Sunday, 20 April 2014

The 1623 Hungertuch of St Clemens, Telgte, Westphalia

Telgte is just a few miles to the east of Munster in Germany and in the Church of St Clemens at this time of year, the fasting month of Lent, since about 1623 was displayed a Hungertuch - literally Hunger Cloth. The cloth measures 7.4 metres by 4.4 metres and is composed of 66 linen panels, half of them being open work panels depicting scenes from Christ's passion.

Arranged like a chequer board, each image panel alternates with a simple linen panel. The technique is stitching across a square on a grid of twisted linen threads running horizontally and vertically and was carried out by noble ladies of the knightly families of Vos, Droste, Hausen, Bischopping and Münster.

The first four lines depict the suffering of Christ, the fifth row shows the symbols of the evangelists and the Lamb of God as a symbol for Christ, the sixth row displays motifs from the old testament.

The Wiedenbrück Pastor, Bitterus Willge, who is represented in the bottom row of the image with his initials, was probably the initiator. This cloth replaced an earlier cloth which had been a victim of the wars. The cloth was hung every year until 1905 and now it can be seen next door in the Westfälisches Museum für Religiöse Kultur.
To give you some idea of how this was displayed in church, we can see, below, the similarly famous Hungertuch of Freckenhorst.

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