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Historic German places in WNY:

                                                                                                  St. Mary Church in East Eden
         by Martin Ederer            ity  resulted  in  mass  Christian
           ost of us don’t usually think conversions  in  the  region,  which                        by Martin Ederer            Bavarian, he was not only a compe-
      Mof  Switzerland  as  a  very obviously  foiled  the  emperor’s
                                                                                                     t.  Mary  in  East  Eden,  founded tent  theologian,  but  also  a  trained
      Catholic place. After all, big events plans in the long run.                                Sbetween 1833 and 1835, is the medical doctor. As such, his skills
      in  the  Protestant  Reformation  did  Rhaetia/Switzerland  had  its
                                                                                                  oldest Catholic parish in Erie Coun- in Eden were very much in demand
      unfold here, starting with Huldrych share  of  martyrs,  both  Roman  and                   ty  outside  of  Buffalo.  Before  St. from Catholic and Protestant alike;
      Zwingli in Zurich and all the rest of medieval. St. Maurice, who stayed
                                                                                                  Mary was established in East Eden, since  he  did  not  take  pay,  people
      his  associates.  Then  there  was  Jo- behind with his legion in Agaunum                   the  German  Catholics  living  there were  more  than  willing  to  donate
      hannes Oecolampadius in Basel. To- (now St. Maurice), was martyred. A
                                                                                                  had to travel 18 miles to Lamb of funds for a new church building on
      gether,  these  figures  not  only major  monastery  eventually  grew                       God Church (St. Louis) in Buffalo, his behalf.
      launched the Reformed tradition of up there in his honor. SS. Ursus and
                                                                                                  where  Rev.  John  Nicholas  Mertz  Construction began on the pres-
      Protestantism  but  also  Anabaptist Victor were also refugees from the                     was the founding pastor of that con- ent church in 1851. The bricks for
      traditions.  Finally,  there  was  John emperor’s  rage.  They  first  fled  to
                                                                                                  gregation.                                 the  church  were
      Calvin  in  Geneva,  which  did  not Salodurum (now Solothurn), where                          Mertz’s  succes-                        made  on  a  nearby
      become part of the Swiss Confeder- they  got  beheaded  anyway.  Then
                                                                                                  sor at Lamb of God,                        farm.  The  whole
      ation until much later. Still, much as there  was  the  later  early  medieval              Rev. Alexander Pax,                        project  was  com-
      in  Germany,  a  significant  percent- list of martyrs, interesting even for
                                                                                                  visited the village of                     plete  by  the  end  of
      age of the Swiss population claims their  names:  Germanus,  Meinrad                        Eden  and  encour-                         the  year,  from  cor-
      Catholic faith or heritage.    (there’s a St. Meinrad Abbey in In-
                                                                                                  aged  the  German                          nerstone  to  altars,
         Consider  that  very-Reformed diana), Placidus, Randoald and Wi-                         Catholics  there  to                       including  a  tower
      Zürich  still  has  its  patron  saints, borada.
                                                                                                  build a little wooden                      built entirely by one
      Felix, Regula and Exuperantius, on  The early apostles to the Swiss
                                                                                                  church  and  a  pas-                       man who was rarely
      its  city  seal.  Egyptian  Christians, were also an interesting collection.  St. Fridolin.
                                                                                                  tor’s  house.  Mertz                       sober.  By  the  time
      they  had  belonged  to  the  Theban A good many of them were Celtic                        meanwhile  went  on                        the church was com-
      Legion of the Roman Empire (com- missionaries from Ireland, working  house  and  center  of  learning  a  fundraising  mis-            pleted  it  was  paid
      manded  by  St.  Mauritius)  which in the 600s and 700s to Christianize  throughout  the  Middle  Ages.  St.  sion  in  Europe  in     for, which attests to
      was busy dealing with the Burgunds not  only  the  Swiss,  but  also  good  Othmar built this monastery on the  1836, and when he returned, he be- both the thrift and the generosity of
      in  Gaul.  This  entire  legion  was many  other  Germans  elsewhere.  site  where  the  monk  St.  Gall  had  came  pastor  of  St.  Mary  in  East the Germans who built it. The new
      Christian.                     These  included  figures  like  St.  established  his  hermitage.  This  Eden. From some of the money he church was blessed on July 28, 1863.
