Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chilly churches

A Bavarian ice church (1st image, more photos here) has been built by residents and blessed by a Catholic priest. The temporary ice church that cost $200,000 and seats 190 was constructed in Mitterfirmiansreut, Germany, on the spot that an ice church stood in 1911. At that time, according to Father Steinbeisser, villagers were protesting the rejection of their pleas for their own church, which meant they had to continue to travel 90 minutes to a neighbouring town to celebrate Mass. "It was meant as an act of provocation. Believers from the village got together and built a snow church because they didn't have a church here." When I read about this ice church, my thoughts ran to ice hotels. I only recently learned that there are more than one, and I was eager to compare chapels. In fact there are several (and this list may not be comprehensive):
  • Jukkasjärvi, Sweden (2nd and 3rd images, more photos here, video of chapel here)
  • Saariselka, Finland
  • Kemi, Finland (video of chapel here)
  • Kirkenes, Norway
  • Oppland, Norway
  • Québec, Canada (4th image, more photos here, virtual tour of chapel here)
  • Făgăraş Mountains, Romania (photos here)
Many of the ice hotels have partnered with a travel agent to increase bookings and offer special wedding packages. No such deals in Bavaria, where the bishop has ruled out any Masses, baptisms, or weddings for theological reasons. Meanwhile, Sweden's ice church - with its 6 rows of benches covered with reindeer skins - has hosted 1,000 weddings since 1994!

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