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Water: mother of many names.

In Zurich, across the Limmat river and the street that runs along it, behind a low arcade of shops, up a flight of stone steps, stands the Grossmunster, an enormous Romanesque church with round-topped Gothic spires. Beneath it stretches a cobblestone square named for Ulrich Zwingli, the pastor who trashed the place in 1524. With the blessing of city council, Zwingli and two other priests supervised workers and tradesmen who removed sacred objects that were suddenly considered idols: paintings, altar decorations, votive lamps, carved choir stalls, and the organ. They also oversaw the scraping of frescoes from the great church's interior walls.

At the top of those steps, on the edge of that square, I paused, having just made my way up from the train station. Before that, I had walked through the sleek, silent, cement-walled air terminal at Zurich, and before that I had endured an overnight flight in economy class that originated in the loud, chaotic airport at Philadelphia, a flight for which I had not dressed warmly enough, and during which I'd slept little. I blinked in the July morning light. A few tourists milled around the entrance of the church, posing in front of its great bronze doors, snapping pictures. Nothing stirred the silence but a few tourists and some pigeons. Could this really be it?

For two years I had wondered whether the sight inside this mother church of the Swiss Reformation would strike me as powerfully as it had the first time I saw it. Often I had returned to this place in my mind, describing my first visit to friends like a rehearsal for this return. Here, something surprised me to tears. After a long, difficult marriage--you make your bed, you lie in it!--after a final separation in 2005, after two moves in two years, in the dead center of my life, I had arrived at this place, more weary than I realized, a mother with a small child on another continent, and wept.

A raw nerve is one way to enter history.

I have searched for words to describe what I felt then. I have read histories of this place to help me make sense of the moment when I first encountered the effaced Madonna and Child in a niche built to hold holy water during Catholic times. Unable to explain those feelings to myself, I have instead formed a question: How do people resist spiritual ruin in a world of so many ruined things? Compelled to return to this place, I have wondered about the moral consequences of memory.

I claim feeling as both motivation and method in this quest: feelings, not emotions. Consider emotions to be the raw, biological functions of the human nervous system, such as terror or sexual attraction that race through the body, and that neurobiologists now track with scientific instruments. Feelings involve emotions but are more complicated because they also draw on memory, experience, and cognition. Feelings produce highly personal forms of intelligence that involve self-consciousness and thought in addition to the bodily instincts of the organism. Maybe scientists are just now finding ways to describe what Shakespeare wrote in King Lear more than 400 years ago: Gloucester, physically blind, nonetheless sees people and circumstances more clearly than the King. When Lear asks the source of his insight, Gloucester replies, "I see feelingly."

All I could see that July morning in 2009, as my eyes burned in the sunlight, was the most immediate way to enter history: through the ruins that remain.

Construction of the Grossmunster began around 1,100 on this spot. Near this site in 286, according to legend, Felix and his sister Regula were beheaded for refusing to offer sacrifice to Roman Emperor Maximian. As Christians, they could honor none but the one true God. It is said that the martyrs picked up their heads and walked a short distance from the river's edge to a spot where they stopped to pray; then, they stretched out there for burial. According to the story, quite a few others carried their heads up from the river also, but only Felix and Regula are remembered as patron saints of Zurich.

In the eighth century, Charlemagne's horse stumbled or bowed on their graves, and so the Christian emperor interrupted his hunt to decree that a shrine to the martyrs be built there. A large stone in the crypt of the Water Church at the river's edge, downhill from the Grossmunster, is said to be exactly where the executions took place. A 1576 plan of Zurich shows the Grossmunster, Water Church, and on the opposite side of the river, the Fraumunster Abbey, where relics of the saints were once displayed for pilgrims who visited the sanctuaries.

With Zwingli's dissolution of the monasteries in 1524, those pilgrimages stopped. The church's possessions were confiscated, and the graves of Felix and Regula exhumed. Then, one of two things may have happened: either the graves were mostly empty except for a few bone fragments, which were piously buried in a common grave beside the Grossmunster, as Heinrich Bullinger reported in the Reformation Chronicle. Or a Catholic exile from Uri, hearing that the reformers intended to throw the saints' bones into the river, rescued them and took them to the Alpine village of Andermatt, where two skulls remain to this day. Carbon 14 dating shows that the jaw of one dates from Roman times.

