Saarlouiser Ludwigsfenster

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Interior of the Church of St. Ludwig on the Great Market in Saarlouis
Back wall of the organ loft in St. Ludwig, with the painting Sacra Conversazione (Ernst Alt)

The Saarlouis Ludwigsfenster belong to a cycle of stained glass that was created by the Saarbrücken artist Ernst Alt for the Saarlouis parish church of St. Ludwig .


On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the city of Saarlouis in 1980, the visual artist Alt started a new window cycle with the pelican window in the church of St. Ludwig in 1979, which was continued successively until the artist's death in 2013. The windows were manufactured by Derix and “Die Kunstglaser”, both in Rottweil, in antique glass with a thickness of 2 to 3 mm. The leading black solder painter was Johannes Görgen. The baking was carried out in several stages at 600 ° C. The antique glasses used were made by the Lamberts glassworks in Waldsassen . Since the drafts for the outstanding windows are already available, the colored glazing could be continued in the future.

The themes of the windows were conceived in such a way that they all relate in some way to the life theme of St. Louis and its close relation to Christ's crown of thorns. Louis IX had acquired the alleged crown of thorns of Jesus Christ as part of his crusade in Constantinople in 1237 and had the Sainte-Chapelle built in Paris to store it. It is now kept in the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. The overwhelming color-intensive effect of the interior of the Sainte-Chapelle inspired Ernst Alt to design the allegorically highly charged window cycle in St. Ludwig.

In the autumn of 1979, Ernst Alt presented his window designs in Saarlouis and began his explanation with the motto “What we call an ideal world is over.” The artist had dealt with the architecture of the Böhm concrete building and its effect on the viewer said in this regard:

“It was both a joy and a struggle for me to be formally inspired by the given architecture and to contradict it in the image statement. It was therefore a matter of designing the light shafts and viewing slits of this immense cult cave and this inner mountain of the Grail as a view and insight.

The building as an expressive concrete sculpture, the city with its Vauban fortress layout and the title saint of the church - Saint Ludwig - provided the program for the interpretation of salvation history, which I wanted to set against the lost understanding of history of our days: power and powerlessness, royalty and servitude, fame and Passion, life and death. "

The cycle with the title “Saarlouis Thorn Passion” should be an interpretation of the “thorn theme” in the Bible: starting with the book of Genesis (expulsion from paradise, rams with Abraham in the thorn bush) to the book Exodus (burning thorn bush with Moses), the metaphorical ones Thorns of suffering sufferers, psalmists and prophets in the Bible up to the crown of thorns in the Passion of Jesus.

In addition, Ernst Alt designed other windows that should be understood as part of an overall concept. Two windows have not yet been realized, but are in the draft. Ernst Alt designed the colored glazing of the two tall side windows as a prophet window and a king window.

Prophet window

The 10.50 m high prophet window was supposed to represent the prophets as servants of God in biblical chronological order. In the lower part planted Noah after the enduring flood and the covenant with God ( Gen 9.9 to 10  EU ) a vine ( Gen 9.20  EU ). The next prophet is Abraham , who is moving away from the city of Ur in Chaldea in the south of what is now Iraq and is asked by God to move to a country that he will show him. His descendants would be numerous and he would be a blessing to all peoples. In old age Abram moves to Canaan ( Gen 11.27  EU - Gen 25.10  EU ). In Ernst Alt's conception , Abraham is followed by Moses , who, as a commissioner from God according to biblical tradition, leads the Israelites on a forty-year journey from Egyptian slavery to the Canaanite land, but is not allowed to enter it himself. Above Moses follows Job , who lives as a wealthy and God-fearing man in the land of Uz and whose faith is severely tested due to a bet between Satan and God . At the top of the window the prophet Jonah was to be depicted, who tried to evade God's commission, but finally had to submit to the divine will.

King's Window

The 7.50 m high king window should represent the "ancestral line of the ideal kings of Salem (Jerusalem)". Based on the royal gallery of medieval cathedrals or the throne room of Neuschwanstein Castle with its royal gallery, Ernst Alt shows a vertical chronology of rulers who each stand on the shoulders of their predecessor and wear pointed golden crowns. The beginning is made by the biblical priest-king of Salem, Melchizedek , who, wearing a priestly stole, offers wine in a gold goblet and bread to the highest god Gen 14: 18-20  EU . Melchizedek is also mentioned in Psalm Ps 110.4  EU , a promise of sovereignty to the Davidic king of Israel , who is also high priest : “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”. In the New Testament, the figure of Melchizedek is emphasized in the Epistle to the Hebrews in chapters 5-7. Here Jesus Christ is called high priest according to the order of Melchizedek Hebr 5,6.10  EU and thus conceived an independent soteriology .

On the shoulders of the aged Priest- King Melchizedek , the young King David dances with the harp , only blown around by a white fabric band of the priestly Efod that winds around the naked body . Ernst Alt addresses the episode from the Second Book of Samuel , in which David has the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem in a solemn procession, dances ecstatically in front of the Lord and thereby makes himself look ridiculous in the eyes of his wife Michal (6: 14-22 EU ). Ernst Alt designed the harp head as a log of grapes, which can refer to the donation of grape cake when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem and to the New Testament Eucharist.

The person of David is linked to the prophetic promise that the expected Messiah must come from the house of David, so that Jesus is addressed several times in the New Testament with the title " Son of David ". In Christian iconography of the Middle Ages, David was considered the prototype of the psalmist and poet. In the hymn Dies irae , he and the Sibyl prophesied the coming of the Last Judgment . In addition, in the courtly imagination of the Middle Ages, David was seen as an exemplary knight and king. Likewise, the biblical anointing of David by the prophet Samuel served as a model for the church anointing of kings in the Middle Ages.

Ernst Alt now portrays his son Solomon on the shoulders of his father David . Dressed in splendid royal robes, he is swinging a golden censer and holding a pomegranate that has burst open in his right hand. The censer indicates the temple cult, which he founded in Jerusalem with the building of the first temple . His wisdom became proverbial. Traditionally, Solomon is considered to be the author of the biblical writings Book of Proverbs , Ecclesiastes , Song of Songs and Book of Wisdom . The pomegranate relates to the Song of Songs, where the advantages of the beloved are compared with the well-being of a pomegranate.

Finally, King Ludwig IX appears at the top of the royal gallery . of France , the patron saint of the Saarlouis church building, to want to climb into the heavenly Jerusalem with the waving crusade banner. Dressed in knight armor and a blue royal cloak, he lifts Christ's crown of thorns in his hands . In the center of the deep red crown of thorns, illuminated by golden sparks, appears the golden Star of David . From the crown of thorns a stream of blood flows down as a symbol of guilt and abuse of power, sullies all the kings who are under Louis and finally flows into the gold chalice of Melchizedek in the lower part of the picture.

Saarlouis thorn passion

Window cycle of the Old Testament

The window cycle of the Old Testament and the history of Judaism contains five picture windows so far.

The garnet thorn or the psaltery of life

Ernst Alt designed the window in 1981. The glass picture is above the windows, which deal with Old Testament themes. The center of the picture is a harp, the arch of which is formed by twigs of thorns, which change from deep red on the harp foot to bright yellow on the harp neck to fresh green on the harp head. The harp foot is designed in the shape and color of a human heart. The head of the harp unfolds into fresh foliage, in which the viewer can recognize the four developmental stages of a pomegranate from the red blossom to the small fruit, the ripe fruit and the fruit that breaks open with its translucent seed coats . The seeds of the pomegranate pour blood-red fruit juice from the peel, evoke associations with a bleeding wound, and seem to flow over the wavy dark purple webbing of the prayer mantle in the lower half of the picture to the gnarled heart-shaped harp foot. In addition to the biblical associations of the pomegranate , it traditionally stands symbolically for life in abundance, rich fertility , but also for blood and death.

The harp is played by a man whose face can be seen behind the strings of the harp with introspective eyes. His hands are delicate. On the ring finger of his right hand, the harpist wears a gold ring, which can be seen as a symbol of loyal bondage, but also in connection with Lessing's ring parable. The man's emaciated face and white hair suggest an advanced age. A long beard, sidelocks ( Lev 19.27  EU ) as well as a wavy puffy prayer shawl with woven blue stripes and long threads make the man recognizable as a Jew. The aged harpist's open pale lips suggest accompanying singing. The heart-shaped harp foot is positioned by the artist on the harpist's chest and gives the impression of an open heart.

The interwoven structure of the heart-harp foot sits on the lower edge of the picture and can also be interpreted as the rhizome of the garnet thorn. In the old man's head area, the harp bow forms a red and gold crown braid. The cyclical structure of the psaltery harp from the rhizome over the thorns to the pouring fruit arouses associations with the cycle of life with its growth and decay.

