Church of the Week: Sainte Madeleine, St.-Marie-Aux-Mines, France

In the late seventeenth century, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Jakob Hochstetler, a close associate of Jacob Amman--for whom the Amish are named--lived (like Amman) in the small Volges Mountain village of St.-Marie-Aux-Mines, a village that can claim distinction as the birthplace of the Amish.

The lovely Robin and I visited this village in the Alsace region of France in November 2010. There we found the Sainte Marie Madeleine Catholic Church, named for the same saint (Mary Magdalene) that gives the village its name.

The church's large front doors were locked. But it looked welcoming enough, so I circumnavigated the structure, and finally found a side entrance to the sanctuary that was unlocked.

The church's interior was pretty dark, but I managed a photo of the altar. It is clearly an active church.

Built in 1747 (according to the plaque at the front entrance), the church would not have been seen by Amman and my ancestor Jakob, which is just as well, as they had to leave the area by order of Louis XIV in 1712. Which is okay, too, because in 1738, my ancestor emigrated to North America, and became one of the first Amish to settle in what is now Pennsylvania.

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