St. Leonhardskirche

I went to organ concerts in St. Leonhardskirche down by the riverside on Alte Mainzer Gasse in Frankfurt when I was quite new to Germany in ’64. There was a concert the first Sunday of every month, and organists from all over Europe came there to play. The most famous that I heard was Germani.

That the church had been built a century before Columbus sailed was particularly impressive to a man reared in west Texas, which had for all practical purposes been settled by Americans (OK, Europeans) only after the final solution to the Comanche Problem in the 1870’s.

Leaving a more lasting impression, though, were the pews, which were clearly designed to inflict maximum pain upon the corporeal portions of the worshipers. They were fashioned of a particularly obdurate corrugated oak and were only eight or nine inches deep. They had resolutely vertical backs about ten inches high, the leading edge of which had been sharpened to dig viciously into the spine of anyone so foolish as to lean back.

The only compensation, I realized, was that modern Germans had got a bit soft, too, so we all sat there squirming in misery as our souls were lofted to heaven by the music.

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