The harpist seems to act as the great narrator of the mighty biblical cycle, from which individual scenes are represented by the artist Ernst Alt in symbolic images. There does not seem to be a real first beginning and a final end, according to the interpretable statement of the picture, for the artist. Everything arises, unfolds in its thorny ugliness and regular beauty, its unfinished imbalance and matured perfection, its raw ungracefulness and meek tenderness and dies only to be thrown back into existence in a changed shape. All in all, the artist's pictorial statement seems to be closer to a reincarnational worldview than to a Judeo-Christian linear understanding of world and human history and its inherent hope of salvation. The meaning and goal of any development seem to be non-existent. Everything is a thorny, bloody path with no beginning or end. “It is over with what we call an ideal world,” said the artist when he first presented his concept of the Saarlouis window cycle in 1979.

The sacrifice of Abraham - entangled ram - Morija

According to the signature, Ernst Alt completed the window in autumn 1983. The picture addresses the attempted sacrifice of Isaac in the story of the Old Testament ( Gen 22: 1–19  EU ). God commands Abraham to go to the land of Moriah and to sacrifice his son Isaac there . At the last moment at the sacrificial site, however , an angel prevents Abraham from killing his son. Abraham is then rewarded for his fear of God because he was ready to make this great sacrifice. According to Gen 22:13, a ram gets caught with its horns in the bushes and is slain by Abraham instead of his son and offered as a burnt offering.

In keeping with the tradition of Christian theology, which interpreted Abraham's sacrifice as a mysterious foreshadowing (pre-configuration) of the execution of Jesus interpreted as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, Ernst Alt left the window “The sacrifice of Abraham - Morija” with the opposite windows “Chased in unicorn - Incarnation ”and“ Easter Leap of the Lamb ”correspond, both of which deal with the incarnation, execution and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ram motif and the Eucharistic symbolism of the Agnus Dei correspond here.

According to the Protestant theologian and Old Testament scholar Hermann Gunkel , the story of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham was understood in such a way that a historical turning point between the practiced child sacrifice and animal sacrifice for the purpose of the mercy of the deity can be grasped in text. The biblical text itself does not reveal any fundamental critical examination of the subject of human or child sacrifice. Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son is even expressly approved in the text ( Gen. 22.12  EU ). In Isaac's question about the lamb (v. 7), animal sacrifice is, however, assumed as a common cult practice.

In traditional Christian religious mediation, the Old Testament narrative was cited with the affirmative intention to emphasize God's love for mankind that transcends everything, who spares Isaac but gives his own son Jesus to atone for guilty mankind through the sacrifice on the cross to establish a new merciful covenant of God. According to Christian theologians, no other passage in the Torah prefigured the crucifixion of the “beloved Son” ( Mk 1,11  EU ), which God “did not spare” ( Rom 8,32  EU ), but gave to life of the world ( Jn 3,16  EU ), like the sacrifice of the “beloved son” Isaac (Gen 22,2). The parallels between Isaac carrying wood as a priestly act and the “high priest” and “new Adam” Jesus Christ carrying the wood of the cross, who gave himself up in blood on the “altar of the cross”, were also emphasized. Consequently, in Christian iconography, the sacrifice of the “beloved only son” (Gen 22.2) was often represented as the type of the sacrifice of the cross.

In Jewish tradition, the Abraham sacrifice is associated with the festival of Rosh Hashanah , the festival of the New Year. The festival is considered the anniversary of the creation of the world, but it also represents the anniversary of the birth of Adam. In memory of the ram's horns from the tale of the sacrifice that got caught in the bushes, the festival is also the day of the shofar blowing. In remembrance of the purity of the Abrahamic sacrifice, symbolized by the white fur of the ram, the liturgical color of this day in Judaism is also white.

With stormy lines, Ernst Alt shows a ram with its horns caught in thorny branches. When the animal's eye is open, the viewer recognizes that the ram is being burned alive. The twitching tongues of flame and the curly fur of the sacrificial animal merge. The design of the thorn bush evokes associations with the burning thorn bush ( Ex 3.1–15  EU ) in the neighboring Exodus window. In the upper left area of ​​the picture, the lashing flames of the sacrificial fire seem to merge with the glowing sun disk shown there. Through the symbolism of the sun, Ernst Alt could refer to the first day of creation, based on the tradition of the Jewish festival Rosh Hashanah, which in the narrative of the Bible is associated with the emergence of light ( Gen 1, 1–4  EU ). In addition, the sun motif in the picture “The Sacrifice of Abraham - Trapped Aries - Morija” corresponds to the moon motif in the opposite picture “Chased in unicorn - Incarnation”. Likewise, the open animal eyes in the ram picture with its solar motif correspond to the closed animal eyes in the unicorn picture with its lunar motif. Regarding the coloring, Ernst Alt mainly uses tones of the warm spectrum in the Aries picture, while in the unicorn picture he mainly uses tones of the cold spectrum.

Burning bush - Exodus

Ernst Alt completed the window in 1994. Here the artist addresses the appearance and revelation of God in the Burning Bush ( הַסְּנֶה בֹּעֵר ha-səneh boʕēr Ex 3.1–15  EU ) on Mount Horeb :

“Moses grazed the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jitro, the priest of Midian. One day he drove the cattle across the steppe and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame that struck up from a thorn bush. He looked: The thorn bush was on fire and yet did not burn. Moses said, I want to go there and see the extraordinary appearance. Why doesn't the thorn bush burn? When the Lord saw Moses coming closer to look at it, God called to him from the thorn bush: Moses, Moses! He replied: Here I am. The Lord said: Don't come any closer! Take off your shoes; because the place where you stand is holy ground. Then he went on: I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Then Moses covered his face; for he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said: I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their loud complaint against their drivers. I know their suffering. I came down to snatch them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a beautiful, wide land, into a land where milk and honey flow, into the region of the Canaanites , Hittites , Amorites , Perizzites , Hivites and Jebusites . Now the loud complaint of the Israelites has reached me and I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. And now go! I am sending you to the pharaoh. Bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt! Moses answered God, Who am I, that I could go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? But God said: I am with you; I have sent you and you shall serve as a sign: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain. Then Moses said to God, `` Well, I will come to the Israelites and tell them, 'The God of your fathers sent me to you. They'll ask me: what's his name? What should I say to them? Then God answered Moses: I am the "I-am-there". And he went on: This is how you should say to the Israelites: The "I-am-there" has sent me to you. Then God said to Moses, Say to the Israelites: The Lord , the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. That is my name forever and that is how I will be called in all generations. "

In front of a dark blue background in the “Burning Bush - Exodus” window, an almost screen-filling vortex of flames in red and yellow tones unfolds. The tongue-like flames and embers are iconographically reminiscent of the tongues of fire of the New Testament Pentecost miracle ( Acts 2.1-3  EU ). The wreath-like shape of the fire rotation allows the viewer to recognize the motif of Jesus' crown of thorns, which appears again and again in the picture cycle. In the center of the vertebra an eye with a blue iris becomes visible, which is surrounded by the white dermis . The representation arouses associations with the Eye of Providence , a symbol which is usually interpreted as the all-seeing eye of God penetrating all mysteries and intended to remind people of God's eternal vigilance.

The iris gives the impression of a round tunnel, as its concentric circles are made darker and darker towards the center of the iris. The left visible half of the white leather skin is designed by Ernst Alt as a cornucopia from which a white drop flows. The drop can be interpreted as God's tears of pity regarding the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt or it is related to the cornucopia motif for the promise of prosperity in the promised land. The right visible part of the white dermis takes the form of a white feather. It could be a reference to the angelic apparition in the burning bush ( Ex 3.2  EU ).

In the upper right area of ​​the picture, the self-revelation of God as YHWH ( Hebrew יהוה) visible. At the opposite end of the imaginary diagonal you can see the loosened sandals of Moses, which identify the place of God's revelation as a holy place. The straps of the left, upright sandal are stretched and seem to be tied in the thorn bush, while the straps of the right, lying sandal are loosened on the floor.

As a reference to the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt, Ernst Alt has positioned a dark blue scarab in the lower right area of ​​the picture , which tries to capture the vortex formation in the center with its antler-like forelegs. In Egyptian mythology, the scarab has a strong solar, auspicious aspect. He was identified with the course of the sun, whereby the ball of dung he rolls becomes the sun, which he shapes, transports and buries, which is equated with the sunset. The scarab is brought into a mythological proximity to the sun god Re .

To the left of the dark scarab, a rod-like, closely-leafed green plant sprouts in the direction of the upper left area of ​​the picture and thus penetrates the vortex of flames of the burning bush. At the height of the divine eye, the plant sprout takes on the shape of a snake. The motif refers to the biblical narrative in which Moses asks God for a legitimation miracle of his divine commission to the Israelites ( Ex 4,1-5, 17  EU ):

“Moses answered: What if they don't believe me and don't listen to me, but say: Yahweh has not appeared to you? The Lord replied: What do you have in your hand? He replied: A staff. Then the Lord said: Throw him on the ground! Moses threw him on the ground. Then the staff turned into a serpent, and Moses backed away from it. And the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand and take it by the tail. He reached out and grabbed her hand. Then it became a staff again in his hand. Let them believe you that Yahweh appeared to you, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. (...) Take this stick in your hand! With him you will perform the signs. "

The "Burning Bush - Exodus" window corresponds creatively with the opposite window "Pierced Heart", whereby the Burning Bush and the thorn-entwined heart, the snake staff and the lance, the scarab and the caterpillar, the name of God and the INRI inscription as well as the Sandals and the cross nails match respectively.

