Thursday, September 9, 2010

St. Odile

Today I took part in an excursion with colleagues of Feierabend. The English translation of Feierabend is "quitting time" but this does not transmit the sentimental German meaning: Imagine a farmer or a blacksmith sitting on a bench under the linden tree in his village. After a hard day's work, he has folded his brawny hands in his lap watching the sunset. This is German Feierabend!

In our case, Feierabend stands for a bunch of people of the elder generation enjoying the computer but garnishing their hobby with other group activities, mostly excursions. 

Statue of St. Odile with attributes of an abbess of Hohenburg
A one and a half hour walk took us to a chapel above Freiburg built in 679 at the place where St. Odile once found refuge in a rock that opened just in time before her father’s men arrived to catch her. In fact, Duke Etichon from the Alsace had ordered his daughter to get married what she refused. Eventually, her only solution was a getaway. Her hiding in the rock blessed the region with a source.

Grotto and entrance to the source below St. Odile's chapel
To get to the source you must descend into the grotto below the chapel. An iron gate blocks the access to the water. On the rock above the praying St. Odile is barely recognizable. The water of the source is said to have curative virtues in case of eye trouble. It flows out of a green garden hose below the gate. To reach the water you must bend down quite a lot. Eventually, I managed and rinsed my eyes but washed my hands rather at the dedicated facilities before our group had lunch at a tavern adjoining the chapel. The place now called St. Ottilien is a popular site of excursions for Freiburgers.

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