Eindhoven, Netherlands 2003

A cloud of witnesses. Saints and role models in Christian liturgy

Report on the 19th Congress of the Societas Liturgica

The XIXth congress of Societas Liturgica was held 11th – 16th of August 2003 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. About 180 participants, members of Societas and Dutch scholars in liturgical studies, met in (for Holland) extremely hot whether conditions. All receptions could be held in the courts and gardens of the congress hotel, a former school of a convent. The theme of the congress was A cloud of witnesses. Saints and role models in Christian liturgy. Keynote speakers approached the theme from different perspectives. Willem Frijhoff (the Netherlands) placed the saints in a broader cultural context of popular role models like film stars; Guy Philippart (Belgium) spoke on the problem of Hagiographie; Societas member Gabriele Winkler (Germany) choose ‘The role of angels and humans before the Holy’ as theme of her keynote lecture, whereas Geoffrey Wainwright (USA and also member of Societas) treated the confessional and ecumenical dialogue on the saints and the departed. The role of ancestors in the cloud of witnesses was explored in a forum with statements from Asian, African and Latin American speakers. In the presidential address Yngvill Martola spoke about the saints in the Lutheran tradition.

The presenters of more than 60 case studies treated many saints, ancient, modern and post-modern, in many different contexts. On Thursday participants left Eindhoven for the usual excursion and for the congress Eucharist. Some choose a bus tour through the Dutch countryside, with its characteristic river landscapes and dikes, and visited a medieval castle and a fortress in the so called Dutch Waterline (a defence ‘wall’, but in fact lands that could be flooded in times of danger). Others went directly to Utrecht and visited the city and its medieval churches. All participants met in Utrecht in the Dom Church for the Eucharist, presided by our President Yngvill Martola and pastor loci Henk van Olst. The Lutheran president and reformed minister together celebrating reflected the Dutch protestant situation: the (small) Lutheran church and the two (big) reformed churches will be united as the Protestant Church in the Netherlands in June 2004. The day was concluded by an Indonesian dinner (which is popular in the Netherlands as Indonesia was a Dutch colony for a long time).

The usual business meeting was held on Friday before the Congress Dinner. Jean Claude Crivelli (Swiss), elected as president-elect in Santa Clara, had to resign from this election due to new tasks imposed on him by his church. Ottfried Jordahn, second after Jean Claude Crivelli in this election, took his place and became the new president of Societas Liturgica after the Eindhoven congress. David Holeton, for many, many years one of the secretaries of Societas was elected as president-elect during the business meeting. The Societas members gave an ovation to Els Rose, coordinator of the Liturgical Institute in Tilburg, who in the Dutch local committee was by far the most important organizer of the congress. The XXth congress will be in Dresden, Germany.

Marcel Barnard