Homesick vespers - exile

Ernst Alt created the window in 2004. Here the artist addresses the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, which took place in 597 BC. Chr. With the conquest of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. Began and until the conquest of Babylon in 539 v. Lasted by the Persian king Cyrus II .

The experiences of this exile found their most impressive lyrical condensation in Psalm 137 , where it says in wistful and at the same time hateful words:

“By the rivers of Babylon , we sat and wept when we thought of Zion . We hung our harps on the willows in that land. There the captives demanded songs from us, our tormentors demanded cheers: "Sing us songs of Zion!" How could we sing the songs of the Lord , far away, on strange earth? If I ever forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth when I no longer think of you, when I do not raise Jerusalem to my greatest joy. Lord, do not forget the day of Jerusalem for the sons of Edom ; they said: "Tear down, tear it down to the bottom!" Daughter of Babel, you destroyer! Happy those who pay you back for what you have done to us! Happy the one who grabs your children and smashes them on the rock! "

The displaced are longing to return to their homeland and worship their God on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They want to rebuild the destroyed city and the temple of Solomon , which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon. This expulsion was foretold by many prophets for their unfaithfulness to God. The psalmist of Psalm 137, however, is not capable of self-criticism of the God-forgotten behavior of his own people, but projects his dejection as brutal hatred on the tormentors.

In front of a vertically structured bluish background, which can be interpreted as the stream of tears or the waters of Babel sung about in the Psalm, there is no willow tree, unlike in the Psalm, but a dark, leafless thorn bush as a sign of hopelessness. A red harp is hung from its branches, the strings of which have broken. In biblical tradition , the harp is particularly associated with King David , the legendary psalmist. The monarchical statehood of the Jews, however, expressed by the destroyed harp strings, is lost. In addition, the vertically hanging strings are reminiscent of the bars of a prison and thus create an additional reference to the imprisonment of the exile situation. The harp's head has taken the form of red drops of blood that seem to be about to pour over the seven-armed candlestick.

In addition, a ram's skull with a broken horn hangs above the harp in the thorn bush. The sacrificial cult of the Jerusalem temple is interrupted. The skull is also to be interpreted as a symbol of death. Within the window cycle, the ram's skull refers to the picture “The Sacrifice of Abraham - Entangled Ram - Morija”.

In the lower left area of ​​the picture, a golden menorah , the seven-armed candlestick and one of the most important religious symbols of Judaism shine against the dark background . The lights on the chandelier arms made of gold balls have gone out and their smoke rises in wavy lines diagonally in the direction of the upper right of the picture through the broken strings of the harp. According to biblical tradition , when Moses received the tablets with the ten commandments on Mount Sinai , he was commissioned to erect the tabernacle as a temporary sanctuary. One of the cult objects of this monastery tent was a seven-armed candlestick ( Ex 25.31–40  [1] ; Ex 37.17–24  [2] ). The menorah, the seven lights of which presumably stood for the seven large celestial bodies that were observable at the time and the days of the week associated with them, presumably only came into being after the Babylonian exile and then became part of the temple cult.

The sacrificial cult, temple liturgy and cultic song are extinguished in Ernst Alt's picture window and seem to be drowned in a stream of tears. Overall, the picture “Homesickness - Exile” corresponds to the opposite window “Funeral Mass - Exitus”: the ram's skull corresponds to the skeleton of a fish, the destroyed red harp to the tattered red stole, the extinguished menorah to the overturned Christian cult vessels. While Ernst Alt still suggests with the title “ Vespers ” that it has become evening - from a religious point of view, the title of the corresponding window “ Mette ” means that the night has reached its climax, but also its turning point.

Abraham's seed - writing on the wall

Ernst Alt completed the window in 2005. The artist is referring to God's promise to Abraham (Gen 22, 15-18) after the sacrifice of Isaac, which God himself broke off . Because of Abraham's willingness to slaughter his son on divine commission, he is rewarded for his fear of God :

“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said: I have sworn by myself - saying of the Lord: Because you have done this and have not withheld your only son from me, I will give you and your blessings in abundance To make offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Let your descendants take the gate of their enemies. All peoples of the earth are to bless themselves with your descendants, because you have listened to my voice. "

The second biblical reference point of the glass painting is the menetekel story from the Book of Daniel , which takes place during the Babylonian captivity . Here, in chapter 5, verses 1–30, it is described how the Babylonian ruler Belšazar is punished by God because, while he was drunk, he abused cult vessels of the Jerusalem temple for drinking and had his pagan gods praised. A ghostly hand without a human body appears and, to the horror of Belšazar, writes strange words on the wall with its fingers. The prophet Daniel then reads the words "Mene mene tekel u-parsin" (מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין). According to his statement, they mean: “ Mene : Counted, that is, God has counted the days of your royal rule and ended them. Tekel : Weighed, that is, you were weighed on the scales and found to be too light. Peres (U-parsin) : Your kingdom will be divided and handed over to the Persians and Medes ”. Belšazar is murdered that same night.

The symbols of the three world religions referring to Abraham, Judaism ( Star of David ), Christianity ( cross ) and Islam ( crescent moon ) are interlocked in the upper part of the picture. The cross is broken in its trunk. A fire torch appears at the point of fracture, the immediate flames of which have assumed the shape of a hand written on the wall. The torch has pushed itself into the interior of the Star of David and started a tremendously blazing fire. The torch stick has taken on the shape of a red swastika , in the center of which a black swastika becomes visible. Interwoven with a cross and a swastika, Ernst Alt shows a gold bishop's cross with five red gemstones and an iron cross .

In the upper right area of ​​the picture, a dark purple thorn bush is visible in front of an ominous bluish, wavy structured background, which can be seen in connection with the thorn bush of the Sacrifice of Isaac. The end of a barbed wire has got caught in its prickly branches , which in the lower part of the picture is spiraled into a roll of barbed wire. An archaic victim theology always gives birth to new victims and perpetuates excesses of violence. The barbed wire roll corresponds to the tied green snake in the window opposite, “Easter Laugh - Amen”.

Below you can see a pair of shoes, glasses and four broken artificial gold crowns . In a spring stream, three gold rings shimmer at the bottom left, surrounded by delicate green leaves. The individual motifs can be interpreted by the observer as references to the so-called concentration camps of the National Socialist era . Gold rings, shoes, glasses and tooth crowns are left behind from murdered concentration camp inmates.

Ernst Alt obviously understands the absolute truth claim of the three monotheistic world religions as an ominous constellation of violence. The three rings of the so-called ring parable from the play Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in the lower left area of ​​the picture are clearly related to this . The parable in Lessing's play tells of a man who owns a ring that has the property of making its wearer " pleasant before God and man" if the owner wears it "with this confidence". This ring was passed down from father to son he loved most for generations. But one day it happens that a father has three sons and does not want to favor any of them. That is why he has an artist make exact ring duplicates, bequeaths one of the rings to each of his sons and assures everyone that his ring is the real one.

After the father's death, the sons go to court to clarify which of the three rings is the real one. But the judge is unable to determine this. He reminds the three men that the real ring has the property of making the wearer popular with all other people. But if this effect did not occur in any of the three sons, then the real ring was lost. The judge advises the sons that each of them should believe that their ring is the real one. Her father was equally fond of all three and therefore could not bear to favor one of them and offend the other two. If one of the rings is the real one, then this will show in the future in the effect it is said to have been. Every ring bearer should try to bring about this effect for himself. The parable of the three rings is regarded as a key text of the Enlightenment and as a pointed formulation of the religious idea of ​​tolerance . In Ensts Alt's picture design, the three rings literally "fell into the water" through religious and political excesses of violence. The ideas of humanity and religious tolerance are perverted by religious fanaticism.

The cross of Jesus Christ was placed on the golden chain of a power-oriented official church. The golden pectoral broke the wooden trunk of the cross. The golden chain links of the pectoral hanging down form a victory rune and connect with the barbed wire roll, the seemingly endless spiral of violence. Ernst Alt could also point to the extensive silence of the church on the genocide of the Jews. The perverted Christianity, which denies the ethics of Jesus, symbolized by the deformation of its symbol, initiated by a power-oriented official church, enters into an unholy alliance with pseudo-religious military power and state authority and thus gives rise to National Socialism as an anti-humanist ideology that sets everything on fire. According to Ernst Alt's design, the divine menetekel was spoken about the three monotheistic religions. Through the blasphemous and blasphemous "swath of violence" that they have struck in human history, they are exposed as lying with regard to their unfortunate claim to truth and have thus survived.

