|Poles Hope Deadly Knights will Now Bring Some Good|
The Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Bruno Platter, background centre, prays over the remains and effigies, during a ceremony honouring three of the medieval Teutonic grand masters, at the Cathedral in Kwidzyn, northern Poland, Saturday, July 31, 2010. They were medieval warriors who spread Catholicism by the sword and seized Polish lands with great cruelty. But that's not stopping the Polish city of Kwidzyn from capitalizing on the aura surrounding the Teutonic Knights. The city, dominated by a massive red brick fortress that was once a base for their notorious raids is consecrating a church crypt and displaying the newly discovered skeletons of three of the order's 14th- and 15th-century military leaders or "grand masters." AP Photo/Alik Keplicz.
By: Monika Scislowska, Associated Press Writer
KWIDZYN (AP).- The Teutonic Knights have long been reviled in Poland, where the Germanic warriors swept in during the Middle Ages and converted pagans to Christianity at the point of a sword.
Many here see them as an early incarnation of a Germany that has attacked Poland over the centuries, most recently in World War II.
But now one Polish town is putting all grudges aside and celebrating the memory of the Teutonic Knights in an attempt to highlight the rich history of this once-German municipality and stimulate tourism in a region still catching up with Western Europe economically.
In an elaborate ceremony Saturday that drew hundreds of people, Roman Catholic priests consecrated the newly discovered remains of three of the order's 14th- and 15th-century leaders or "grand masters" with a Mass in the city's St. John the Evangelist Cathedral.
The cathedral is part of a massive red-brick fortress that was once a base for the knights' notorious raids, an imposing reminder to the town's 40,000 inhabitants of its German past.
"This history belongs to this city," said Wojciech Weryk, who leads a drive to promote Kwidzyn. "It is a very good product from the point of view of history and tourists."
The ceremony was celebrated by priests and modern-day representatives of the Teutonic order, which today exists as a religious order in Austria and six other European countries, and is devoted to helping the poor, elderly and orphans, and doing educational and pastoral work. It was led by the Rev. Bruno Platter, who holds the title of "Grand Master of the Teutonic Order." For part of the ceremony he was clad in the order's trademark white coat with a black cross.
"Looking at this monumental cathedral which our order built in the 13th century, we feel a strong link with this place and we draw strength from it," Platter said.
Kwidzyn was once the German town of Marienwerder and one of key fortresses of the Teutonic Knights in the Middle Ages. But the city fell to Poland in 1945 when Hitler's defeat forced Germany to relinquish a swath of territory to the eastern neighbor on whom it inflicted six years of occupation and death.
Weryk says there are some people in the town who object to honoring the Teutonic Knights, but he argues that such feelings have no place in the European Union.
Many of the local people also feel proud that their historic town has something new to boast of.
"We are happy that something so significant was found here and that we will have something of interest in our cathedral," said Janusz Urbanowicz, a 64-year-old retired carpenter. "We know that this was the cathedral of the Teutonic Knights and that this was Prussia before the war. But we are glad this historical finding was made and that it will bring more tourists."
During the ceremony, Platter blessed three closed oak coffins holding the remains of the grand masters below a glass floor in the crypt of the cathedral. Their skeletons were discovered during archaeological work in the crypt in 2007 and were identified by DNA and other testing.
"Kwidzyn is the only place where the remains of medieval grand masters have been found," Platter told The Associated Press. "They are of very high historical and archaeological value."
Plastic replicas have also been displayed showing the men as they are believed to have looked with long white hair and beards and colorful dress based on a 16th-century mural in the cathedral, said Bogumil Wisniewski, a city archaeologist.
The testing identified them as Werner von Orseln, the knights' ruler from 1324-1330; Ludolf Koenig von Wattzau, who ruled from 1342-1345; and Heinrich von Plauen, from 1410-1413.
Fragments of original gold-painted silks found on their skeletons on displayed in the crypt separately.
The Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary's Hospital in Jerusalem was founded in the late 12th century to aid German pilgrims in the Holy Land. It evolved into a military order whose knights wore trademark white coats with black crosses. Later, they forcefully brought Christianity to swaths of northeastern Europe and ruled an area near the Baltic Sea coast in what is now northern Poland.
Their bad image in Poland was reinforced with a popular 19th century novel "Teutonic Knights" by the Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Nobel prize winning author of "Quo Vadis."
Every year Poles celebrate the anniversary of the 1410 Battle of Grunwald, also known as the first Battle of Tannenberg, which marked the end of the Teutonic order's military power and eastward expansion along the Baltic Sea and the beginning of its decline.
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of people turned out to watch 2,000 actors dressed in armor re-enact the battle on its 600th anniversary.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
August 3, 2010
Photographer Steve McCurry Shoots De Niro, Brooklyn, India on Last Kodachrome Roll
From Your Kitchen to Michigan Avenue: Refrigerators and Art Converge
'American Gothic' Public Art Sculpture to Tower Over Other Exhibits at State Fair
SFMOMA Elects New Members to Board of Trustees, Salutes Three Staff Members
Advice on Protecting Fine Art Against High Temperatures
Over Half a Million Visit Record-Breaking 17th Biennale of Sydney
Set Your Place with Picasso Plates at Bonhams' First Ever Editions Sale
Amon Carter Museum Adds 'of American Art' to Its Name
Florence Griswold Museum Announces Major Art Acquisition
Last Carnegie Hall Resident, Elizabeth Sargent, Forced Out of Towers
The Ashmolean Announces Its First Major Exhibition: The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy
Unemployed Book Dealer Gets Jail for Stolen Shakespeare Tome
Poles Hope Deadly Knights will Now Bring Some Good
Quirky Roadside Attraction, Stonehenge II, Moving
Limited Edition Photograph Art of Hollywood Stars Before they Were Legend
Transbay Temporary Terminal Set to Open
At Meeting in Brasilia, UNESCO Adds More Sites to the World Heritage List
Christie's Announce Landmark Lowry Sale from the Collection of Selwyn Demmy
Eastern Europe Under Spotlight on Art Restitution Cases
Marco Brambilla Commissioned by Kanye West for New Video
Comic Book Buff from Alaska Selling Rare Copy of Batman No. 1
Art Fest Champions British Talent in Olympic Shadow
Author Neil Gaiman Wins Suit Over Spawn Characters
Chicagoland Artists Sought for Major New Competition
Holocaust Museum to Romania: Scrap 'Racist' Coin
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- New York's Eric Edwards, who owns a $10 million collection, works to open African art museum
2.- Two thousand year old ritual bath found during renovations in private house in Jerusalem
3.- Klimt and the Ringstrasse: A Showcase of Grandeur opens at the Belvedere in Vienna
4.- Sotheby's London unveils masterworks from the collections of Castle Howard
5.- Most comprehensive exhibition on Van Dyck as a portraitist to be shown at the Frick in 2016
6.- Huge new record for masterpiece by Cranach the Elder at Sotheby's sale in London
7.- Spanish treasure from 17th century ship that sank off Florida on sale in New York
8.- Rodin sculpture stolen in $1 million Beverly Hills home invasion recovered after 24 years
9.- Prague-born writer Franz Kafka papers belong to Israel national library: Israeli court
10.- Sotheby's to offer 15th century marriage ring unearthed with metal detector
Poles Hope Deadly Knights will Now Bring Some Good
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|