Tag: German Language

  • Statue of Christ in St. Michael’s Cemetery

    Statue of Christ

    St. Michael’s was a German parish, but it must have had a small Hungarian contingent as well, or it shared its cemetery with a Hungarian parish. This statue of Christ blessing visitors as they enter the cemetery (it is placed in the middle of a circle at the entrance) stands on a base with the inscription EGO SUM RESURRECTIO ET VITA in Latin and three other languages: German, English, and Hungarian.

    Statue in circle
    I am the resurrection and the life
    Ego sum resurrectio et vita
    Hungarian and German
    Rear of the statue
    Full length
  • William H. Krauth Monument, Prospect Cemetery

    A splendid bilingual zinc monument—German on one side, English on the other. As usual with zinc monuments, it is as legible now as it was when it was put up. This is style no. 156 from the Monumental Bronze Company, with an interesting choice of panel inserts.

    Father Pitt was not able to find this poem anywhere on line. His attempt at a translation follows the transcription, but anyone who knows German better is invited to correct it:

    Liebe Eltern ich muss scheiden,
    Denn mein Jesus ruft mir zu;
    Nun erlost von allem Leiden,
    Gönnet mir die susse Ruh.

    Tröstet euch, wir seh’n uns wieder,
    Dort in jener Herrlichkeit,
    Singet ihm die frohen Lieder,
    Bleibet doch mit Gott vereint.

    Dear parents, I must depart,
    For my Jesus calls to me;
    Spared by good fortune from all suffering,
    He allows me sweet repose.

    Be comforted; we shall meet again,
    There in that glory,
    Sing joyful songs to him,
    Linger still united with God.

  • The Inverted Torch

    Since Roman times, the inverted torch has been a symbol of death. Here are two examples from the Smithfield East End Cemetery, in both of which we note that the torch keeps burning upside-down in a most unlikely manner. Both couples have German names, both were probably members of the same Reformed congregation, and the stones are nearly contemporary and side by side; but we note that one of them is English and one is German—an indication of how thoroughly bilingual the more prosperous parts of the German community in Pittsburgh were at the beginning of the twentieth century.

  • Crecencia Lutz Monument, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Ross Township

    This towering monument is in a style all its own. What shall we call it? Pittsburgh German Rococo? The inscription, cut by a local stonecutter (a tradition that survived among the Germans here decades longer than it did among English-speakers) quotes from Job: in the words of the King James Version, “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.“ The German translation of the first line would be more closely rendered as “Short are the days of man,” which is a more striking sentiment that seems tailor-made for an epitaph.

    The relief is a bit elementary, like something that would have been turned out by the second-best student in a community-college sculpture class. The overall composition, however, is unforgettable. The blackness of industry has only added to the impression that this monument is something colossal and important.

  • Georg Kirner Monument, Minersville Cemetery

    In  spite of the damaged statue, this is an unusually beautiful monument, and the inscriptions are very good examples of German stonecutting in Pittsburgh.

    Georg Kirner
    Born Hoeffingen, Baden,
    April 17, 1831.
    Died in Pittsburg
    May 12, 1872.

    The language does not seem to be standard German (note, for example, the spelling “Maÿ” rather than “Mai”). Is it some Alemannic dialect? Perhaps someone more familiar with German can help old Pa Pitt by identifying the dialect and translating the other inscriptions:

    So leb denn wohl so zieh dahin
    Die Erde wartet dein
    Geh in des Todes stille Ruhe-Kammerein
    Shlaf eine sanfte süse Ruh’
    Die Hand der Liebe deckt dich zu,

    In his transcription, Father Pitt has made the assumption that a horizontal line over an N or M doubles the letter.

    Jeh empfand an deiner Seite
    Lebensfroh der Erde Glück
    Jinner geh mir dein Geleite
    Einen frohen augenblick.

    The base of the statue is marked “Mein Gatte” (“My  Husband).” The statue is probably ordered from a monument-dealer’s catalogue, with the simple Gothic letters already on the base. They are not nearly as elegant as the beautiful lettering by the local stonecutter.