New Testament window cycle

The window cycle of the New Testament and the history of the church so far contains four picture windows.

Chased unicorn - incarnation

Unicorn tapestry in the Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris

The picture window with the trapped unicorn as the central motif was designed by Ernst Alt in 1983. It corresponds to the opposite window motif "Abraham's Sacrifice - Morija". In traditional Christian iconography, the Old Testament scene of sacrifice and the crucifixion of Jesus, which is theologically interpreted as the sacrificial death for the sins of mankind, are often set in analogy to one another. In the unicorn picture, Ernst Alt addresses the incarnation with highly charged symbolism, but also the brutal execution death of Jesus Christ. The Christian motifs of the festive circles of Christmas and Easter are closely linked by the artist.

In mythology, the unicorn is a mythical creature in a mixture of horse or goat shape with a straight horn on the middle of the forehead . It has the body of a horse, but the pair of hooves and the bearded head resemble a goat. This idea became known in the Middle Ages especially through the Physiologus . The unicorn is considered the noblest of all mythical animals and is traditionally a symbol of the good. The best-known representation of a unicorn is the six-part tapestry cycle in the Musée national du Moyen Âge in Paris . These picture knitwear originated in the southern Netherlands in the 15th century . The sixth carpet bears the inscription Mon seul désir (My only desire) between the initials A and V.

According to medieval natural history books, the unicorn can only be appeased by a virgin, so the hunters lured it into a trap by a virgin. Symbolically, the unicorn stands for Christ, Mary is the one in whose lap the unicorn rests, which stands for the incarnation of God in the Virgin Mary. The hunt represents Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

The unicorn, trapped in a nest or in a wreath of red and green thorn shoots, is only old. The red-green coloring of the wreath arouses associations with classic Christmas decorations. The unicorn seems to be sleeping and has assumed an embryo-like posture, which refers to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Its legs are knotted through the poisonous green body of a snake, which, as a result of the paradise story ( Gen 3,1-24  EU ), is traditionally symbolically considered evil in the Christian area. The snake has opened its mouth, is baring its fangs and seems to be expelling dark poison. At the point of the knot, a red rose blooms, which is traditionally interpreted as a Marian symbol or reference to the sacrificial death of Jesus (the five petals correspond to the five wounds of Jesus on the cross) or generally as a symbol of love. The Christmas reference is established by the Christmas carol A rose has sprung , the text of which again refers to the Bible passage Isa 11,1a  [3] : “And a rice will emerge from the trunk of Jesse and a branch will bear fruit from its roots . "

Ernst Alt has positioned more blue flowers, bluebells and small lilies around the right hind leg of the unicorn. The tip of the unicorn's coiled horn dips into a turquoise blue color field in the lower right area of ​​the image. The artist is probably referring to the tradition that the horn is able to neutralize poison, in this case that of the snake that captures the unicorn. The dark blue, wavy structured image background can be understood in connection with Rev 12.15  EU as the pernicious stream of water of the apocalyptic devil snake.

Not only the coils of the snake tied the unicorn, but also a rope that goes around its neck connected the animal to a pale crescent moon in the upper right area of ​​the picture. The crescent moon also appears several times as a heraldic symbol in the unicorn tapestry cycle “The Maiden with the Unicorn”. Lunar symbolism is traditionally associated with the feminine; in Christianity it can be seen as a result of the apocalyptic image from the Revelation of John in connection with the Virgin and Mother of God Mary (see Rev 12: 1–18  EU ).

A broken rod has drilled itself into the unicorn's side, at the tip of which a fluttering fabric band is knotted, the frayed end of which is pinned with coarse thread stitches. The banderole bears the inscription "A MON SEUL DÉSIR" (German: "To my only desire"). Theologically, the cryptic saying can possibly be seen in connection with Mary's consent to the promise of the birth of Jesus by the Archangel Gabriel ( Lk 1.38  EU ). Jesus' consent to his death on the cross in the Mount of Olives scene could also be meant ( Mt 26.39  EU , Mk 14.36  EU , Lk 22.42  EU , see also Jn 12.27–28  EU ).

Continuing the thrust of the dark staff, the viewer sees the white horn of the unicorn. The change from dark to light color can be interpreted as a turn of evil towards good.

Pierced heart

Ernst Alt designed the window in 1992. In the lower right area is the inscription “IN FESTO DIVI BERNARDI XX.VIII.MCMXCII EA PERFECIT” (Completed by Ernst Alt on the feast day of the deified Bernhard , August 20, 1992) on St. Bernard of Clairvaux is related to the death of Ernst Alt's partner, Bernhard Lieblang. In addition, the great importance of Bernhard von Clairvaux for the crusade movement is indicated, to which the title saint of the Saarlouiser church, King Ludwig IX. of France, should participate in the 13th century. With his fiery sermons in the 12th century, Bernhard had sparked a storm of enthusiasm for the Crusades throughout Europe. Bernhard understood the knightly ideal of the Crusades, dying for the Lord, as a high Christian merit.

In front of a dark purple background, surrounded by an aureole-like, glowing red crown of thorns, an intense red heart pierced by a lance appears. Blood leaks at the point of entry of the lance into the heart muscle. The lance blade is also stained with blood. In addition to the crown of thorns, the pierced heart is girded by a red fabric loop, the ends of which are frayed around the lance blade. While the cross inscription INRI can be read in ruby ​​red Gothic minuscule in the upper left area of ​​the picture as the initials of the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (" Jesus of Nazareth , King of the Jews "), the three crucifixion nails of Jesus can be found in the lower right area of ​​the picture immediately next to the dedication inscription.

The poison green caterpillar , which crawls out of a green thorn branch in the lower left area of ​​the picture, is related to the depiction of a caterpillar cocoon in the window “Mourning Meadow - Exitus” and that of a hatched butterfly in the window “Easter Laugh - Amen”. The metamorphosis of the insect can be interpreted as a symbol of the Christian hope of resurrection.

The motif of the window relates to the execution of Jesus on the cross and the piercing of his heart by a Roman soldier's lance. In this context, the heart with the surrounding crown of thorns can also be interpreted iconographically as the Sacred Heart of Jesus , the symbol of the love of Jesus who gave himself up for sinful humanity. Bernhard von Clairvaux also shows a pronounced devotion to the Sacred Heart. The motif of the wounded heart also appears in the Grail story, to which Ernst Alt referred in his first introductory speech for the window cycle, when he compares the architectural design of the Böhm concrete building with the interior of the Grailberg. The lance that pierced Jesus' heart on Golgotha ​​has been associated with the so-called holy lance since the Middle Ages .

This lance is the oldest piece of the imperial regalia of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire . It supposedly contains a piece of a nail from the cross of Christ ( Holy Nail ). A ruler who owned this lance was considered invincible in the beliefs of the time. It was the visible sign that his power emanated from God and that he was Christ's representative.

King Louis IX of France (1214–1270), who led two crusades, brought not only the crown of thorns but also the tip of a lance to Paris , which is said to have belonged to the Roman centurion Longinus , who pierced Jesus' side. The front end of the lance tip from the Sainte-Chapelle was lost during the French Revolution .

Ernst Alt's window can also be interpreted as a criticism of religiously motivated violence, especially in connection with the crusades, which perverted the idea of ​​Christian charity in a perfidious manner.

Funeral Mass - Exitus

Ernst Alt completed the church window together with the "Homesick - Exile" window in 2004. Both windows correspond with one another in terms of their motif constellations, here Christian, there Jewish cult symbols. The Matutin on the Triduum Sacrum , which is held early in the morning on the cartages of Maundy Thursday , Good Friday and Holy Saturday , is usually referred to as Karmette or funeral mass. The title of the picture alone makes a reference to the passion and death of Jesus.

Alt has positioned traditional motifs of Christian iconography in front of a furrowed wave structure in bluish tones. A large fish skeleton refers to the usual early Christian fish motif . The fish symbol and the sequence ΙΧΘΥΣ (ICHTHYS) as an acrostic with the meaning of the word for fish in Greek ἰχθύς ( ichthýs ) contains a brief creed ( ησοῦς Χ ριστὸς Θ εοῦ Υ ἱὸς Σ ωτήρ):

  • ΗΣΟ˜ΥΣ - I ēsoũs (Jesus)
  • Χ ΡΙΣΤῸΣ - Ch ristòs "Christ" (the anointed)
  • Θ ΕΟ˜Υ - Th eoũ (God)
  • Υ ἹῸΣ - H y iòs (son)
  • Σ ΩΤΉΡ - S ōtér (Savior)

In Ernst Alt's painting, all that remains of the fish is a dead skeleton that is caught in violet thorns with the anchor-like bones of the caudal fin. The fish frame has an overall cross structure. The symbol of early Christianity appears to have been crucified in the branches of a thorn bush. A red branch of thorns grows out of the violet thorn bushes by attaching a butterfly cocoon. It is related to the hatched butterfly in the neighboring window “Easter Laugh - Amen”.

