Imperia statue of Constance and John Huss
May 14, 2012
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Recently, I went to Constance (Konstanz) in the South West corner of Germany to visit sites of historical importance to the Reformation. My plan was to of course visit the impeccable Constance munster (cathedral), John Huss (Jan Hus) museum and memorial stone. Or so I thought. As you may imagine the city of Constance always has its jaw dropping surprises and humorous detours. No wonder John Huss was short changed in that infamous Council of Constance by the Emperor Sigismund.
As I took in the nostalgic natural and ancient delights of this mesmerizing lake side University city guess who I stumbled upon again? Yup, that controversial Emperor Sigismund has had a statue of himself made. Well believe me it’s not a flattering one though. It is as controversial as it’s own colorful infamy.
Imagine walking down a peaceful foot path with park benches lining the sides of a clear lake harbor. A flower garden gives you a warm bear like hug from behind and thrusting you forward to catch the hue of the sun hidden behind the Spring time cloud line over the Lake Constance. There as you are intoxicated by the glory of the natural beauty of creation with no care in the world and just as you are about to take a nice cool sip of juice. There just before you can say “John Huss” There before you even can say “gesundheit”. There as you approach the main harbour stands the statue “IMPERIA” (without a fig leaf)!!!
The statue “Imperia” has become the icon of Constance. It is said to satirically symbolize the flourishing trade of the prostitutes who stayed in Constance during the famous Council of Constance. At nine-meter-high and 18-tons heavy, it is a modern sculpture by Peter Lenk from Berlin made in 1993. The statue turns on an axis that runs perpendicular to the roof of the small house. Hoisted right up in the hands of a lady who apparently rotates in 360 degrees all day long are impish and wiley looking impressions of (yours truly) Emperor Sigismund and Pope Martin V (with pointed ears and yup they are shamefully naked)!
With a big gulp I had seen enough! No, I had actually choked on my drink. May be both. I hurriedly took a few sheepish photographs and trudged on to the Constance Cathedral and then to find my humble goose, John Huss. It is said that as the official executioner was about to light the pyre at the feet of the reformer, he said, “Now we will cook the goose.” (Huss in Bohemian means goose.) “Yes”, replied Huss, “but there will come an eagle in a hundred years that you will not reach.”
About a hundred years later Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on the Wittenburg door!