter showing him his transitory plan; he succumbed.

"Tomorrow, at midnight," said Satan, "go to that spot and I will bring you the plan and the pact that you must sign."

The artist returned to the city, divided between remorse and dreams of pride and ambition. Remorse conquered, and before the appointed hour he had told everything to his confessor. " It will be a master-stroke," said the latter, " to deceive Satan himself and snatch the famous plan from him without paying the price of your soul," and he sketched out the line of conduct that he should follow.

At the appointed hour the two parties stood face to face. " Here," said Satan, " are the plan and pact; take it and sign it." Quick as lightning the master-workman snatched the plan with one hand and with the other he brandished a piece of the True Cross, which the wily confessor had given to him. "I am vanquished," cried Satan, "but you will reap little benefit through your treachery. Your name will be unknown and your work will never be completed."

Such is the legend of the Cathedral of Cologne. I have told it here so that the admiration of the Middle Ages for this plan, which could not be considered the work of any human genius, may be measured, and for six centuries the sinister prediction of Satan has held good.

At the north-east end of the elevation occupied by the ancient Colonia Agrippina, in the spot where the choir of the Cathedral raises its magnificent pinnacles, there existed in very remote ages a Roman Castellum. At a later period this was replaced by a palace of the French kings, which Charlemagne gave to his chancellor and confessor Hildebold...

The Cathedral of Cologne was one of the most ancient seats of Christianity in Germany; it contained in its jurisdiction the capital of Charlemagne's Empire, the city where the Emperors were crowned. In the Twelfth Century, Frederick Barbarossa enriched it with one of those sacred treasures which in a time of faith attracted entire populations and gave birth to the gigantic enterprises which seem so incredible in our positive and sceptical age. All eyes were turned to the Holy Land, and the pilgrims of Germany, as well as of other countries, before undertaking this perilous voyage came by the thousands to the tomb of the Magi, to pray to God that the same star which guided the Three Wise Men to Christ's cradle might lead them to his tomb. The celebrity and wealth of the Cologne Cathedral was greatly due to the custom of the Emperors visiting it after their coronation. Thus, from the moment it was in possession of the sacred relics, everything combined to augment its splendour; princes, emperors, and people of all classes were eager to add to its treasures. Therefore, it was only a natural consequence to erect on the site of the old Cathedral of St. Peter a building more vast and magnificent, and which would accord better with its important destiny. The Archbishop Angebert, Count of Altena and Berg, upon whom Frederick II. conferred the dignity of vicar of the empire, conceived the first idea; but at about the age of forty he was assassinated by his cousin, the Count of Ysembourg, in 1225, and the enterprise was abandoned. Finally, a great fire devoured the Cathedral in 1248 and its immediate reconstruction was indispensable...

Everyone knows that almost all churches of the pointed arch which occupied several centuries in building show the special mark of the periods in which their various additions were constructed; this is not the case with the Cathedral of Cologne, which is peculiar in the fact that its foundations and its additions were all constructed on one and the same plan, which preserves the original design, and therefore it presents a rare and admirable unity.

On the side of the Rhine, or rather on the Margreten, between the Trankgass and the Domhof, the choir of the basilica offers the most imposing effect. It is only from this side that the edifice seems to have an end. The end of the roof, edged in all its length by an open-worked ridge, is surmounted by an enormous cross, nine metres high, finished with a fleur-de-lis at each extremity. This cross, weighing 694 kil., was only placed there on August 3, 1825, but it was long in existence, having been, it is said, presented to the church by Marie de' Medici. In the centre of the transept there rose a bell-tower, 65 metres high, which was demolished in 1812. The plan carries a superb fleche of stone, open-worked like the spires of the facade, and about 100 metres high.

Fifteen flying-buttresses on each side proceed from the central window and sustain the choir, leaning against the buttresses and surmounted by elegant pyramids. Each of these pyramids carries twelve niches destined to hold angels two metres high, many of which have been restored lately by Wilhelm Imhoff. The upper part of the flying-buttresses, at the point where they meet the balustrade of the roof, is crowned by another and more simple pyramid. Finally, between these flying-buttresses in the upper part of the wall of the choir, magnificent mullioned windows are disclosed. The entire edifice is covered with gargoyles, each more bizarre than the other...