In addition, a priest's stole, torn at the ends and apparently dirty, has got caught in the red thorn branch . At both ends you can see the letters ΙΧΘΥΣ , arranged crosswise .

In the lower right area of ​​the picture, connected to the worn fabric of the stole, lies an overturned chalice on candleless gold altar candlesticks that are also overturned, crossed and without candles . The red mass wine or the blood of Christ has been spilled. Behind the calyx all the lines of the bluish background seem to be centered. The cuppa gold chalice is shattered and shows a deep crack. The outside of the chalice is adorned with a triple fleur-de-lys ornament, probably the most famous symbol of the French monarchy . According to the legend that emerged in the Middle Ages, the lily and the holy anointing oil were presented to the Merovingian king Clovis I at his baptism by an angel who had descended from heaven. A reference to the title saint of the church, King Ludwig IX. from France or a reference to the Holy Grail is conceivable. In Ernst Alt's first address to the Saarlouis parish, in which the artist had explained his conceptual image, he compared the architectural design of the Saarlouis Ludwigskirche with the interior of the Grailberg.

The devastated state in which the Christian cult objects and symbols of the picture are located can easily be related by the viewer to the disastrous state of the Church and Christianity, which Ernst Alt felt. The butterfly cocoon in the thorn branches as a symbol of the still dormant power of renewal, however, suggests that the artist has not given up all hope of positive change in view of this depressing development.

Easter laughter - amen

Only Old designed the window titled "Easter laughter - Amen" in 2005. The Easter laughter (Latin risus paschalis ) commonly referred to the custom service Participants in the sermon on Easter to laugh to bring. The intention of the Easter laugh was to express the joy of Easter. The liberating laugh was intended to symbolize the victory over death and the devil, who had "choked on" Christ and are thus exposed to ridicule. The stained glass by Ernst Alt uses an allegorically charged formal language to thematize the religious complex of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Vigil and takes up motifs from the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil liturgy . In this liturgical chant, Christ is praised as the light of the world and his resurrection is placed in a theologically constructed connection to the divine plan of salvation revealed in the Old Testament , when it says:

“This is the night that separates all who believe in Christ in all the earth, from the vices of the world, wrests from the misery of sin, brings them home into the kingdom of grace and inserts them into the holy Church. [...] Oh the truly salvific sin of Adam, you became a blessing to us because Christ's death destroyed you. Oh happy guilt , what a great savior you have found! […] This is the night of which it is written: “The night will be as bright as the day, the night will surround me like shining light.” The splendor of this holy night takes away the iniquity, cleanses from guilt, gives it to sinners Innocence, joy to those who mourn. It drives away hatred far, it unites hearts and bends violence. [...] Oh a truly blessed night that reconciles heaven and earth, that connects God and people! "

The window has a clear dichotomy in the choice of colors used: While the lower area is designed in cooler colors, the upper area mainly shows a red and gold color palette. Ernst Alt uses flowing lines and thus gives the picture additional dynamism. The lowest level of the picture is defined by a shattered skull, the jaws of which have opened like a laugh. The shape of the skullcap corresponds to a large egg that is positioned in the jaw area of ​​the skull. Fine, light yellow hairline cracks have formed at the tip of the egg, which traditionally stands for fertility and new life. The broken skull can be interpreted both as the formation of the death conquered by Christ's resurrection and iconographically as the skull of Adam. The church father Origen traces Jesus' place of execution Golgotha ​​back as the “place of the skull” to the skull of Adam allegedly buried there .

The apostle Paul parallels the first Adam, standing for all humanity, with the second Adam, Christ, standing for the new humanity. Just as humanity was at the mercy of death due to the sin of the first, it was saved from this death due to the redemptive act of the second ( Romans 5 : 12-17  EU ). The central point is emphasized again in the first letter to the Corinthians of Paul ( 1 Cor 15:22  EU ):

"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive."

Analogous to the motif of the conquered death, Ernst Alt shows a poison green snake above the skull, sliding down from a thorn bush from which a shoot with five pomegranate fruits sprouts. The body of the threatening animal has rolled up in a triple spiral and is bound by a thick, dark strand of wool. The spiral shape of the snake corresponds to the barbed wire spiral in the opposite window "Abraham's seeds - Menetekel". In connection with the Old Testament paradise tale of Adam and Eve , the snake can be interpreted as an allegory of seductive malice. Instead of a fruit from the tree of knowledge, the snake in Ernst Alt's picture carries a budding rose branch in its mouth, which in mariological iconography can be interpreted as the overcoming of Eve's guilt by the Virgin Mary, the mother of God ( Rosa mystica ). As a sign of a new covenant between God and man, a golden ring is attached to the rose branch, the gemstone of which shines in Marian blue. The ring, which is in a certain correspondence with the three rings in the picture "Abraham's seeds - Menetekel" can, however, also be interpreted as the precious ring from Lessing's ring parable, which has the property of making its wearer "pleasant to God and to men" to do if the owner carries it "with this confidence". The fivefold fruit can be seen as a symbol of the five wounds of Jesus on the cross.

In the neck area of ​​the snake, dark, violet-bluish tides divide, which can be interpreted in connection with the division of the sea during the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt on Passover night . A white shell in the lower right part of the picture possibly symbolizes the pilgrimage character of life. As in the Old Testament story of the Burning Bush , flames pop out of the red and black thorn bushes in the upper part of the picture. Likewise, the flames can be seen in connection with the Exodus Pillar of Fire. A butterfly spreads its white-blue wings as a further symbol of resurrection in front of a glowing gold flame center that develops into an unfolding blossom. The stamens of the flower, which resemble exploding fireworks, correspond in the diagonal axis with the delicate green sprouts of four flower bulbs in the lower left part of the picture, which refer to the reawakening of nature in spring.

Choir window

The four windows in the choir room deal with the Eucharist:

King of Pain - Ecce Homo

Ernst Alt completed the church window in 1983. Alt addresses the suffering of Jesus Christ in a disturbing drastic manner in the tradition of Christian depictions of the Man of Sorrows as a devotional image that depicts the suffering Jesus Christ with all the crucifixion wounds and the wound on the side, but alive and not on the cross. The usual representation of the motif in Christian art differs from the ecce homo motif, which depicts Christ after the flagellation with a crown of thorns, but without the stigmata of the crucifixion, as well as from the angel spietà , which depicts the body of Christ mourned by angels. This type of representation appeared in the high Middle Ages and, with the entry of Christian mysticism into popular piety, it also spread in the German-speaking area. Unlike earlier representations Christ is not as bright king and conqueror of sin and death in the foreground, but based on the Old Testament Servant Songs ( Isaiah 42.1-4  EU , Jes 49.1 to 6  EU , Jes 50,4- 9  EU , Isa 52,13  EU to Isa 53,12  EU ) as a suffering righteous person, to whom the viewer should develop a personal identification. Common attributes of the design of Jesus as a Man of Sorrows are mostly the passion tools of the cross, crown of thorns, passion column, nails, ropes, scourge, reed scepter, vinegar sponge with staff and lance and the red mocking coat.

In the portrayal of Ernst Alt, the posture of the head and facial expressions of the Man of Sorrows are reminiscent of the portrayal of Jesus, distorted by pain, in the crucifixion image of the Isenheim Altarpiece . Jesus' emaciated body, which bears the marks of the crucifixion, is painted in pale corpse pallor against a dark purple background. Blood runs from the wounds on the hands, from the side wound it flows in relation to Joh 19,34  EU and Joh 7,37 f. EU and Ez 47.1  EU water and blood. Jesus' overly long hands, which hold the red material of the mocking cloak and the green mocking scepter, are tied crosswise with a rope, which was also knotted around his neck with a noose. The three nails of the crucifixion are knotted into the rope. The representation is based on the biblical mockery and torture of Jesus in the Passion ( Mt 27.27–30  EU , Mk 15.16–19  EU , Lk 23.11  EU , Joh 19.2–3  EU ).

An oversized gold-red shimmering crown of thorns has been pressed onto Jesus' head. Above it rises a wave-like, vertically structured trunk, which can be interpreted as a cross trunk or a scourge column . A fabric banderole is attached to the trunk with the help of a string, on which a jagged Star of David can be seen. Behind Jesus' back, the staff with the vinegar sponge and the blood-drenched lance of the crucifixion cross in an X-shape, with red strips of fabric tied to the lance blade.

Easter leap of the lamb

Ernst Alt designed the window with the Lamb of God motif in 1982. The Lamb of God ( Latin Agnus Dei , or ancient Greek Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ [Amnòs tou Theou]) is a symbol for Jesus Christ that has been common since the origins of Christianity . As the Easter lamb with the victory flag, it is a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ . In ancient times, the lamb itself was traditionally understood as a sign of vital life and innocence. Its white fur also symbolizes inner purity and closeness to God. The basis of the biblical idea of ​​the Easter lamb was the practice of slaughtering sacrificial animals in the Old Testament , especially the slaughter of the Passover lambs, whose blood was painted on the doorposts on the night of the ( Exodus ) at God's command as a protective symbol against the deadly choking angel ( Ex 12  EU ). Following the exodus of Israel, which the Bible interpreted as God's saving act, the slaughter of a lamb became the central act of the Passover festival.

