October 18, 2022
The day began with a brisk walk from the ship up to the overlying banks of the Rhine to the city of Speyer. Our well versed guide began the walk with a detailed explanation of the founding in 10 BCE as a Roman military camp and over the course of the next hour brought us up through the mid-20th century. The name evolved from Spira, first mentioned in 614 CE. In 1294 Seyer became a Free Imperial City, renowned for its Romanesque cathedral, its vibrant Jewish community, its seat of the Imperial Chamber Court, for 50 diets that took place within its walls, most notably 1526 and 1529. The 1529 Protestation at Speyer came as six princes and representatives of 14 Imperial Free Cities petitioned the Imperial Diet at Speyer against an imperial ban of Martin Luther and his works, signaling the beginning of Protestantism. Speyer was one of the main centers of the Holy Roman Empire and beneath the high altar of the Cathedral are the tombs of eight Holy Roman Emperors and several German kings. Speyer was one of the ShUM-cities of Speyer (Sh), Worms (W=U), and Mainz (M), a cluster of three Jewish communities in the 11th century. These three cities formed the cultural center of Jewish life in Europe during the Middle Ages.
When I looked online, I found the Speyer Cathedral is officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St. Stephen and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary, patron saint of Speyer (“Patrona Spirensis”) and St. Stephen. Pope Pius XI raised Speyer Cathedral to the rank of a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church in 1925. Construction began in 1030 BCE under Konrad II, with the east end and high vault of 1090–1103, the imposing triple-aisled vaulted basilica of red sandstone was extremely influential in the subsequent development of Romanesque architecture during the 11th and 12th centuries. As the burial site for emperors and kings the cathedral is regarded as a symbol of imperial power. Speyer Cathedral remains the largest Romanesque church in the world and is one of the most important architectural monuments of its time. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981.
The ship jumped ahead of us along the river, and we picked it up by bus in Worms. Worms has a pre-Roman foundation and is one of the oldest cities in northern Europe. As the capital of the Kingdom of the Burgundians in the early fifth century it is the scene of the medieval legends referring to this period. Worms has been a Roman Catholic bishopric since at least 614 and was an important palatinate (region) of Charlemagne. Worms Cathedral is one of the imperial cathedrals and among the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Germany. Worms prospered in the High Middle Ages as an imperial free city. Among more than a hundred imperial diets held at Worms, the Diet of 1521 (commonly known as the Diet of Worms) ended with the Edict of Worms, in which Martin Luther was declared a heretic. Worms is also one of the historical ShUM-cities as a cultural center of Jewish life in Europe during the Middle Ages.
THOUGHTS: Back at the ship we began an afternoon cruise down the Rhine, which we had been traveling at night. As we passed along the countryside the names of the towns were displayed in large white letters to assist the many cruise ships which passed this corridor. When we saw a collection of people along the shore they would wave, in hopes of our waving back, and we obliged them. It reminded me of our long vacation trips by car and passing a semitrailer truck. My brothers and I would pump our arms at the driver, hoping for the sound their air horn. Our waves and the driver’s horns seemed to bring a sense of solidarity among unknown travelers. It reminded me we are all on the same journey. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.