Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Depicted on frontage of the chapel built in honour of St Nicholas, where his body is interred, is an image of the wise patriarch ,surrounded by the leaders of his age, giving them advice showing the way . Yes, most unfortunately, it seems that the peaceful dialogue between the cantons came to an end for good in 1481 and a new and deadly war seemed imminent. Saint Nicholas, with wisdom and humility, but with the decisiveness of a man of God, addresses the politicians and points the road to peace. He helps identify the fragile balance that creates an opportunity for the peaceful co-existence of 26 independent, autonomous cantons with their own constitution and the right conditions to achieve this. The many states within Switzerland’s borders, united in heart and spirit, declare ‘one for all and all for one’. The Swiss model, conceived by Saint Nicholas, does not seek to melt together, depriving individuals of their identities. Switzerland is not an enormous meat grinder where people must relinquish their national and religious affiliations in the interests of peace. It is instead an island of peace, where cantons build their individual identities independently, and that of their beloved country together.
The scripture places great emphasis on peace. Jesus also asks that, upon entering a house, we lovingly express our wishes for peace to those who live there. Peace! That we can live peacefully with ourselves, our surroundings and our creator God is the most important of treasures in our life. In balance of our physical being,is the illness and the unrest of our spirit can be suffocating. Tension within our families can ruin even the most wonderful of moments, and even in the midst of the greatest of wealth, can darken with misery our daily lives. Social and political tensions may not only hinder growth and liberation, but lay ruin to achievements already attained.
Following Saint Nicholas’ death in 1487, a beautiful church was constructed opposite his solitary cabin. The church was completed in 1501. An enormous fresco decorates one of the walls of the gothic church . A round stained glass window is in the middle of the wall depicting Christ the King, speaking and listening to us with Saint Nicholas kneeling in front of Him on an enormous mountain . The mountain symbolises Switzerland and visible in the clearing are children playing, nearby a peasant working his land, a father building a house, and many many people fleeing the war to take refuge in the mountains. All round the valleys below skeletal armies are fighting under a variety of flags with their different uniforms and crowns. Unfortunately, next to the flags of the great nations of America and England, wave the flags of Hungary and Romania too. It is a very disturbing work!
For five hundred years Switzerland has neither started a war nor participated in tremendous European carnage. Close to a million Hungarian soldiers died during the first and second wars, not to mention those who were physically or spiritually disabled, nor the hundreds of thousands who spent years in prisoner camps. Saint Nicholas’s dream became a reality. He succeeded in formulating a model here on earth, which for those citizens who respect it, ensures living conditions for which everyone yearns.
Let us Pray:
Lord our God, with the intercession of Saint Nicholas, grant that as Switzerland’s 26 cantons discovered the principles of peaceful co-existence, Europe’s 27 nations may, through helping one and other, find the means to transform our continent to be a part of a world that flourishes: together, and for all. Help us Lord to bravely transform our world, our entire planet, to be a flourishing Switzerland where all countries and societies are valued; where people do not strive to subjugate or destroy each other, but rather, like brothers strive to build a country of peace; a world of brotherly love.
So that our petitions maybe heard we pray:
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
translated by dr k.e.