"With the jawbone of an ass, heaps on heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men," says Samson in Judges 15:16. Perhaps memory is a jawbone. The feast day for Felix and Regula is September 11. Who among us does not remember some kind of martyr? And so, I made my way back to the wrecked Madonna, curious to see whether she would move me as she had two years before.

Curiously, I was not as eager to return to the spot just across the river that I had also visited on that first trip to Zurich. There, in the area known as the Schipfe, I huddled with about 40 North American tourists with European Mennonite family names and memories, younger than many of them by at least two decades, and sang in the precise four-part a cappella of my people all four verses of "Faith of the Martyrs," which in the old hymnal was called "Faith of our Fathers."

Nearby, elegant Zurichers calmly sipped their morning coffee from china cups at an outdoor cafe. What did they make of us: a bus-load of Americans earnestly delivering heart-rending harmony as we gazed across the water at some vague, blank spot near the middle, peering through collective memory and myth to see the fishing hut that once stood on stilts above the cold current. For all time, we will imagine a man there, slowly rowing a small boat that holds thirty-year-old Felix Manz--named for that other martyr--along with a robed minister of the church and an executioner. According to Bullinger, Manz's wrists were bound and pulled over his bent knees, and a stick was thrust in the space between the back of his legs and lower arms. From the platform of the hut where fishermen typically drew nets, the executioner pushed Manz, thus shackled, into the water.

He was sentenced to die that Saturday, January 5, 1525--six months after the images were stripped from Zurich's churches--for preaching and teaching radical ideas, including baptism on confession of faith. The Zurich city council had decreed re-baptism for adults a capital crime just six weeks prior. "Drown him, if he wants to be baptized again," someone must have said. Manz sang loudly at the end, tradition tells us, Domine in Manus tuas commendo spiritum meum, the last seven words spoken by Christ. Son of a Catholic priest, Manz with Conrad Grebel and George Blauroclc parted with Zwingli on the matter of baptism and thereby wedged dissent into the Swiss Reformation. Later, some would say that their gesture also made an early argument for the separation of church and state.

Now, among the rectangular flagstones that pave a low wall along the river lies a tablet engraved to memorialize that first Anabaptist execution in Zurich, as well as the last: preacher Hans Landis, beheaded nearby almost a century later. The stone was set there in 2004 to mark gestures of reconciliation between the Reformed Church and Amish and Mennonite descendants of the Swiss Anabaptists. In a ceremony that took place 477 years after Manz's execution, a representative of the Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich observed that "the persecuted do not forget their history; the persecutors by contrast would prefer to do so." (1) Mennonite pilgrims proudly return to this spot, singing; locals have no idea what they come to see.

The formal apology on behalf of the Reformed Church went on to admit and ask forgiveness for executions, imprisonment, and exile of the Anabaptists, as well as failures of memory: denials or simply forgetting. The 175 years of Anabaptist persecution, according to present Reformed understandings, was a "betrayal of the Gospel," and the radicals are now to be regarded as "the salt of the earth and the light of the world ... putting into practice the message of the Sermon on the Mount." An apology this flattering should be enough to satisfy anyone, shouldn't it? What do the spiritual heirs of long-ago victims want, except that their memory be affirmed the offense spoken aloud, the wrong admitted, and apology offered? And now that the story is set straight, will Mennonites also begin to forget? Probably not, as long as North American Anabaptist identity draws on these stories.

But there could also be the matter of reparations. Zurich rests on vaults of underground gold! Out in the mountains, the great clock towers on Reformed village churches were built with funds raised through the confiscation of Anabaptist possessions. The first Mennonite meeting house was not built in Switzerland until 1847, so for about 325 years, Mennonites worshipped in homes, stables, fields, or forests. This small nation, where the trains run on time, is slow to change; Swiss women could not vote in a federal election until 1971.

But I did not come to seek material reparation. I came to find the places and memories that have shaped my tradition: virtue and sacrifice. A genealogy of ideas is another way to enter history.

