Category Archives: Church

A Fast Train Through the Netherlands

This year’s adventure flew by faster then a bullet train. I didn’t get even close to pointing out all the remarkable things we’ve seen in this outstanding country. Let’s finish with an assortment of the wacky, weird and wonderful.

The Bloemendaal Train Station

The Bloemendaal Train Station

Rommelmarkts

I’d characterize almost every flea market and bazaar we’ve been to here as a Jumble Sale. I’ve never seen such an odd collection of used clothes, broken toys, rusty tools and assorted junky stuff.

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

The Rommelmarkt at Appelscha takes place in what appears to be an abandoned amusement park for kiddies. The only thing left are the creepy forlorn creatures that have been abandoned and left to  fester like captives in an old Twilight Zone episode.

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IJHallen, in North Amsterdam, is probably the longest running Rommelmarkt in Holland.

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The Bazaar in Beverwijk is a whole other animal. It was billed as a long established mixed use affair. There are huge warehouse type buildings filled with most everything you can imagine. No collectibles or antiques but tons of cheap underwear, toys, tools, jewelry and Middle Eastern food. Kind of a free trip to Turkey.

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Waanders In De Broeren

The Broerenkerk, Church of Brothers,  was part of the Dominican monastery from 1465 until the monks were expelled in 1589 and the Protestants took over.

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Now it houses Waanders in de Broeren, one of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever seen. A joy to wander around or just have a snack.

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A Few Loose Ends

Art Supplies in Haarlem

Art Supplies in Haarlem

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Leeuwarden

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The St Bernards of Leeuwarden

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Den Haag

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Den Haag Central Station

The Passages in Den Haag

The Passages in Den Haag

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

Druggist in Zwolle

Druggist in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice - Bitterballen and Mustard (They're pretty good)

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice – Bitterballen and Mustard (They’re pretty good)

 

The Case of the Missing Martyr

The Strange Tale of St Edmund – Mayhem, Murder and Martyrdom In East Anglia

In 869 the Viking’s Great Heathen Army descended on East Anglia and demolished everything in their path.  Apparently King Edmund refused to renounce Christ.  On the orders of Ivar the Boneless and his evil brother Abba, the King was whipped, shot with arrows, stabbed with spears and finally beheaded.

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I say apparently because almost nothing is known about Edmund’s real life, the Viking Army having destroyed any contemporary evidence of his reign.  Legend has it that after his decapitation, the head was taken into the forest by a wolf that kept strangers at bay until the Monks could retrieve the head and bury it with his body.

It is said that wolves have not been seen in East Anglia since that day.

The Wolf Stands Guard Over St. Edmund's Severed Head

The Wolf Stands Guard Over St. Edmund’s Severed Head

Upon exhumation it was discovered that all the arrow wounds on his corpse had healed and his head was reattached and his skin was still soft and fresh as a daisy. A Saint for sure.

In later years writers realized the inherent PR value of having no factual record of Edmund’s reign and quickly began producing accounts of a life filled with miracles. But creating a Saint out of whole cloth is no easy task and just like a great rock band it requires outrageous tales and a lot of touring. The Benedictine Monks lugged the bejeweled box containing his remains all over Southern England, regaling tales of heroic deeds and miracles to anyone with a few coins. It is said that between 900 and 1000 AD, Edmund’s remains did far more traveling then he ever did during his lifetime. They understood very well that saints mean pilgrims and pilgrims mean money.

The Abbey Tower

The Abbey Tower

During the 11th century the shrine at Bury St Edmunds became one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage locations in England. For centuries the shrine was visited by various kings, many of whom gave generously to the abbey. The town arose as the wealth and fame of the abbey grew.

But as we all know, fate can be cruel and in 1539, during the English Reformation and the subsequent Dissolution of the Monasteries, all the abbey’s property was seized by the Crown. On November 4,1539 the abbot and his monks were expelled and the abbey was dissolved, but before Cromwell’s troop could arrive the Monks dug up Edmund’s casket and reburied it in or near the abby grounds. For centuries historians have searched for the location of the venerated saint’s holy remains, but all their efforts have been in vain and the secret is still secure.

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On the Green

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Tower Door

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Ceiling

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Ceiling

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Abbey Fountain

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Putt Putt Golf on the Abbey Green

Courtyard

St Edmund in the Courtyard

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A private home on the Abbey grounds

The Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

This church is located at Borgund in Lærdal beside the Sognefjord and is the world’s best preserved stave church.

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Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

Borgund Stave-Church

These medieval wooden Christian church buildings were once common in north-western EuropeIt is believed, that at one point, there were between 750 and 1000 stave churches in Norway. Today there are only 28 remaining. In the Middle Ages, when people in Europe were building great cathedrals in stone, Norway developed similar construction techniques with timber. Norway had a very long tradition of wood construction for buildings, art and the production of ships. The roof structure is essentially an inverted ship hull.

Come On In

The North Door

The North Door

The decoration of stave churches is a fascinating blend of Christianity and Viking era symbols with several runic inscriptions on the church walls and the distinctive “Dragon’s Heads”, similar to those found on Viking ships, jutting out from the gable peaks. The main doorway has vine-scrolls on the pilasters and serpents and dragons on the side panels and lintel.

The Main Doorway

The Main Doorway

Runic Inscriptions

Runic Inscriptions & Animal Masks On the South Door

Medieval Stone Altar. The Altarpiece Was Painted In 1654.

Medieval Stone Altar. The Altarpiece Was Painted In 1654.

The timbers used to construct this church were felled in the year 1180. There are two factors that have accounted for the church’s longevity, it is constructed entirely on a stone foundation so that none of the wood touches the ground and also the timbers were “seasoned on the root” which draws the tar to the surface thereby preserving the wood beneath.

Root Seasoned Wood

Root Seasoned Wood

Root Seasoned Wood

Root Seasoned Wood

Root Seasoned Wood

Root Seasoned Wood

More Useless But Interesting Facts

St. Andrew’s Cross:

St. Andrew's Cross

St. Andrew’s Cross

The diagonal cross-braces are named after St. Andrew who was crucified on a diagonal cross, supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. Who knows? But one thing is clear, the whole idea captured people’s imagination. The symbol has been used on the flags of Scotland, England, Grenada, Jersey, Logrono, Vitoria, Amsterdam, Breda, Potchefstroom, Kateijk, Valdivia, Tenerife, Galicia, Jamaica, Burgundy, the Imperial Russian Navy, the state flags of Florida and Alabama, as well as, the former Indian princely states of Khairpur, Rajkot, and Jaora, just to name a few. And of course, there is the much debated Confederate flag. Although the original designer, Willian Porcher Miles, insisted he changed it from an upright cross to a saltire so that it would be more a heraldic device then a religious symbol.