The fourth servant song in Isaiah ( Isa 53.1–10  EU ) also makes use of the lamb symbolism. There it says of the servant of God:

Who did our customer believe? The arm of the Lord - to whom was it revealed? Before his eyes he grew up like a young shoot, like a root shoot from dry ground. He was not beautiful and noble in shape so that we wanted to look at him. He didn't look like we liked him. He was despised and shunned by people, a man of pain, familiar with sickness. He was despised like one from whom one's face is hidden; we didn't appreciate him. But he bore our illness and brought our pain upon himself. We thought he had been struck by God, struck by him and bowed. But he was pierced because of our crimes, because of our sins. For our salvation the punishment was upon him; through his wounds we are healed. We were all lost like sheep, each going his own way. Yet the Lord blamed him on all of us. He was mistreated and depressed, but he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb brought to slaughter, and like a sheep in the face of its clippers, neither did he open his mouth. He was carried away by imprisonment and court, but who cared about his fate? He was cut off from the land of the living and shot to death for the crimes of his people. He was given his grave with the wicked, his resting place with the criminals, although he did no wrong and there was no deceitful word in his mouth. But the Lord took pleasure in his battered (servant) and saved him who gave his life as an atonement.

Especially in the New Testament Gospel according to John , the symbolism of the Lamb of God is of outstanding importance when John the Baptist interprets the person of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world ( Joh 1.29  EU , Joh 1.36  EU ). The Gospel of John positions the crucifixion of Jesus in its narrative at the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the Jerusalem temple. According to the report of the three synoptic gospels , Jesus' last supper took place on the night of the feast of Passover, which derives the close causal nexus between the Eucharist and the symbolism of the Lamb of God.

The connection between Jesus and the lamb symbolism is also used in the New Testament letters. In the first letter to the church in Corinth , Paul describes Jesus as the sacrificed Passover lamb ( 1 Cor 5,7  EU ). In the first letter of Peter it is emphasized that the blood of the lamb serves for the redemption of people ( 1 Petr 1.19  EU ).

In the Revelation of John the equation of the Lamb with Jesus Christ takes an even broader place ( Rev 5,6  EU , Rev 5,8f  EU , Rev 5,5  EU , Rev 19,9  EU ). At the end of the Johannine Apocalypse, the Lamb stands together with God on Mount Zion in the new Jerusalem ( Rev 14  EU ).

Only Alt in his depiction in the Saarlouis Ludwigskirche has the Easter lamb ready to jump. The artist has arranged the white fur of his body, which is surrounded by twitching tongues of flame from the sacrificial fire, into swirling ornaments. Thorny tendrils intertwine and seem to weave the lamb by the hind legs, but blossoming Christmas roses that are beginning to overgrow the thorns indicate that the lamb, unlike the ram in Abraham's sacrifice , can escape this danger by jumping. It has already raised its head and front legs. Nevertheless, the lamb is seriously injured: seven rivers of blood flow from its chest in thick drops. In contrast to the traditional Easter lamb symbolism, the lamb does not carry a victory flag, but a gnarled green staff, which in its crook, reminiscent of a shepherd's crook, produces vine leaves and a dark block of grapes. The symbolism refers to Joh 15,5  EU :

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever stays in me and in whom I stay brings rich fruit.

Furthermore, the green stick can also be seen in connection with the medieval Tannhauser legend: A knight, who spent seven years in the mountain of Mrs. Venus , makes a pilgrimage to Rome to ask the Pope for forgiveness for his sins. The Pope refuses this, however, because as little as the withered pilgrim's staff will green, so little can the knight receive forgiveness. The knight leaves sadly, but on the third day the staff begins to turn green through a divine miracle.

In the Saarlouis Easter Lamb Window, where the lamb's green staff and its drops of blood touch the ground, invigorating water wells up from the ground, referring to the apocalyptic vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, in which a voice interprets the victorious Lamb ( Rev 21 , 6  EU ):

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. If you are thirsty, I will let you drink for free from the spring from which the water of life flows.

The thorns, which are wetted by the source currents of the water, begin to green in Ernst Alt's depiction and produce a golden, spherical fruit.

Gifting pelican

Ernst Alt manufactured the Pelikan window in 1980. The artist himself presented it in a Sunday sermon on June 22, 1980, in which he stated, with a certain rejection of the Böhm concrete structure and with reference to the social secularization process of his time:

“That this house should not and must not be an ice cream parlor, that's why we now begin by laying out God's card, his heart card. We have thought about whether we should shoot this bird with the good news so high that it does not hurt us or should we leave it within reach for weeks, like the wounded Christ with his frightened chicks, his disciples. Should we put up with such an image and an image program that should come into this church, like wallpaper of trivialization, or should we, the energetic, light a fire again on the fire of his heart. (...) We stopped telling the good story. We deleted the pictures, built ourselves dead and renovated. (…) Not only did one get cold feet in our church, but the heart also caught a cold, and where the fruit of our love is supposed to sit, the benches yawn with emptiness. Were we pelican, you and me? Did you love until it hurt? "

As a symbol of Jesus Christ , pelicans are part of Christian iconography . According to the Physiologus , an early Christian animal compendium, the pelican opens its own breast with its beak, lets its blood drip onto its dead young and brings them back to life. This was allegorically placed in the context of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, making the pelican a common motif in Christian iconography .

The basis for this notion may be provided by the fact that the pelican cubs get their food deep from their parents' throat sac, which gives the impression that they are feeding on their breast meat. In addition, in the Dalmatian pelican, the throat pouch turns red during the breeding season and is reminiscent of a bloody wound.

In terms of structure, Ernst Alt designed his window with a circular shape consisting of a wreath of thorn branches. The wreath of thorns changes between the colors green, orange and blood red. Ernst Alt interprets thorns as the hardship of our lives. But even in this wasteland, Alt makes hope green. The wreath also forms the nest for four pelican cubs, who greedily stretch their beaks up towards their mother bird, who bends down to them caringly. Its swirling white plumage can be interpreted as a symbol of pure love that is given away. In its seemingly rotating movement, the bird is reminiscent of the shape of a flywheel rotating around its axis. The mother bird pricked its breast with a pointed beak. Thick drops of blood pour themselves into the boys' beaks like Pentecostal tongues.

Press treaders

Ernst Alt completed the window in 2012 a few months before his death and 32 years after he had made the first window for the Saarlouis Ludwigskirche. The depiction of the presser is inspired by the motif of Christ in the wine press , which appeared in Christian iconography in the 12th century . Christ is depicted at work in a wine press , whereby the outflowing grape juice is caught in a chalice as the blood of Christ . The wine press is interpreted as a symbol for the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. The usual representation takes place in allegorical recording of biblical statements such as the prophet Isaiah ( Isa 63,2-6  EU ):

But why is your robe so red, is your dress like that of a man who treads the wine press? I alone stepped the wine press; none of the peoples was there. Then I crushed her in anger, crushed her in my anger. Her blood spurted on my robes and stained my clothes. Because a day of vengeance was on my mind and the year of redemption had come. I looked around, but nobody wanted to help me; I was dismayed because no one stood by me. My own arm helped me, my anger was my support. I crushed the peoples in my anger, I crushed them in my anger and I let their blood run to the earth.

This Old Testament allusion was christologically linked with the eschatological reference to the New Testament Apocalypse ( Rev 19 : 13-15  EU ):

He was dressed in a robe soaked in blood; and his name is called "The Word of God". […] And he rules over them with an iron scepter, and he treads the press of wine, the avenging wrath of God, the ruler over all creation.

The blessing of Jacob over Judah plays a further element ( Gen 49.11  EU ):

He ties his horse to the vine and his donkey to the vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his clothes in grape blood.

Ernst Alt lets the wine treadmill fill almost the entire picture area with an expression bowed in grief. This is pressed down by branches of thorns and lets dark grapes fall out of a golden vessel that he carries on his left shoulder. Wine treads and grapes are designed in a similar bluish color, so that the impression is conveyed that wine and wine treads merge with one another in terms of identity. The right hand of the presser, holding a winemaker's knife, reaches towards his left hip. Vine leaves and a log of grapes appear in a triangle formed by the thigh and arm of the presser, on the left of the viewer: the depressing thorn shoot has greened and produced grapes.

The legs of the presser are shown in pedaling motion, the lower legs have turned wine-red, but the wine remains invisible. The treadmill wears a red loincloth that transforms into a flow of wine or blood. This stream pours over six amphorae standing on the ground , which, however, are not filled. The stream of blood or wine gives the impression of sliding past its edge. The self-sacrifice of the presser seems to be in vain and is not accepted.

