Good Friday and the Cologne Knight

One of the nice things about having my daughter at a Christian school is that we have to learn more about Christianity. And this learning, in turn, has given me a bigger picture on customs, traditions, and allusions in western civilization.

Today, Kelly sang with her class during the early Good Friday service at the church. I’ve never gone to a Good Friday service, so I took Neil with me. The pastor reviewed five steps in the crucifixion of Christ: condemnation, the walk to Calvary carrying the cross, the crucifixion, death, and burial. At each stage, the lights in the church were dimmed further, until we were sitting in near silence.

One part particularly intrigued me: before we started reviewing the steps, everyone in the church was invited to take a nail and insert it into a cross at the front of the church.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but eventually I prompted Neil to take a nail and put it in. But I wondered if the act might be related to the symbolism of Cologne’s Knight:

As I recounted in an earlier post, this knight was created as a fundraiser to support Colognial invalids, as the widows and orphans of Colognials who had died in World War I (the worst war ever, though according to Neil’s history books, the Thirty Years War was pretty dreadful and pointless, too.) At the beginning, it was merely a wooden statue, and citizens would buy the nails, which they could then insert or nail into the knight. Perhaps it is symbolically related to the Lutheran veneration of the cross, since this nailing commemorated those who had sacrificed themselves for their fellow countrymen.

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