Church, fair and culture

First to the cathedral, then to buy a paring knife, then to the spice stand, then an apple of paradise. And then take a look. Paderborn's Liborifest is a celebration of great traditions – and personal rituals. Since the weekend, it's that time again: Archdiocese and city of Paderborn celebrate their patron saint, St. Liborius, for nine days. This year the Apostolic Nuncio in Germany celebrates his Libori premiere.

He was bishop of Le Mans in the fourth century. Not much is known about what he did during his lifetime, but it is unlikely to match what he created posthumously: the world's oldest twinning of cities and one of the largest public festivals. Everyone – from the archbishop to the mayor – is talking about a unique mixture of church, fair and culture these days. In 836, when the diocese of Paderborn had just been founded, a small delegation went to the Frankish kingdom to bring the bones of a saint to the diocese. People at that time believed that the grace of God was a little more certain for them. The Saxons returned with the relics of St. Liborius. Normally they rest in a small wooden shrine in the cathedral crypt, but for Libori they are displayed in the precious golden shrine in the high choir for veneration. The elevation of the relics at the opening of the festival week is again this year the first liturgical highlight – a centuries-old, impressive spectacle without equal. In a seemingly endless line, the clergy in their black, white or purple vestments move from the choir into the crypt to accompany the shrine up the central aisle of the cathedral. During the procession, the Liboritusch, a short sequence from the Paulus oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, is traditionally heard four times, sending a shiver down the spine of any half-sensitive Paderborn resident. Some are so moved that they sing along the second time. No one knows how the chords found their way into this liturgy, but Libori without the Tusch, that would be like Cologne without the cathedral.

Libori premiere for Archbishop Jean-Claude Periss

His Libori premiere this year is the Apostolic Nuncio in Germany, Archbishop Jean-Claude Perisset, who had come for his official inaugural visit. The timing could not have been better, says Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker of Paderborn, Germany. Perisset also gives the sermon on Libori Sunday, in which he refers to the motto chosen by Becker for this year's Libori festival. It reads: "…and in death do not leave us" and is a line from the Paderborn hymn "Sei gegrubet o Libori" (Greetings o Libori). The Nunitus complains that human life is understood less and less from the Christian faith. That is why, for some, the sanctity of life is in question not only at the beginning, but also at the beginning: "The first are trying to open up a new market for themselves as helpers to suicide under the guise of free human self-determination."While people are praying in the cathedral, there is a hustle and bustle outside. 160 market vendors have set up their stalls around the cathedral, selling everything your heart desires: pots, pans, cleaning rags, animal skins, flower bulbs, ointments, belts, corsetry and so on. But that is not all: In addition to a rich cultural program also the fair belongs to Libori. This year, the largest transportable chain carousel in the world will be located there. At a height of 43 meters, the brave can let themselves be whirled around. Many will probably prefer to stay downstairs and be guided by their personal ritual at the fair as well: First a bratwurst, then a pilsner, then roasted almonds. Yes, and then look.

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