In 2007, I left my five-year-old daughter in the care of her father and embarked on a two-week "European Anabaptist heritage tour." I approached the venture with considerable trepidation, even before 1 knew that the trip would involve Mennonite hymnals in each seat pocket of a plum-colored Mercedes-Benz touring coach, morning devotions lead by tour members, and a fair amount of conspicuous, public singing. Why would a mother leave her child to take a vacation? The hauntingly familiar hymns and the recognizable Mennonite types on the bus made me feel anxious, not good enough to travel with such good people. In fact, the group was nearly as diverse as the North American Mennonite Church: all of them white people, yes, but there was a progressive female New Testament scholar, also divorced; a plain-dressed pair of furniture store proprietors from Ohio; a right-wing pesticide salesman and his wife who now worship at a Bible church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a butcher and his wife from Kitchener, Ontario; a history buff struggling to square a gay body with his love for the Church; a spiritual director and visual artist haunted by her Weaver ancestors and the bone-like forms of bamboo. And my loyal seatmate Julie, a 60-something personal shopper who gave up a good job at Nordstrom to take the tour. She'd grown up under conservative dress codes, but studied fashion design after her children went off to school. When things got too stifling on the bus, we escaped to long lunches with glasses of pilsner far from the group.

Like returning to my parents' house, the tour brought out my smallest, surliest adolescent self. Slouched in our leather seats, Julie and I exchanged eye-rolls and code names for our fellow passengers. The funding agencies that made the two-week extravagance possible were convinced I had joined the group to conduct scholarly research, to view the sites of Anabaptist European heritage, from Friesland to Bern, to observe the ways communal memory is made and preserved. And surely I had, but the construction (and deconstruction) of knowledge is a messy matter.

Before the trip, after from my daughter, I worried most about what might occur in the iconic cave of the Anabaptists. I had wrapped small toys and numbered one for each day I would be gone: sidewalk chalk, stickers, jacks, and a ball, tokens meant to serve as visible signs of her invisible mother. As for that cave, several Swiss caves are known to have served as sites of worship or refuge from Anabaptist hunters, but the one we planned to visit, the famous one I knew from photographs growing up, was the Tauferhohle at Baretswil, not far from Zurich.

What if that cave suddenly changed my mind, I worried. Please note the metaphorical associations: A cave is a womb in the earth, so I feared being sucked back into the dark, primal site of origins, swallowed up. Or, a cave is a tomb, such as the one that enabled Jesus to pass on to another life, so 1 feared some kind of second birth or resurrection. Or there's Plato's cave, and I was afraid that I would be drawn from the world above down into a place of confinement where I could see only shadows. But I am talking about a real cave on a mountainside, which anyone can now view on Google Earth by simply typing the name "Tauferhohle" into a search window. That ancestral site had loomed powerfully in my imagination since the 1970s when I saw it depicted in slide lectures and church bulletins; never mind that I was raised in a clear-headed, Mennonite congregation. For us, the bread is just bread and the grape juice, just juice, albeit elements of a sacred memorial. We are leery of material manifestations of spiritual things, like Zwingli himself, who wrote:
   They are not believers who go to anyone else for help other than to
   the one, true God. For thus are the believers differentiated from
   the unbelievers in that the believers, or those who are trusting,
   go to God alone; but the unbelievers go to the created. (2)

In retrospect, I blame the Eucharist for my worry about the cave's mystic possibilities. As a college student in the early 1980s, I wandered into St. Mark's in the Bowery, an Episcopal church which sits aslant in the old Dutch graveyard off Third Avenue at Ninth Street in New York City. There I discovered the language of the Book of Common Prayer and the practice of weekly communion, celebrated as a thanksgiving for God's incarnation and saving grace. The memorial of sacrifice is also abundantly clear in the liturgy, but that's not what I saw. I saw a man shuffle into that church, stinking in a heavy wool overcoat, dragging bags, and muttering to himself. I saw that man drawn into the circle and offered the Body and Blood of Christ along with the rest of the parishioners. For the first several years that I worshipped at St. Mark's, I wept inexplicably, nearly every Sunday during communion.

When I moved away from the City more than a decade later, I could not kick that habit. Maybe all those Sundays of just showing up at St. Mark's had changed me, gradually, without my thinking much about it. Yet, it took eighteen years of worship in that way for me to finally consider joining a local parish. I felt split: Mennonite body with a spirit that remembered and loved the material practices from before the Reformation.

"We believe in Real Presence--your people, the Anabaptists, they believed in real absence!" quipped the Anglo-Catholic priest, as I dutifully sat through confirmation class. Like finally deciding to marry after many years of co-habitation, my confirmation was prompted by pregnancy and my decision to baptize the baby into the church I attended. Yes, I baptized a baby--defying the principle that sentenced Felix Manz to his watery death in 1525--because I wanted her never to remember a day when she was not welcome at the Lord's Table. If she ever resents it and wants to be baptized on the basis of her own faith instead of her mother's intentions, I reasoned, well, it won't be the first time.

A cave may be just a cave, but if conversion can happen once, it can happen again. To face a fear, I have learned to imagine the worst-case scenario and plan backward. So, I decided to count the cave as one more risk of the trip; if something strange happened there, a change of heart

or denominational affiliation, I would have to take that as part of the pilgrim's journey and ask one of the tour guides, a distinguished Mennonite minister ordained in the old, mystical way of the lot, to baptize me right there on the spot. If the summer is not too dry, water falls across the cave's mouth; I had seen the wet veil in photographs and guessed it would serve nicely enough for a baptism.

Thus prepared, I gazed out the window as our bus rocked through the narrow, winding roads of the Swiss countryside. By now, the farmers must be used to seeing Americans in sturdy shoes climb from a coach that would otherwise be used to transport professional soccer teams, right there in their farmyard. We walked up a dirt lane through a cow pasture to the foot of a forested slope, where the Swiss Tourist Board, in anticipation of the self-proclaimed "Year of the Anabaptists, 2007," had posted a large interpretive sign at the edge of the woods. Up a path into the forest, we climbed toward the cave that gapes across the mountainside in the shape of a great, leering mouth. Long ago, fugitive faithful from surrounding farms and villages quietly slipped up through those trees, one or two at a time, sometimes risking their lives to gradually gather, over the course of many hours, for services.

We shuffled quietly until the group assembled in the cave's large chamber under a concrete-reinforced ceiling that gradually sloped into shadows. After a prayer, I watched my fellow travelers--some of them openly weeping--as they sang hymns, spontaneously and responsively recited Bible verses from memory, and shared their own thoughts about the sacrifices of the past--and felt nothing. Despite all my hope and fear, that place of pilgrimage, the cave where Swiss Anabaptist memory is most eminent, left me unmoved.

I don't want to recall the scene with arrogance: the insufferable individual who "sees feelingly" and dismisses what everyone else seems to love and find so profound. Instead, let my story point to the way cultural memories get scripted, shaped, replicated. For instance, at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, before most visitors arrive, they already know how the monument was created to organize collective memory and grief. One's experience of that place cannot help but be shaped by those expectations.

And so I had to travel to Switzerland a second time, on my own, accompanied by only one friend whose virtues include a facility with German and manual transmissions. I had to return to seek what memories I could find for myself. Again I left my daughter at home, this time with a new scooter to propel her own adventures. I asked Diane Glancy, a Cherokee writer who is also a Pentacostal Christian, if she thought I could learn anything by going to ancestral places, without knowing the local language or having access to much archival material. Will I find anything personally relevant, I asked, if I just hike up into the woods near Langnau, for instance, where according to a ballad in the Ausbund, a soldier brandishing a sword burst into the circle of believers and captured my ancestor, Hans Zug, as he preached?

"Yes," she said simply and plainly with absolute confidence. "If you go to the places and ask, you will learn." She did not mean that I should speak to the local people who may or may not know anything about what occurred there so long ago; ask the landscape, she meant. I could not get to her be more specific. Do you pray to the earth? Do you pray to God? How do you enter history that way?

She only told me there are certain places in North America--battlefields out west, for instance--that she cannot return to, because the violence in the earth there is so palpable. She said that when she drives on interstates on the plains, built on the old wagon tracks, she plays recordings of the Psalms from the Hebrew Bible in her car and drifts, as if she were migrating herself. She has aligned herself not just with the westward expansion and native retreat, but more ancient migrations: Babylonian exile, David's lamentations, and flight from God, all bound together with her drive from Gambier, Ohio, to Kansas City.

She was not thinking of narrative history or chronological time at all, but something like the palimpsest that archeologists find underground, relics layered one on top of another. All that happened in a place remains and may become legible in some way if you are able to return and look and listen. What you find may be what you sought, or not.

Which takes me back to the Grossmunster, where I hurried first from the airport on my return to Switzerland. I slowly pushed open one of those heavy bronze doors, entered the dim vestibule, and there, a few steps inside that vast sanctuary, on the right, carved into one of the stone pillars, in a niche built to hold holy water, she remained.

The fresco was painted around 1300, in the days that saw an eruption of the most fabulous feminine archetype in Europe. Mary, Mother of Jesus, inspired the creation of beauty in many forms: Gothic cathedrals, illuminated manuscripts, poetry, and song. In those days, well before the Reformation, God was imminent in the material world--in water and earth and bits of bone said to belong to saints, in countless splinters of wood reputed to have come from the Cross. (Enough wood, wrote Erasmus of Rotterdam, to build a whole house, at least!) This niche held water drawn from a well or fountain fed by the river, blessed by a priest, and placed in this spot to become sacred, set apart from ordinary life, holy: the waters that stirred in Creation, the waters that parted under the feet of the Hebrews, the water of the Jordan when John baptized Jesus, and the waters of birth. Dip a finger into that font, trace a cross on your forehead, recall your own baptism, and, with God's help, resist all manner of evil.

But there is no holy water in this church now.

The fresco painted where the font once stood, a common Romanesque iconographic convention called "the Seat of Wisdom," depicts the Madonna with a Christ Child on her lap. Jesus already holds a cross and raises a hand to bless. Mary offers life to all who enter; whoever partakes of this water will have no thirst. Precisely this type of logic--associative, metaphoric, analogic, immediately material, and yet transcendent--the Reformers resisted, dismissing it as superstition, magical thinking, idolatry. If you seek Christ, look not at graven images but to the faces of the poor, and serve Him by feeding the people with food that will sustain their bodies, the reformers preached.

In Zurich, Scripture--the word of God translated into the common language of the people and read aloud--replaced pictures as the means of religious instruction and devotion. "Images are the books of the unlearned, but too readily lend themselves to externalism [idolatry] that it might be well if the bishops, in an orderly fashion, should remove them all except the cross," (3) wrote Erasmus late in his life. But the great humanist and pacifist who inspired Zwingli and the early Anabaptists in Zurich did not support iconoclastic violence. He could be sardonic, even sarcastic, about the cult of relics, and yet he called sacred paintings and sculpture "silent poetiy."

Notice the stress on language. Erasmus, a Neoplatonist, urged the upward climb from visual images to verbal ones, from the sensual to the intellectual. Language, he believed, was the most appropriate path to God. He could not have anticipated that these ideas would support arguments that led to acts of iconoclasm by common people--who were first prosecuted as blasphemers, but later as mere vandals--in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland. Dissatisfied with Late Medieval piety and pressed by hard times, people attacked expensive objects in the church. Nor could Erasmus have guessed that Zurich's council would sanction the removal of sacred images. Paintings and sculptures were returned to donors; the frescoes whitewashed. To this day, in small Reformed churches in the countryside, white walls bear nothing except elaborate calligraphy: beautifully formed words. In tiny out-of-the-way chapels, you can sometimes see old images bleeding through the upper corners of the whitewash, the return of the repressed.

Nor could the images be eliminated altogether in Zurich. Large frescoes were scraped clean, rendering the stone almost as blank and smooth as the cement walls of Zurich's present-day airport, but fresco on a curved surface is harder to remove. And so the reformers--or vandals, choose your term--had scratched at the painting's surface with sharp tools. In the dim niche, you can still see a deep gouge from where Mary's nose would have been, up and across to where her right eye was, then into her veil. That gouge remains a singular gesture, deeper than the other scratches: the mark of a human hand, distinct as any painter's signature, and nearly 500 years old.

Her left eye remains, eerily solitary as the all-seeing eye of God, deep brown, traced as if with kohl. Why leave one eye for the Mother of Sorrows to witness the destruction of so much beauty? The hands of both figures remain, but their faces are scraped away. A patch of gold leaf from the baby's halo persists, as does a fragment of a stem in Mary's hand--was it a rose, an olive branch? I have seen this before: the eyes of saints scratched from the walls of stone churches at the monastic complex at Goerme in Cappadocia, Turkey. Or at Ayutthaya, Thailand's ancient capital, where monks faithfully drape saffron scarves onto beheaded Buddhas.

Why did this Madonna arrest my attention, as if my body recognized violence, a sensation more immediate and palpable than compassion or empathy? Why have I never felt such visceral shock upon viewing a crucifix, I wondered the next day at Einsiedeln, as I watched an elderly nun, in a simple black, polyester dress and wimple, fall to her bare knees and pray at the feet of a crucified Jesus. It cannot be only because I am a woman, or because I am a mother, or because I traveled so far from my own child, and arrived so long after this Maiy and Jesus were wrecked, such a wreck myself, the first time I saw her.

"Einsiedeln?" asked the Reformation scholar I met in Zurich, "That is the most Catholic place in all of Switzerland. Why would you want to go there?"

