“500 Years of Reformation – 500 Trees in Wittenberg.” Under this motto, the Lutheran World Federation and the city of Lutherstadt Wittenberg created a living, international, and ecumenical monument for the Reformation Jubilee in 2017.
At the Andreasbreite, the first location of the Luthergarten, the Luther Rose emblem is embedded into the pavement at the center of the Luthergarten. In 2009, the first five trees were planted for five Christian World Communions (Anglicans, Reformed, Methodists, Catholics, and Orthodox).
Soon after the tree plantings began, it became apparent that the central place called for further artistic design. As the trees grew, the Luther Rose appeared to be an empty space which needed something reaching toward the sky. Artist Thomas Schönauer took up this idea in his “Heaven’s Cross” installation.
In 2016, during the Council Meeting of the Lutheran World Federation in Wittenberg, the art installation was inaugurated in a celebration in which German Federal President Joachim Gauck took part.
The art installation takes up the central form of the cross in the Luther Rose and continues it in two layers above. The dimensions don’t just grow upward, but also outward: The cross gets bigger with each level. The three layers relate to people in their dimensions of body, soul, and spirit. The layers illustrate humans’ connection to the earth, materiality, and transience, yet at the same time their striving for the immaterial and metaphysical dimensions of their existence. In the Christian perspective, the three layers are also a symbol of the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The stainless steel illustrates humans’ creative ability to make new materials out of the resources available in nature. The shining surface captures the daylight without being blinding. Despite its considerable mass, the artwork appears graceful, giving a sense of lightness and drawing the viewer’s gaze heavenward. Standing directly under the cross, one finds shelter and a sense of security as if under a roof, yet also openness and expansiveness in all directions.
Once a year, the Heaven’s Cross is the location for a worship service of thanksgiving for creation with the Philipp Melanchthon Protestant Secondary School.
The Heaven’s Cross draws visitors from around Germany and abroad. The LWF Center Wittenberg offers tours and devotions for visiting groups upon request.
We are thankful for the generous support which made this art installation possible:
Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland
Evangelische Landeskirche Anhalt
German National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation
Mirgeler, Olaf J.
Stiftung „Lebendige Stadt“
Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands