St.-St. Paul's Cathedral in Munster © Friso Gentsch
Since the virus pandemic, she has received special attention: Saint Corona is even invoked against the spread of epidemics. Why there is now a figure in St. Paul's Cathedral, explains Munster Cathedral Provost Kurt Schulte.
Interviewer: Where did you find this statue?
Kurt Schulte (cathedral provost in Munster): There is something special about it. I also work at the Offizialat, the ecclesiastical court. An employee from the Offizialat has been assigned to clear up an apartment. A large figure of the saint came to light in the process. He asked me to keep it in a dignified way because there was no room for it in the new apartment.
It was thought that this was Saint Elizabeth because she was holding something in her hand that looked like bread. Caritas and social commitment were also very important in the family.
I showed the figure to our art experts and took a look at it. It actually came out that it was Saint Corona. It was completely unknown to me until now. She then found a place with me in the apartment.
When suddenly there was talk of the Corona virus, I remembered it again and read about the life of St. Corona. I then brought the figure into the cathedral and there it now stands in a special place.
We have laid out a prayer and a life presentation there. Many people look at this figure, linger before it, and pray with their personal concerns and needs.
Interviewer: The cathedral is still open for prayer, so people are still allowed to come. If the figure is visited a lot, you often see people standing there?
Schulte: Yes. Of course, many people are surprised at first to see this figure there. Before there was no figure there. Our overall experience is that the cathedral is not so crowded. The city center of Munster is also empty.
But all the people who visit the cathedral linger there and take a seat, read through the leaflet and draw strength from prayer.
Interviewer: You personally wouldn't have thought that this particular figure would one day have a prominent place in the cathedral, would you??
Schulte: Certainly not. I have always wondered where this figure could find a good place. When I pray the rosary in the evening at 7:30 p.m. while the bells are ringing in the closed cathedral, together with the sexton on duty, we say at the end of the prayer "Holy Corona, pray for us"."
This invocation takes a lot of getting used to for me, because the virus is so present in my mind.
Interviewer: Last Friday, the pope celebrated a large church service. Well, actually it was all alone in St. Peter's Square. But he gave the blessing "Urbi et Orbi" over the city and the world at this time. Do you also have the feeling in Munster that people need something to hold on to right now?
Schulte: I feel these days, when I make many phone calls, that people feel abandoned and powerless. They are looking for support and perspectives and try to draw strength in these anxiety-provoking times.
Many find encouragement in the Pope's blessing and his wonderful address. People are looking for God in this time. People realize that it is a challenging time, but they draw strength and confidence from the knowledge that God is with them.
Interviewer: How much does it hurt you then that you can only open the cathedral outside of church services?
Schulte: That hurts me a lot. I usually celebrate the service in the cathedral every day with a very familiar congregation. It takes more than a little getting used to, to celebrate the service in the cathedral alone now. Especially with Easter in mind and the experience of Eucharistic communion.
Interviewer: Is it difficult to explain that the church, which is there for the people in times of crisis, has to leave everyone out of the service and banish them to the television??
Schulte: Yes. So far I have always been able to live in peace and in good times. I have not experienced it so far that the churches had to be closed and people could not go to the service.
Especially times of need and distress are times of common worship and prayer. One holds intercession in the community and seeks consolation. Now we are deprived of this possibility of gathering strength and we realize that we are missing something essential.
We must therefore look for new ways and that is where church service broadcasts such as through this site play a role.DE and many other things play an important role. They proclaim the good news and connect people with God.
Interviewer: There is a saying: "What is not there, one does not miss in the end." If the crisis should last longer, you are afraid that people could lose access to the service and the church?
Schulte: I believe that both are possible. Some will be able to make Sunday without attending Holy Mass and will not attend services after the crisis is over.
I hope that people, on the other hand, will reflect at this time and think about the essentials. There I am again with the Holy Corona. She is also the patron saint of treasure hunters. Jesus also speaks of the treasure in the field or the pearl.
We should rediscover for ourselves faith and the reception of the Eucharist as a source of strength. Perhaps, by longing for it and reflecting on what is essential, we will rediscover worship for ourselves.
Interviewer: Now the Holy and Easter days are coming up, these intense liturgies. Do you have any idea what it will be like to celebrate the Eucharist with only a few people in the cathedral??
Schulte: As soon as we realized that the services would have to be celebrated without a congregation, we began to plan with the cathedral music and the cathedral monsignor to celebrate these services in a simple way. It's a way to bring people closer to the Paschal Mystery and the liturgy.
While I am sad that many things are not possible, I am grateful that the services can be brought to people's homes through the media. I know from many that they sit at home and not only watch the services, but also participate in them.
I believe that we will also succeed in this with the Holy and Easter services. On Sunday, our bishop Felix Genn will celebrate Holy Mass and give an address. He interprets the Gospel.
Interviewer: There is an interesting idea on the Internet. Many miss the services and the suggestion was, when the crisis is over and all restrictions are hopefully lifted, to have the first service in each church as an Easter service. What do you think about it?
Schulte: I think that is a very good idea. Every Sunday, so to speak, is a small Easter and why shouldn't we really celebrate it in a great festivity after this crisis?.
After all the help we have received in these difficult times, we have every reason to say thank you and then celebrate this service in a dignified way.
The interview was conducted by Matthias Friebe.