Nave window

The two windows in the nave show the following themes:

Phoenix flaring up

The phoenix ( ancient Greek Φοίνιξ , Phoínix , from ancient Egyptian Benu : " The born again / the newborn son "; Latin Phoenix ) is a mythical bird that burns or dies at the end of its long life cycle to be reborn from its rotting body or from its ashes to buy. In Christian iconography it became a symbol of the resurrection and eternal life. Already in Egyptian mythology , the ancient Egyptian god of the dead Benu was usually depicted in the form of a heron who appears every few hundred years, goes up in flames at sunrise in the glow of the dawn and rises rejuvenated from its ashes. During the Hellenistic period, the idea spread that the phoenix emerged from the ashes of Osiris or his decaying remains and reached an old age of many, mostly five centuries. At the end of his life he will build a nest of myrrh with his beak , sit in it and burn with it. After the flames have gone out, an egg remains, from which a new phoenix will hatch after a short time. Another narrative variant of the myth reports that the red and gold bird flies to Heliopolis every 500 years on the anniversary of his father's death , where he forms an egg from incense to cover his father's corpse. The bird would then carry this egg into the temple of Heliopolis, where it would be solemnly buried.

Ernst Alt created the Phoenix Window in 1985. The red and gold plumage of the bird stands out against a midnight blue background. In the lower part of the picture, a nest of flames made of golden myrrh grains has caught the animal's tail, while the feathers in the neck area begin to curl up as a result of the heat, creating a richly shaped ornamentation. In this feather ornament, pea pods burst open and reveal their seed balls. There is also a fruit cluster that could be interpreted as a stone pine nut or an artichoke . The opening fruits can be understood as a symbol of the resurrection. Dying, the bird opens its long beak, while its upraised wings seem to encompass a shiny spherical structure. The structure evokes associations with a sun ball, a bird's egg , a light nimbus or an egg cell that begins to divide when the bird's beak pierces it .

The nightingale and the rose

Only Old made the window in 1981. The artist focuses on this one published in 1888 Kunstmärchen of Oscar Wilde entitled " The Nightingale and the Rose " ( The Nightingale and the Rose ).

In the story, a young student wants to go dancing with the daughter of a professor. However, this makes it a condition that she only consent if the student brings her red roses . Since the student does not have a red rose in his garden, he is unhappy because he believes that he is being deprived of the chance of his life. A nightingale sees a true lover in the crying student, feels sorry for him and goes in search of a red rose. She asks a rose bush to give her one of its roses against her sweetest song. However, this can only offer her white roses. So the nightingale flies to another rose bush with the same request. This one carries red roses, but the frost has let all the buds die. Then the second bouquet of roses reveals to the desperate nightingale that, with the help of her heart's blood and her death song, it could produce a blood-red bloom. Since the nightingale values ​​the young man's love for the young girl more than her own life, she is ready for self-sacrifice. Your tweeted request to the student to remain true to his love and to see in it the highest good, he does not understand.

At night, the nightingale, singing love songs, presses a thorn of the budless rose bush so deep into its breast that it finally pierces its heart. Even the cold crystal moon listens to their death song, while the rose bush produces a beautiful blood-red bloom. Completely bled, the nightingale, the thorn in its heart, falls into the tall grass. When the student saw the deep red rose the next lunchtime, he broke it off and immediately took it to the professor's daughter. The latter, however, disgusted him, because the color of the rose did not match her dress and the chamberlain's nephew had sent her valuable jewels that adorned her much better than a simple flower. The student angrily throws the rose into the gutter, whereupon a wagon wheel crushes the flower. Disappointed by what he believes is “foolish” and “impractical” love, the young man now turns to the study of logic, philosophy and metaphysics.

In his glass window, Ernst Alt shows the death song of the golden-yellow feathered nightingale surrendering to the blue night sky and the pale light of the thorn-pointed crescent moon. Her heart's blood, which emerges in thick cascades of drops, causes a large rose to blossom and color it blood red. As it dies, its beak takes on the shape of thorns, the deadly web of which encircles its delicate body. In contrast, in the lower part of the picture, lush rose leaf green oozes from the withering shrub. The pale crescent moon as a symbol of fickle unreliability loops almost a halo around the martyrdom of the dying nightingale.

Tower chapel window

The tower chapel windows in the central entrance, which were created between 1984 and 1994, show Christian figure constellations, which thematize the divine protection in situations of threat:

Christophorus Window

Christophorus ( Greek Χριστόφορος "Christ bearer", from pherein , "to carry") is considered an early Christian martyr who lived perhaps in the 3rd or early 4th century. Christophorus is usually represented in Christian iconography as a giant with a staff who carries the baby Jesus on his shoulders across a river. He is one of the fourteen helpers in need .

According to legendary sources, he was a giant named Offerus who only wanted to serve the most powerful ruler. But the giant found no one whose power was not limited in some way. After a long and in vain search, a Christian hermit advised him that only God's power was unlimited, and that Offerus should serve only this. From then on, as an exercise of humility, he was to carry travelers across a river at a deep ford . One day, according to legend, Offerus picked up a small child to carry it across the river. The deeper Offerus went into the water, the heavier the burden seemed to be. In the middle of the river the child revealed to him that he was carrying Christ and with it the whole world. When he reached the other bank, the child gave him the new name Christophorus (Greek: Christ Bearer).

Ernst Alt designed the Christophorus Window in 1987. The naked figures of Christophorus and the baby Jesus are in the middle of the swirling floods of the raging river. The swirling waves form the head of a Leviathan in the lower area of ​​the picture , who wants to devour a school of fish in its wide-open mouth, as a symbol of malicious evil. Christophorus leans with both hands on a scaly, deep red palm trunk that rises above the head of the water monster. The monster's eye has already turned its threatening gaze on Christophorus and the baby Jesus. Due to the superhuman exertion, the bald-headed giant has closed his eyes. The baby Jesus clasps the neck of Christophorus with his feet and holds himself with his hands in the palm fronds of the tree trunk that supports the giant. The head of the almost mischievously smiling child Jesus is shimmered with nimbus. The child effortlessly bends down the fruit-bearing palm fronds of the massive tree trunk, following the Gothic shape of the window, so that a white dove that soars can fill itself with red palm fruits. The fingers of the child's right hand are spread apart as if to sign a victory . Any upward movement of the shapes is directed downward in the child's hands.

As in the Raphael window, the trunk rising up between the loins of the giant can be interpreted in connection with the all-devouring monster as a symbol of impetuous and destructive sexuality, which is transformed through caring love and filial tenderness.

Raphael window

The window, which was created in 1991/1992, takes up the main theme of the Book of Tobit , a deuterocanonical or apocryphal book of the Old Testament , which was probably written around 200 BC in Aramaic in Palestine or the Egyptian diaspora . The narrative takes the form of an educational novella . The book was not included in the Jewish canon , but it is part of the Septuagint and is considered part of the Old Testament canon of scriptures by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches .

Central figures in the glass painting by Ernst Alt are the Archangel Raphael ( Hebrew רפאל rafa'el ; "God heals") and the young Tobias (Hebrew: "The Lord is good"). In the book Tobit, Raphael is the angel who hears the prayer of the young Tobias, accompanies him in human form on his journey from Nineveh to Rages , arranges Sara as a wife for him in Ekbatana , conquers the evil demon Ashmodai and Tobias a cure for his father's blindness procured. When the healed Tobit and Tobias want to reward the unrecognized archangel for his help, he reveals his true identity to them and returns to God.

The largely bluish tones of the neo-Gothic pointed arched window shows the Archangel Raphael turning to the childish-youthful Tobias in a brotherly protective gesture, who turns his gaze trustingly up to him. The head of Raphael is adorned with a wreath of olive branches that bear fully ripe fruit. Raphael holds up a censer in his right hand, the smoke of which takes on seven rose-like shapes as symbols of the seven archangels of God. At the highest point of the window you can see the eye of God in the smoke as a symbol of the divine help that Tobias was given. Ornaments, which symbolize water floods, surround the two naked figures in the lower area and represent the threat to the life of Tobias, which can only be saved with the protective help of the archangel.

Both figures carry a large fish whose wide-open mouth has pointed teeth. The fish had wanted to devour Tobias while bathing in the Tigris, but with the help of the archangel it was caught. His innards are now supposed to help as a remedy against the blindness of the old and sick Tobit and the demon obsession of Tobias later wife Sara. The phallus-like shape of the fish can also be interpreted as the awakening, unbridled sexuality of Tobias, which is tamed by love.

Tobias' little dog runs at their feet. The right front barrel is caught in a cord that forms a labyrinth, the symbol of the winding path of life.

Ernst Alt inserted an old Latin supplication between the feet of the Archangel and little Tobias:


(German translation: "Healing Raphael be with me forever, just like you were with Tobias, always stays with me on the way.")