         When  Diocletian’s  orders  went Columban, St. Gall and St. Fridolin.  monastery became one of the most  collected there, he bought 15 acres  Various minor renovations were
      out  to  wipe  out  Christianity,  this Artworks  often  portray  Fridolin  important  Benedictine  establish-  of land for the new parish as well as made after the 1860s. Some of the
      legion was decimated twice in 286 bringing a skeleton back to life.  ments in the world. It also had one  some of the necessary furnishings: more  notable  improvements  were
      (i.e.  one-tenth  was  to  be  executed  Then there was St. Beatus, per-  of the finest libraries of ancient and  altar,  holy  water  font  and  taberna- the  addition  of  new  stained-glass
      each  time  to  enforce  compliance haps the first of any Christian mis-  medieval  volumes  in  the  world  –  cle. He also bought two bells.  windows  and  statues  from  1906-
      with paganism). When the remnants sionary active in Rhaetia – already  and still does, although the monas-  The German-born Mertz died in 1912, and new Stations of the Cross
      of the legion still refused to abandon around 110. He is portrayed, much  tery was secularized in 1798.  1844 while pastor in East Eden and in  1926.  The  most  controversial
      Christianity, the executions became like St. George, slaying the dragon  There are some important foot-  was buried in the churchyard ceme- change  came  in  1985  with  the  at-
      more systematic and thorough.  of paganism. Beatus was the patron  notes  here.  First,  the  monks  at  St.  tery. He was later reburied under the tempt to eliminate the altar rail. A
         At this point, Felix and Regula saint  of  Switzerland  until  1947,  Gallen  allowed  the  very  curious  sanctuary  of  the  present  church  in parishioner vote – poignantly indi-
      (who were siblings) took their ser- when he lost that title to St. Nicho-  Italian,  Francesco  Petrarcha,  to  1865 after – as legend has it – his cating  the  congregation’s  devotion
      vant  Exuperantius  and  fled  to las of Flüe. Even saints have no job  spend time in its library in the 14th  bones kept showing up on this brick to their building and the heritage it
      Zürich (better known at the time as security!                 century.  The  inspiration  he  drew  church’s steps after repeated reburi- symbolized  –  only  very  narrowly
      the Roman town of Turicum). The   St. Nicholas of Flüe was a mys-  from the experience here of unearth-  al in the original churchyard grave. approved the change.
      authorities  caught  up  with  them tic who died in 1487. When war had  ing neglected ancient Roman writ-  More  recent  attempts  to  locate  his  As a result of the diocesan Jour-
      there anyway. All three were tried threatened among the Swiss cantons  ings  helped  to  kick-start  the  remains  under  the  sanctuary  have ney in Faith and Grace restructur-
      and beheaded. According to the leg- in 1481, Nicholas sent a letter to the  humanist  movement,  and  arguably  failed, adding to the mystery.  ings in the first decade of the 2000s,
      end they picked up their heads and assembled Swiss leaders. We don’t  the Italian Renaissance. According-  Rev. John Nepomucene Arendt, St. Mary lost its status as a parish,
      carried  them  to  their  final  resting know the contents of the letter, but  ly,  this  complex  has  appropriately  St. Mary’s third pastor (1849-1859) having been reduced to an oratory
      spot  now  occupied  by  the  Gross- after  it  was  read,  all  parties  made  been listed as an UNESCO World  was  responsible  for  building  the attached  to  St.  John  the  Baptist
      münster. Their witness to Christian- peace. For that reason – and the fact  Heritage Site. Switzerland is much  present  brick  church  structure.  A Church in the Town of Boston.
                                                that he was canonized  more than just a pretty place!
                                                in 1947 in the wake of
                                                World  War  II  –  he
                                                was  named  the  new
                                                patron  saint  of  Swit-
                                                zerland.
                                                   Then  there  is  the
                                                monastic  heritage  of
                                                Switzerland. Two ma-
                                                jor  locations  are  Ma-
                                                ria  Einsiedeln,  the
                                                major  Swiss  Marian
                                                shrine,  which  had  its
                                                roots  in  the  activities
                                                of St. Meinrad in that
                                                region. The other was
      Saints Felix, Regula           St. Gallen, a major monastic power-
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