Visiting Burg-Reuland, Belgium and its bulbous-domed Sankt-Stephanus-Kirche: & memories of scholar Anna von Palant
Gracious architecture and recollections of poetic distinction
The Sankt-Stephanus-Kirche (1) is sitauted in Burg-Reuland, in eastern Belgium's German-speaking Community (German: Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft)(2).
A signifcant feature of the church building, and one which acutely marks the skyline of Burg-Reuland, is the bulbous roof of the tower, which gives the observer (code for myself) a vague impression of being in the heart of central Europe.
The building dates from the 18th century; however, a previous church building dated from the 13th century.
Executed in stone, the entranceway also has some particularly ornate rounded stoneworking, in contrast to the squarish masonry of the main building into which the entranceway is set.
Also at the Sankt-Stephanus-Kirche are inscriptions recalling the von Palants, who indeed commissioned the 18th century building: a noble family numbered among whom had been a distingushed scholar of the Renaissance: Anna von Palant (3) (c.1550-1599). This noted poet was the author of Latin verse and achieved a deep knowledge of Classical and other writers. Anna von Palant is reckoned to have been born in what is now Burg-Reuland (4) in 1550. She lived in Elberfeld, Neuss and Cologne.
Anna von Palant was a niece of philologist Karl von Utenhove (1536-1600), with whom, among other scholars, Anna maintained prolific correspondence (5). Like many erudite women of the Renaissance — especially in Italy — she was in fact in ongoing contact with many of the leading writers and scholars of her day. It is thus somewhat surprising that in subsequent years, until the 19th and 20th centuries, the cause of women's higher education did not make as much progress as it could have done, given the example and achievements of women such as Anna von Palant, and many other women of the Renaissance era.
October 1, 2013
(1) Interestingly, a more well-known church building names for St. Stephen in the German-speaking part of Europe, namely, in Vienna (German: Wien), Austria (German: ) is known as the Stephansdom (i.e., Cathedral). The reason why this particular church building in Burg-Reuland uses the Latin form 'Stephanus' and the Viennese building the German form 'Stephan' respectively would simply be a matter of differing local customs.
(2) Sometimes known as the Ostkantone, in Liège (German: Lüttich) province.
(3) The name also occurs as 'von Pallandt'. Anna is also known in Latin as Anna Pallantia; a fuller, German form of her name is also current: Anna von Palant zu Breitabend und Reuland is also sometimes seen.
(4) The locality was formerly known as Reuland, prior to the creation of the current municipality in 1977.
(5) Anna von Palant features in: Jane Stevenson, Women Latin Poets, Oxford University Press, 2005
Also worth seeing
In Burg-Reuland itself, its Medieval Castle is an imposing ruin.
Ouren (distance: 10 kilometres), within Burg-Reuland municipality, is a picturesquely situated hamlet on the Our river, where the borders of Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg meet.
How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available. The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg), at Findel. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair (from London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport) and CityJet (from London City Airport). Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notive. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.