User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: We Had it First

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

We Had it First

For as far back as there were churches up until the early 20th century, swastikas were common fixtures in Christian religious buildings.  Here is a Byzantine mosaic in modern Israel.

Today is Sunday, and although I have gotten out of the habit, I decided to go to church today.  I'm a Catholic and happened to be riding down South Broad Street around 10:30 this morning.  I noticed people entering the church and guessed that mass was about ready to start.  I was right.

This church was built sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century, and from its Gothic design with decorated wood timbers up by the ceiling, I believe it probably was originally a congregation of people who hailed from northern Europe.  The church as a brown mosaic tile floor, which was probably made locally back in the days when Trenton was a center of the pottery industry.

What struck me as strange is that in the border of the tiles in the center isle there are swastikas as well as other iterations of the cross such as the Maltese cross.  I did a Google search and found out that swastikas were often used as decorations on buildings prior to the 1930s, when the symbol became associated with Hitler and the Nazis.   Prior to the Nazis, the swastika in the west was considered a symbol of good luck and to this day remains a sacred symbol for Hindus in India.

For those who are concerned with sourcing, here is a link to the Wikipedia article:

Another strange practice which has found its way into the Catholic mass in the last 10 or 15 years is the Hitler salute.  The priest says "Hold your arms out in gladness to the Lord" and the congregation responds with the Nazi salute.  No it doesn't happen in all churches, but I have seen it in some places like St. Ann's in Lawrenceville.  No, it is not really the Nazi salute.  They stole it from us.  It is the old Roman salute from the days of the empire.

It is important not to let others destroy the symbols of our past by hijacking then and using then for evil purposes.  We as Americans own the swastika as part of our collective heritage and the Catholic church owns the outstretched arm which we got from ancient Rome.  So why not use them and be proud of them 

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