I was talking with a friend recently about creativity coming from destruction, and Coventry Cathedral popped into my head. So I googled it (because what else would you do?), found the Coventry Cathedral website, and was immediately deeply moved. Just last weekend they dedicated a new sculpture in the cathedral ruins in celebration of the Golden Jubilee, or 50th anniversary, of the “new” church. (Stay with me — I’ll give you some images and history in a sec.) The sculpture, Choir of Survivors, was made by a German soldier and is “dedicated to civilians killed or injured in aerial bombing during wars past and present,” particularly German civilians.(1) They talk a lot at Coventry about their Peace and Reconciliation Ministry, and it seems to me that they’re really living it.
So. Some history. Coventry Cathedral was built in the 16th century (according to the Coventry website, or the 14th-15th centuries according to Wikipedia) as a parish church dedicated to St. Michael, on the site of an earlier church, but not consecrated as a cathedral until 1918. During World War II, on November 15, 1940, the town of Coventry was bombed because it was a major munitions center and produced 25% of all aircraft British aircraft during the war. (Coventry was bombed so badly that Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of Propaganda) used the word “Coventrated” when discussing similar destruction.) The church was bombed and burned during Operation Moonlight Sonata,(2) and the next day they decided to rebuild. Rather than razing the ruins of the old church, though, they built a new, very modern building next to it. The new portion was consecrated in 1962, and together they form “one living cathedral.”(3) Continue reading