Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Church of Ice

Back in August I covered the inflatable church created at the behest of a creative Russian missionary who was having trouble getting permission to build a permanent house of worship. A century ago villagers from the German town of Mitterfirmiansreut ran into a similar problem and came up with their own unique solution - they built their church out of snow and ice. Ever since that time, the building of a snow church every winter has become a local tradition.

The snow church is part of a long-tradition in Mitterfirmiansreut dating back more than 100 years. The ritual harks back to when town authorities denied a formal request from residents to open their own traditional house of worship. So the petitioners decided instead to erect a church out of nothing but snow and ice.

"It was meant as an act of provocation," Catholic Church Dean Kajetan Steinbeisser told ABC News. "Believers from the village got together and built a snow church because they didn't have a church here."

The ice sculpture reportedly cost more than $200,000 to create and was delayed for several weeks by unseasonably warm weather. Thousands of visitors are expected to visit the mini-cathedral before it begins to melt away.

The interior of the church, shown above, is quite beautiful and looks like an excellent ritual space - that is, so long as the participants can handle the cold. Like the United States, Germany is having a warm winter season, so if you're in the area and interested in visiting the snow church you may want to do so as soon as you can. There's no telling when the weather might turn warm enough to start damaging the structure.

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