Atmospheric light in Altenberg Cathedral © Ina Rottscheidt (DR)
This year the sending forth of the Altenberg Light cannot take place as usual. But the alternative was quickly found: Young people can participate in the celebration via livestream. With it: a very special care package.
Interviewer: Perhaps it is necessary to clarify again briefly how the Altenberg Light came into being. After all, the action dates back to the end of the Second World War…
Father Tobias Schwaderlapp (Diocesan Youth Chaplain in the Archdiocese of Cologne): Exactly. In 1950, there was the Altenberg Light for the first time. It is particularly painful for us that it cannot take place this year. We were going to celebrate 70th anniversary and we had planned it big too.
In 1950, the Catholic youth from Altenberg wanted to set a sign for reconciliation in Europe. They lit a light on the Easter candle under the Madonna in the Altenberg Cathedral, which was already considered the "Cathedral of Catholic Youth" at that time, and carried it to the borders of Germany and to other European countries.
In a light relay they carried it to the border to France and Poland and handed it over to the Polish and French youth. To say: Through whom, if not through us, the youth, shall reconciliation in Europe grow again? That was a strong sign and remains a strong sign. Because we know: Peace has still not come – neither in Europe nor in the world.
Interviewer: A beautiful sign, which also depends on a lot of closeness.
Schwaderlapp: Yes, that is usually the case. We usually associate the Altenberg Light with a large tent area in Altenberg. The people lie in the tents and sit tightly packed in the Altenberg Cathedral. At 2.000 people in the Altenberg Cathedral means that you are practically not only sitting next to each other, but also partly on top of each other. And that is of course virologically not possible this year.
Interviewer: You can’t keep a distance of 1.5 meters from them. But the celebration is not canceled. There is an alternative. What does it look like?
SchwaderlappYes, we thought about it together with the initiative group of the Altenberg Light – the young people who plan and carry out the Altenberg Light year after year: Especially when times are difficult, we can not say: "Oh no, then the peace falls out". That would be antti sign. But just now it is important that we set a sign for peace and then it should just take place differently. I’m very proud that this worked out, and I’m looking forward to how we’re going to do it tonight.
Interviewer: There are care packages for tonight. What is it about that?
Schwaderlapp: Exactly. We still invited people to sign in. At first, we had quickly taken the registration form off the homepage after short-term reactions. But one day later we put it on again. And all of you who have registered have received a small care package. There is a small letter, the booklet for the two liturgies – the vigil this evening and the celebration tomorrow morning – and a little candle wax, so that you can create your own Altenberg Light candle at home. Because this year the light will not only be lit in Altenberg, but also at home in front of the screen and the TV.
Interviewer: That means you can celebrate live from home?
SchwaderlappYou are very, very cordially invited to join in the celebration. I’m really happy: We got 900 registrations for the live stream! You just have to let that melt on your tongue. This shows how important it really is for many young people in our archdiocese and beyond. You can join the celebration at 10 p.m. via radio or the this site website.DE.
I think we will have a very nice celebration. We had a dress rehearsal last night and I think one will be captivated. I am very, very confident and would like to invite you to join us.
Interviewer: How can you imagine it practically – you sit with a candle in front of the screen?
Schwaderlapp: Exactly,sit in front of the screen with a candle and just enjoy. We were thinking: How do we make it so that we really celebrate the service together, even in the digital space? It’s not meant to be that we film the service and then you can watch how others celebrate, but we pray together. That is our concern tonight.
We have also invited and asked for intercessions to be sent to us, which will be included in the vigil this evening. We also launched a digital choir project and invited people to sing three songs via an app.
Interviewer: What songs are these?
SchwaderlappThis is "In the middle of the night" – it will be on tonight. And tomorrow morning, the "Altenberg pilgrimage song", because it should not be missing from any Altenberg Light, as well as "May the road bring us together", the Irish blessing, because it is traditionally sung at the end of the Altenberg Light. These three songs were sent in.
Interviewer: Also "May the road" is a song of hope…
SchwaderlappAbsolutely. All we want to radiate at the Altenberg Light is hope and peace.