Bad Bergzabern — A Canonized Nun On The German Wine Route

You’d think you were in Florida when it comes to mild winters and warm summers. But, not a chance… You’re near the French border in the Upper Rhine Valley on the German Wine Route in the town of Bad Bergzabern.

As fantastic as Bad Bergzabern’s landscape sounds now, add in the aromatic scents of almond, fig, and chestnut trees that paint the landscape to make it picture perfect.

However, I’m not thinking about the food or wine — I’m still on the “Bad” moniker. Yeah, anything with “Bad” is good, because that means it’s a spa town! Whoo-hoo!

Yeah, get set for a few days of massaging, steamroom and sauna visits, natural springs, and dips in either the indoor or outdoor pool. Yes, I love the Südpfalz Therme.

Culture shock notice: don’t be shocked to see sauna-goers to be totally unclothed. Naked, OK? I mean total birthday suit naked.

Clothing is not optional to visit the 16th century Schloss Bergzabern, the town’s landmark. This Renaissance castle isn’t the first on to be built on this spot, it was destroyed during the Peasants’ War in the 1500s.

Another Renaissance beauty in Bad Bergzabern is the Haus Zum Engel. Lucky for us, it’s no longer a residential home, but part restaurant and part museum.

Another museum you’ll want to see is the Westwallmuseum, an old bunker from the days of the Cold War. And over at the Town Square is a miniature museum, housed within one of the town’s oldest buildings.

While you’re out & about, keep a lookout for the Wine Fountain — created to look like a lamb, monkey, pig, and lion are drinking from it. That must be some really good vino. ;-)

As fun and lighthearted as I can be, Bad Bergzabern has a serious side. I heard of a Carmelite nun by the name of Edith Stein many years ago. She was born to a religious Jewish family at the turn of the 20th century — and converted to Catholicism right here at Bad Bergzabern’s St. Martin’s Church in 1922.

Her story is a sad one. If you don’t know what happened to her, her conversion in Bad Bergzabern might not seem all that remarkable.

Sister Theresia Benedicta (as she was known after taking her orders in 1934) was sent to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp where she died in the gas chamber on August 9, 1942. She’s considered a martyr for the Catholic Church (she was killed because of the church’s outspoken stance on anti-Semitism, not because she was Jewish); and Pope Benedict XVI’s predecessor, John Paul II, canonized her in 1998.

A sheer waste of talent, as the good sister held a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Göttingen, as well as being a published author.

Wow, how do you end after something like that? How about giving St. Theresia Benedicta of the Cross (or, just Ms. Edith Stein) a thought while you’re sitting under one of Bad Bergzabern’s almond trees, yes?

 

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