Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finding Christ in Copenhagen

My husband and I had the privilege to go to Copenhagen this last weekend--me to enjoy a Danish Thanksgiving with friends, him a bit later for a snowy touring weekend.

As I was going to visit friends more than see the sights, I didn't spend as much time researching the place as I normally do, and so was pleasantly surprised to find so much that was familiar in Copenhagen and the surrounding vicinity.

On Sunday we visited Frederiksporg Castle, home to Christian the IV and spectacularly re-done in the late 1800's (only the 1610ish chapel survived a fire which gutted the place).  In an ante room of the chapel our friends steered us towards the Carl Bloch paintings depicting the life of Christ from Annunciation to the Resurrection.  Countless memories of lessons and manuals and years of studying the gospel as it is understood by those of my faith came flooding back, as these paintings are heavily used in LDS publications.  I don't know why these paintings of all others in Christendom have been selected, but they have become integral to how I imagine the life of the Savior, his tenderness and wrath, sufferings and betrayal.  It was moving to be able to see the originals and experience the life of the Savior in quite a different way.

Later that night, my husband and I visited the Vor Frue church, where stands the original Christus which has been reproduced and used at several LDS temple visitor centres world-wide (including the London temple and, soon, even the Hyde Park chapel). 

Our presentation of the Christus is very different from that of the Vor Frue church.  The Christus is set up above the altar piece, and probably stands 20 feet high.  Around the nave of the church, statutes of the 12 apostles appear at regular intervals, each at about 10 feet high (on raised pillars).  In addition, my husband and I visited during the "Chill Out" service, wherein candles lit the church and each statute throughout, new age music was piped by a very talented DJ, and bean bags were provided near the altar for people to look up at the Christus and meditate (or snooze, as we found at least a few in the pews doing).  I must say I enjoyed this unconventional style of worship very much. 

While there, after our bean bag meditation, we slipped into the pew closest to "Petrus" clutching heavy keys and read a story recently related by one of our apostles, Pres. Boyd K. Packer.  There, he relates his visit to Vor Frue with President Kimball, 12th prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since Joseph Smith.  President Kimball seemed to leave a lasting impression on Vor Frue's custodian when he boldly declared, pointing to the many statues, "these are the dead Apostles.  Here we have the living Apostles (referencing Elder Packer, another apostle, and himself)," and then to the local Copenhagen priesthood leader, pointing to Peter's keys, "I want you to tell everyone in Denmark that I hold the keys! We hold the real keys, and we use them every day."

1 comment:

  1. So many of our ancestors in the church come from Denmark and it's inspiring to see how the land they came from produced such pious work. We were so glad to host you. Come back for more. I have one statue in particular that I think you'll find interesting.