A Sacramental Artifact

Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg 11-08-2011
Photo courtesy of Ken Steinhoff

Today is Maundy Thursday, a  day to remember the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  We thought it would be a good day to highlight a very precious artifact which was part of the 1838-1839 immigration.  That artifact would be the Communion Chalice that is property of Trinity Lutheran Church here in Altenburg.  Following are some excerpts from a description of the chalice’s history as described by Rev. Adolph Vogel, a former pastor of Trinity.

“Not all true Lutherans came to America from Germany in 1839.  There were many others who were in complete sympathy with the emigrants, but for one reason or other could not leave their homeland at that time.  One of these was a Polish contess.  Her age would not permit her to emigrate anymore.  However, as her contribution to the good cause she donated to the emigrants two valuable chalices.  One of them remained in St. Louis with Old Trinity…..  The other one is in possession of Trinity Church here in Altenburg.  It is of so-called hammered work which has become a long-lost art, but which makes the chalice all the more valuable.  It has a bowl of filigree (perforated) work hammered out of solid silver showing three of the four Evangelists.  The cup itself set into this bowl is of almost pure gold.  Below this there are shown three angels.  The chalice has a wide base.  Underneath is an inscription in Polish, which seems to indicate that it was originally used at a soldier’s wedding, and it bears the date of ……. 1707.”

The chalice was used at Trinity until 1967 when it was retired because it was showing signs of wear.  A new chalice was commissioned at that time and was dedicated on Reformation Day of 1967 when Trinity was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its present church sanctuary.

Many will gather this evening at churches throughout the world to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  We at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum would hope that all of you are blessed as we proceed through the special days of Holy Week.


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