chapter  6
28 Pages

Staging the Eucharist, Adiaphora, and Shaping Lutheran Identities in the Transylvanian Parish Church

ByEvelin Wetter

Entering a parish church at the dawn of the Reformation, for instance the parish church St Sebald in Nuremberg, a visitor would be faced with something of the complexities of late medieval piety. In one direction, they would be drawn to the shrine of the patron saint at the axis of the sanctuary, while believers were also visually and physically guided to the focal point symbolizing the veneration of the Eucharist, i.e. the sacrament house.1 On Sundays, and principal feast-days mass was generally celebrated at the high altar; it was used for private masses as well, which were also celebrated at a series of side altars, donated by individuals as well as by political and professional corporations.2 The cult of saints with their relics and Eucharistic piety represented not only important certainties of Christian belief, but their material and visual manifestations also reflected social relationships within the medieval city. Due to the specific attitude of the Nuremberg authorities, this religious dynamic with their associated furnishings has largely been preserved in the city’s parish churches after the Lutheran Reformation.3 By contrast, the Lutheran churches in Transylvania appear as purified interiors. Of the range of medieval Catholic furnishings sometimes pulpits and pews are still extant, remnants of sacrament niches, or even entire sacrament houses sometimes ‘survived’, of course without their original function.4 Generally

1 G. Weilandt, Die Sebalduskirche in Nürnberg. Bild und Gesellschaft im Zeitalter der Gotik und Renaissance (Petersberg, 2007), pp. 156-63, 106-09.