Entering the cathedral by the door at the foot of the northern tower, you find yourself in the double-lower northern nave. The first bays do not contain altars, but their windows reveal magnificent panes, of the beginning of the Sixteenth Century. The Archbishop Herman von Hesse, the Chapter, the City, and many noble families united to have them painted by the most distinguished artists of the period, which was the apogee of Art in Germany; and therefore here are many of the most admirable chefs d' oeuvre of glass-painting...

The Chapel of the Kings is almost entirely occupied by the building erected in 1688 and ornamented by Ionic pilasters of marble, and which, shut in by grilles and many locks, contains the marvellous reliquary in which are preserved the relics of the Three Magi. According to Buttler, these relics were found by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land; she carried them carefully to Constantinople. Soon afterwards the Archbishop Eustorge, to whom the Emperor had presented them, brought them to Milan, where they were deposited in the church subsequently consecrated to the same Eustorge, who was canonized. When Frederick Barbarossa invaded the town in I 163, Reinald von Dassile, Archbishop of Cologne, received them as a reward for the services which he had rendered to the Emperor during the siege. At the same time Reinald obtained several relics of the Maccabees, of the Saints Apollinaris, Felix, Nabor, Gregory di Spoletto, etc. He, himself, accompanied this treasure, which crossed Switzerland in triumph, descended the Rhine to Remagen, where he gave it to Philip of Heinsberg, then provost of the Chapter.

On July 23, 1164, the relics were deposited in the ancient cathedral, from which they were transferred to the new one; they were guarded there simply by an iron grille until the Archbishop Maximilian Heinrich constructed the building which encloses them today, upon whose pediment you see sculptured in marble, by Michael Van der Voorst of Antwerp, the Adoration of the Magi, Saint Felix, Saint Nabor, and two female figures guarding the arms of the Metropolitan Chapter, in the midst of which figure those of the Archbishop Maximilian Heinrich. On the frieze you read the inscription: "Tribus ab oriente regibus devicto in agnitione veri numinis capitulum metropol. erexit." Above the grilled window, which is opened during grand ceremonies to permit the people to see the reliquary, is written:

Corpora sanctorum recubant hic terna magorum;

Az his sublatum nihil est alibive locatum."

Finally, above the reliquary placed to the right and left between the columns one reads: " Et apertis thesauris suis obtulerunt munera."

In 1794 the relics were carried to the treasury of Arnsberg, then to Prague, where the three crowns of diamonds were sold, and finally to Frankfort-on-the-Main. When they were brought back in 1804, the reliquary was repaired and put in its old place. This reliquary, a chef d'oeuvre of Twelfth Century orfevrerie, is of gilded copper with the exception of the front, which is of pure gold; its form is that of a tomb; its length 1m. 85, its breadth 1 m. at the base, its height 1 m. 50; on the side turned to the west you see represented the Adoration of the Magi and the baptism of Jesus Christ. Above the sculpture is a kind of lid which may be raised, permitting you to see the skulls of the Three Kings ornamented with golden crowns garnished with Bohemian stones,-a kind of garnet; in the pediment is the image of the Divine judge sitting between two angels who hold the attributes of the Passion; the two busts above represent Gabriel and Raphael; and, finally, an enormous topaz occupies the summit of the pediment. The right side of the reliquary is ornamented with images of the prophets, Moses, Jonah, David, Daniel, Amos, and Obadiah. The apostles Paul, Philip, Simon, Thomas, and Judas Thaddeus are placed in six niches above. In the left side you see the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Nahum, Solomon, Joel, and Aaron, and the apostles Bartholomew, Matthew, John the Lesser, Andrew, Peter, and John the Great. The back of the monument presents the flagellation of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Saint John, the Saviour on the Cross, Saint Felix, Saint Nabor, the Archbishop Reinald and eight busts of angels. The monument is surmounted by an open-work ridge of copper lace. This magnificent reliquary is covered with more than 1,500 precious stones and antique cameos representing subjects which are not exactly Christian such as the apotheosis of an Emperor, two heads of Medusa, a head of Hercules, one of Alexander, etc. Behind the reliquary is a bas-relief in marble r m. 33 in height and 1 m. o in length, representing the solemn removal of the relics. The bas-reliefs of richly-gilt bronze, placed below the windows which occupy the back of the chapel, represent the Adoration of the Magi: these were the gift of Jacques de Croy, Duke of Cambrai in 1516. This window is ornamented with beautiful panes of the Thirteenth Century, representing various subjects of sacred history.

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