Ernst Alt dedicated the glass painting to his late partner Bernhard Lieblang (born July 22, 1940) (subtitle "In Memoriam BL 17. II. 1991"), who died on February 17, 1991. Both had met in 1957.

Jonah window

Ernst Alt designed the Jonah window in 1992. Jonah is the central figure of a font from four chapters in the Book of the Twelve Prophets of the Tanach. This biblical narrative reports that God instructs Jonah to go to Nineveh and threaten the rejected city and its wicked inhabitants with a judgment of God if they refused to repentant. However, the fearful Jonah tries to evade God's threatening commission by fleeing in the opposite direction by ship. Thereupon God kindles a huge storm that puts the ship in distress. The lot unmasked Jonah as the person responsible. Jonah admits his guilt and recommends throwing him into the sea, which the ship's crew finally does. The storm stops immediately and the sailors are converted to YHWH . Thrown into the water, Jonah is swallowed by a large fish. In his belly he pleads with God and after three days and three nights he is spat again on land. Jonah now obeys the divine commission and actually goes to Nineveh to announce there that only forty days remain until the city is destroyed by God. This notice of punishment triggers a humble movement of penance among the Ninevites, which leads to God remitting the announced punishment. This merciful pardon causes Jonah to be so angry that he wants to die under a castor tree . God lets the castor tree perish, whereupon Jonah laments its fate. The story ends with God's saying that exposes Jonah's egoism:

“You are tired of the castor tree that you didn't work for and that you didn't raise. It was there overnight, it died overnight. But I shouldn't be sorry for Nineveh, the big city in which more than one hundred and twenty thousand people live, who cannot even distinguish between right and left - and also so many cattle? “(Jonah 4, 10-11 f.).

Ernst Alts condensed the Jonah story in his glass painting by showing the naked, bluish body of the prophet Jonah being spat out of the mouth of the giant fish, with a spray fountain rising over an opening pearl shell in the right area of ​​the picture. The pearl shell can be interpreted as a resurrection symbol, as a symbol of the kingdom of God or as a sign of the (regained) inner purity of Jonah. Furthermore, the conch shell can be understood as an indication of the Christian pilgrimage. The dark tail fins of the fish frame the upper body of the bald prophet in the left area of ​​the picture, who is reaching up to the light. From the blowholes of the marine animal, white oil shoots in a high arc like a fountain. The water fountain of the sea creature could possibly be interpreted as an association with fertilization fluid , as a possible sign of saved life, regained vitality and the “ Logos spermatikos”. In the arched field of the fountain, a bluish light field opens up, similar to the proverbial “light at the end of a tunnel”. A mental connection to near death experience is possible. Jonah has thrown up his arms and happily reaches with his hands into the green branches of the castor tree. A gray, spiraling eddy structure could indicate the imminent death of the castor tree. Jonas Rechts is surrounded by purple surfaces that can be interpreted as blossoms or baths. At the highest point of the perennial there is a basket-like, coarse-meshed nest, in which a lying bird's egg can be recognized. It can symbolize fertility as well as resurrection and a new beginning.

Good Shepherd Window

The Good Shepherd window was designed by Ernst Alt in 1994. The image word of the Good Shepherd (ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός Greek. Ho ho kalos poimen , Lat. Pastor bonus ) is in Christianity one of the oldest and most common names for Jesus Christ . However, the motif already existed before the New Testament was written. In the Old Testament the image of the shepherd is common: Abel ( Gen 4.2  EU ), Abraham ( Gen 13.2  EU ), Isaac ( Gen 27.9  EU ) and Jacob ( Gen 30.31  EU ) were shepherds. Moses was seen as the shepherd of his people ( Isa 63.11  EU ; Num 27.17  EU ). The political, religious, judicial and military leaders of the Jewish people are referred to in the Tanakh as good or bad shepherds ( Jer 23 : 1-4  EU ; Eze 34  EU ). In the history of the Jewish people, David is politically the most important shepherd figure ( 1 Sam 16.19  EU ; 17.15.28 EU ; 2 Sam 7.8  EU , Ps 78.70-72  EU ). However, as a suffering servant of God, the messianic shepherd meets with unjustified rejection and he is killed, whereupon his sheep scatter ( Zech 13.7  EU ). The pastoral motif is often directly related to God's care ( Gen 48.15  EU ; Psalm 23 ; Psalm 80 ; Psalm 95 ; Isa 40.11  EU ; Jer 31.10  EU ).

In one of the great parable speeches of the Gospel of John (10.1-18 EU ), the Gospel author Jesus called himself a good shepherd who knows the sheep, calls them by name, is recognized by the sheep themselves and finally his own life for his own Sheep. The shepherd motif also appears indirectly in the parable of the lost and rescued sheep ( Mt 18.12–14  EU par. Lk 15.1–7  [4] ): The search is not for the 99 other sheep, but for the one lost, the sinner of the shepherd. The motif of the “ Lamb of God ” is directly related to the image of the Good Shepherd . Here Jesus Christ appears as a flawless lamb who is sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins ( Mt 26.31–32  EU par. Mk 14.27–28  EU ).

In his glass window, Ernst Alt depicts the good shepherd in a hunched position, leaning on a strong staff. On his search he found the lost sheep and caringly carries the weakened animal home on his shoulders, while he has to wade through swirling floods of water that shoot up to his waist and create a labyrinth-like vortex in the lower left area of ​​the picture, symbolizing possible aberration. In addition, his right foot threatens to get caught in intertwining plant tendrils. Between the thighs of the good shepherd, a friendly-looking dolphin stretches out of the water as a symbol of selfless willingness to help.

The gnarled, brittle shepherd's crook forms vine tendrils with grapes and ears of corn, which symbolize the devotion of Jesus in the death on the cross and his real presence in the Eucharist . A white dove hovers in the pointed arch of the window . The olive leaf in her beak and the rainbow reveal the motif as a symbol of God's covenant with the people after the flood ( Gen 8: 11-13  EU ).


  • Severin Delges: History of the Catholic parish St. Ludwig in Saarlouis . Saarlouis-Lisdorf 1931, extension by Heinrich Unkel in 1952, extension by a third part by Marga Blasius in 1985.
  • Oranna Elisabeth Dimmig: Saarlouis Stadt und Stern / Sarrelouis - Ville et Étoile , translation into French: Anne-Marie Werner, ed. v. Roland Henz and Jo Enzweiler Saarbrücken 2011.
  • Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color. The window cycle by Ernst Alt in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis. Dillingen / Merzig 2015.

Individual evidence

  1. Alfons Thome: "The whole creation cries for redemption", thoughts on the church windows by Ernst Alt in Saarlouis-St. Ludwig . In: Paulinus , Volume 111, March 17, 1985; Severin Delges: History of the Catholic parish St. Ludwig in Saarlouis . Saarlouis-Lisdorf 1931, extension by Heinrich Unkel in 1952, extension by a third part by Marga Blasius in 1985, part 3, p. 27; Josef Mischo: “See, I am with you every day”, the parish church of St. Ludwig - Saarlouis and its stained glass windows by Ernst Alt, thoughts on a work of art of our time . Saarlouis-Lisdorf 1993; Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color, Ernst Alt's window cycle in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis , Dillingen / Merzig 2015; Martin König: Incarnations: Plants, Animals and Humans, The two window cycles in Neunkirchen / Nahe and in Saarlouis . In: Thomas Schwarz, Armin Schmitt (ed.): Mnemosyne, the painter and sculptor Ernst Alt . Blieskastel 2002, pp. 59–71, here pp. 65–71.
  2. Image view : accessed on April 21, 2016.
  3. ^ Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color, The window cycle by Ernst Alt in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis . Dillingen / Merzig 2015, 14–15 and pp. 143–148.
  4. Martin König: Incarnations: Plants, Animal and Human, The two window cycles in Neunkirchen / Nahe and in Saarlouis , in: Thomas Schwarz, Armin Schmitt (ed.): Mnemosyne. The painter and sculptor Ernst Alt , Blieskastel 2002, pp. 59–71, here pp. 65–71, p. 65.
  5. Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color. Ernst Alt's window cycle in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis , Dillingen / Merzig 2015, 17-18.
  6. Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color. Ernst Alt's window cycle in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis , Dillingen / Merzig 2015, 17–24.
  7. Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color. Ernst Alt's window cycle in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis , Dillingen / Merzig 2015, 23–24.
  8. Song of Songs 4: 3.13; 6, 7.11; 7, 13-14; 8, 2
  9. Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color. Ernst Alt's window cycle in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis , Dillingen / Merzig 2015, 18–22.
  10. Josef Mischo: The history of salvation in color. Ernst Alt's window cycle in the parish church of St. Ludwig Saarlouis , Dillingen / Merzig 2015, pp. 94–96.
  11. accessed on September 9, 2015.

Coordinates: 49 ° 18 ′ 57.8 "  N , 6 ° 45 ′ 5.4"  E