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Monday, February 2, 2015

Home Sweet Home Blog Circle, January | Otterberg Cistercian Monastery

I am super pumped about this year's blog circle with the gals I met in Amsterdam in 2013. 

Home Sweet Home! 

We decided to give you all 12 unique looks at the areas we live in... I can't wait to see (and show you!) what life is like through the eyes of all these talented photographers!

Welcome to the "Home Sweet Home" blog circle series of 2015.

Please follow this link to continue the circle around the world, starting with Anna Franken in The Netherlands!

I'm particularly excited about the topic because ever since J signed up for our second tour here in Germany, I've been wanting to go around our village with fresh eyes and photograph all the things I love love love about where we live. 

I thought it would be appropriate to start with the village church. Since it's one of my favorite things about Otterberg. 

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, this photo is from the Spring of last year. I didn't want you to think that January in Germany = green leaves. Cause it definitely does NOT. 

But this is my favorite photo of the front of the church. (The lack of cars parked out front helps) 

Anyways this is the Otterberg Cistercian Monastery. 

Also known as the "Abbey Church." It's the second tallest church in our state in Germany.

When I first stood inside this church, it took my breath away. Now, it instantly calms me. 

I've seen a lot of beautiful cathedrals in my time in Europe. But this is my favorite "big church." I love that it was constructed with a simplistic beauty. Less frills but still absolutely awe-inspiring!

For some perspective for my American friends... this church was finished being built 500 years before our country was even founded. 

I like to just go inside by myself and sit. And think. You can almost feel the rich history in the air. It's usually very quiet and I always leave with a sense of peace. I've gone there to journal and pray when I was feeling troubled. And J and I went to a professional performance of Handel's Messiah once! 

There's a local jeweler in my village who has hand-crafted a necklace of this rose window. Which My Love bought me a few years back. It's my favorite piece of jewelry. 

If you live in the area, you should definitely consider checking it out... they're limited edition! At the time we found them two years ago he had only made ten and we purchased the third one. Seriously if you want to order one, contact me at jessica.anne.aiduk@gmail.com! They are absolutely simplistically beautiful and super unique!

I was contacted by someone a couple years back who had found some of my pictures of this church online... they were really thankful to have a visual of the church where their great-great-great-grandparents were married right before they immigrated to Pennsylvania! 

Other fun facts... The Straus brothers were born in Otterberg. Isidor and Nathan would eventually acquire ownership of the Macy's department store. Isidor served as a Congressional Representative. He and his wife Ida died on board the Titanic. Their other brother Oscar Straus served under President Theodore Roosevelt as the Secretary of Commerce and Labor. 

There's also this plaque in the church. Julia helped me translate it... it reads, 

"In honoring memory of
Friederike Bauer born in Otterberg on 11. April 1811 died in New York on 3. March 1893
Katharina Bauer born in Otterberg on 2. November 1814 died in New York on 27. May 1880
After being baptized and having their first communion in this house of God, they carried His Holy Spirit to a faraway country and because of their noble life changes they left a priceless heritage to their heritors.
Hung up in faithful memory and deepest respect as a fulfilment of the longest desire by the sons and nephew
Leopold Schepp"

I think it's super unfair that my girls are growing up thinking it's normal to call a church like this "our church." They've crawled around on it since they were babies, and now they think it's "theirs!" 

Which is cute. 

But seriously. This church has generations and generations of history. And my kids think it's theirs ;-) 

It doesn't really matter where I walk in my village - to my hairdresser Nina, to the Kindergarten to get the girls, to our favorite bakery, to any of the restaurants in town - you can't help but see this church. It's presence is everywhere. 

It's been watching over this village for almost eight centuries! 

The bells ring for weddings, funerals, special occasions, etc. But every single day they ring at dawn and dusk. 

6am and 6pm, without fail.

There's a comforting rhythm to this church. A rhythm to match the rhythm of the centuries that it's watched over. Every day, twice a day. Remember. Remember who you are. Remember where you came from. Remember your faith. Remember community. 

This church is so big that it makes me feel small. And yet it's a comforting feeling. 

It's a beautiful reminder of history, human achievement, and personal faith through the centuries. 

Thanks for taking the time to check out the first installment of my "home sweet home!" Be sure to tune in to the rest of the gals for their stories and photos from around the world! 


  1. Wow I love the way the light is beaming through the windows of the church. I love churches. I always go inside to light a candle for the ones I love. Love that you kids say it's their church. It's a safe feeling inside it, isn't it. It's like you can shut off the world outside and become humble again.

    1. Safe! What a perfect description! It's like all the history and faith of so many generations is wrapping their arms around you in quiet support!

  2. Well I love the idea of having a church like that to call "your church". After all it's going to be a part of your girls history too hopefully remember such a beautiful place. I love how the light shines through and how you've captured how peaceful the place is. Loved the before shots, they were so tiny.

    1. So true Ana! It's special to have the honor of living in that village and being able to adopt it as ours!