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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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From baptism to burial

Orphans and elderly worship in a chapel inspired by Wartburg Castle

The Wartburg Chapel in Mount Vernon, N.Y., is unlike other Lutheran buildings—not only because of its history but for its architectural style.

The inside of the Basilican Romanesque building is unusual, too, from the sanctuary with pews packed together in the front half and none in the back, to the stained-glass windows depicting biblical scenes emphasizing children and the Lord’s care for the poor and infirm.

Then there’s the centerpiece: Near the top of the 40-foot ceilings are 14 dark-toned frescoes—thought to be unique in the U.S.—based on murals in the Wartburg Castle in Germany. Many center around Martin Luther’s younger years and his work with students, and on Elizabeth of Thuringia, who lived in the castle 300 years before Luther and fed the area’s poor.

As Luther might have wondered: “What does this mean?”


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