I claimed I wanted to spend more time at the great Benedictine abbey that was an early center for printing, learning, and music, where Zwingli studied languages and the writings of Erasmus, before he traveled twenty miles to the other end of Lake Zurich to stage his reforms at the Grossmunster. There, Zwingli observed the pilgrimages and pageants, and criticized them as expensive, reckless ventures. During medieval times, as many as 50,000 people chose or were compelled to make penitential visits to Einsiedeln each week, my ancestors surely among them. Now, only 200,000 people visit each year. The afternoon I arrived, after that morning in Zurich, the town was quiet except for some American high school students, dumped by package tour buses for an inexpensive night in the old hotels and hostels named for saints.

Einsiedeln began as a hermitage in the "dark forest" when St. Meinrad, around 835, retreated to the wilderness to pray and study, accompanied by a pair of ravens he had rescued from a vicious hawk. He was also generous with pilgrims and even fed two thieves who came to rob his cottage. Because his only treasure was solitude, they killed him. His loyal ravens followed the thieves all the way back to Zurich, squawking and flapping around the thieves' heads until the evil deed was discovered and condemned. The hermit's chapel remained, and a hundred years later, a monastery was built there.

Sometime in the thirteenth century, a black Madonna was placed in the chapel. A record from 1318 speaks of a spring of healing water, attributed to Mary, that flowed from beneath the hermit's chapel. Today, the walls of the monastery church--rebuilt in the early nineteenth century--bear crutches and wheelchairs and other signs of miraculous recovery. On the abbey's official website, "Father Pilgrim" laments that although pilgrimage--forbidden during the French Revolution--was restored in the mid-nineteenth century, but it changed with railroads, and, especially with the automobile, became "tinged with tourism." Cars and buses introduced "an intermediate zone between pilgrimage and tourism that is difficult to overlook." (4) The tourist goes to gape and shop, to take pictures. Some pilgrims seek healing, drawn to the compassion of the Black Madonna; others search for enlightenment as they follow the Stations of the Cross winding up into the forest.

I could not tell the Reformation scholar that I wanted to return to Einsiedeln for beauty, to walk the green hills behind the Abbey and look back on its walled orchards, to stroll the town's quiet streets and hike up into the forest, to sit in the Baroque basilica, but most of all to hear the monks sing. Every afternoon after vespers in the great sanctuary, about 40 men, most quite elderly, shuffle back the long aisle in their black robes to encircle the Black Madonna of the Hermits. Clustered around the bars that gate her black marble altar, the people part, let the monks pass to stand at her feet, then press closer. This custom began in the middle of the sixteenth century, in the midst of the Reformation.

The first time I heard the men sing the Salve Regina, I heard only longing, that other way to enter history and resist ruin. Every day of the week they sing to her, their voices blending in four-part harmony dense with yearning, so rich it seemed to me, upon hearing them a second time, their song might be a kind of balm for the wrecked Madonna in Zurich.

O clement, O loving, the men sing to the Black Madonna. Amid plump, gold clouds, she holds the Christ Child, both of them clothed in elaborate brocades, which the monks change frequently. Outside, from postcard racks that line the stone arcade, pilgrims and tourists may choose from several rows of photographs depicting the many varieties and colors, this Mary of many dresses.

"Mother of Mercy," she was called during the plagues. From that time of great desperation, paintings show her large cloak spread open like tent flaps, sheltering the bodies huddled under her arms. The Black Madonna, Mother of Sorrows, where she is found, she is always said to possess mystical abilities to heal physical illnesses and transcend trauma and grief. She was "Mary the Ark" who carried the seed of a new creation in her watery womb.

"Mother of the Nations," she retains the form and names of the goddess-mothers of the Mediterranean World. In the Romance languages of that region, her name echoes every time we utter the words for mother and ocean: la mer, il mare; ma mere, mia madre; Mary, Star of the Sea; Astarte's daughter: Mother of Matter.


(1.) Reuci Reich, "The Reformation and the Anabaptists--Steps to Reconciliation, 26 June, 2004, Zurich, Switzerland: Statement of regret," Ruedi Reich, President, Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich, e832/Statementofregret.pdf. accessed on January 10, 2015.

(2.) Zwingli, Ulrich, 1972, Selected Works, ed. and trans. Samuel Macauley Jackson. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 4.88. Quoted in Eire, Carols M. N., 1986, War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 84.

(3.) Eire, 51.

(4.) Salzgeber, Joachim, OSB, "The History of Pilgrimage to Einsiedeln," http:// accessed on January 10, 2015.
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Author:Kasdorf, Julia Spicher
Publication:Cross Currents
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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