By Paul Dahnen
St. Lambertus in Bliesheim is a 19th century neo-romantic church by Cologne regional architect Robert Ferdinand Cremer. The brick church has three naves, and a huge 54 meters-high west tower.
Overall, St. Lambertus is very beautiful, and perfect for the Old Rite. There is still an elaborate high altar by the Cologne Master Muschard, who in 1927 carved it from Westphalian stone. The columns of the high altar are made of German marble; the images are Italian marble, of Christ on the Mount of Olives and on Tabor. The church even preserves some valuable historical 19th Century copes and chasubles.
Unfortunately, all this was at first too good to be true. Not long after I inquired, I received from Pastor Hoffsümmer the answer that the Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Rite was prohibited in this church. This, he said, was on the instruction of his superior, Pastor Jansen from Erftstadt –Liblar. When I telephoned Pastor Jansen, I was given a terse reply and not much of a foundation for the decision.
But I was not to be so quickly discouraged; where there’s a will, there’s a way. Another childhood friend of mine, also a native of Bliesheim, Pastor Willi –Josef Space, is the responsible minister for the parish community Erftstadt-Borde. (He is responsible, as many priests are in Germany for many parishes – a total of six in his case.)
I spoke to him to ask whether we can use one of his churches, and I received a prompt commitment, as well as a disarming answer: “If the Holy Father has allowed the Old Rite, then why should we not allow it?”
He selected the Parish Church of St. Martinus in Pingsheim. To measure the site, I visited with Father Fuisting (FSSP). The 1844 Romanesque church is landmark-protected and was first established in 1022. It’s also very beautiful, with a 19th Century high altar and a Cemetery with grave crosses from the 17th through the 19th Century.
The church is much smaller than that of Bliesheim but nonetheless a gem in terms of both the furnishings and the construction; it was of course created for the Old Rite. In Pingsheim, we were even very welcome– there was strong support by the Church Council and the Sexton.
We fixed on date for 15 April, the Friday after the first Passion Sunday. So, we rehearsed the proper chorales for this with our lay Schola. Father Fuisting celebrated the Mass, supported by a group of young altar servers from Wesseling.
About 70 believers found their way to Pingsheim for a weekday Mass, for that first time. It had been more than 40 years since the last time the Old Mass was celebrated in that beautiful church.
Since then, we celebrate the Mass at Pingsheim every three weeks, and slowly people are beginning to know this, and believers are finding their way there.