St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Berlin
The Church of St. Thomas Aquinas, consecrated in 1999 on the grounds of the Catholic Academy, is a new place of worship and prayer in the centre of Berlin.
Just as the Catholic Academy is dedicated to dialogue and exchange with the various social groups from the fields of culture, politics, business, science and religion in the capital, the Academy Church also wants to be a place for Christians from different spiritual, political and national backgrounds.
The church as the core
The newly built church of the Catholic Academy in Berlin is its core in architectural terms. Even from the outside, it is clear to visitors to the Catholic Academy as well as to passers-by that a special building stands there between the old and the new Academy buildings. The church as a place of religious experience is ultimately the reason and foundation for the church institutions. This is to be sensually experienced through the uniqueness and simultaneous connectedness of the church architecture. For the religious person, space is not homogeneous - it has fractures and cracks, it contains parts that are qualitatively different from the rest. "Come no nearer!" said the Lord to Moses, "Put off your shoes, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5) writes Mircea Eliade in his book "The Sacred and the Profane". A strong sculptural impression is already evoked by the construction.
Flat, long-format natural stones with a bush-hammered surface are piled up in many layers to form the nine-metre-high walls and a clearly defined cube. Again and again, and progressively from the bottom to the top, a glass block of the same format is laid in place of a stone. Through this large number of glass blocks, light enters the interior of the room. With increasing height, the walls lose more and more of their stony heaviness. More and more pierced by light, they increasingly dissolve. In every season and at all times of day, the natural light will bathe the room in a different atmosphere. Conversely, in the darkness, the church lets its light shine from the inside to the outside. These walls forming the space are like a picture. They remain free of functional tasks. The roof, for example, stands on its own feet. Like a table, it is made of smooth concrete and placed in the quadrangle of walls.
The walls are not touched. The space between the edge of the (table) roof and the walls is covered with glass. Three high, narrow doors lead into the interior of the church. They close the space on the inside of the wall. Walking through the wall and crossing a "water line", indicated by the holy water basins set into the wall reveals, makes entering the "other" space tangible.
The furnishings of the interior are pure and restrained. The altar forms the centre. Like the wall, it is also made of layered stone. Slightly offset is the ambo, which, in contrast, is kept filigree and transparent. The tabernacle shines in the centre of attention. Apart from the apostles' candlesticks, which are met by six projecting masonry stones on each side wall, the tabernacle alone occupies the wall. A church building in the middle of Berlin, at the transition to the next millennium, has the character of a new beginning. This is expressed by the fact that the other liturgical objects are not dictated by the space, but appear as if "brought along" by the faithful. The cross is an erected carrying cross made of ivory. The candlestick for the Easter candle is as simple as the other candlesticks. The organ's instrumental character is emphasised - it is not architecturally fitted in.
The church is meant to give space. Like the basic seating, the furniture is light and movable, to be placed according to the situation and requirements. Our desire is to create a space for the Catholic Academy that has a spiritual power, that gives peace for meditation and prayer and from which visitors can receive something. The new church, conceived and designed by artist Professor Norbert Radermacher and architects Thomas Höger and Sarah Hare, is an outstanding example of modern church architecture in the capital.
Just as the Catholic Academy itself is a place of dialogue and exchange with the various social groups in the capital, the "Academy Church" also wants to be a place for Christians
- who are of different spiritual, political and social backgrounds,
- who are looking for solidarity in faith and a spiritual home in this city,
- who are looking for a contemporary proclamation of the Gospel and faith.
We cordially invite you to attend the services.
- on all Sundays and public holidays 12.00 noon Holy Mass
- on all Sundays 6.00 p.m. Holy Mass of the Artists' Chaplaincy
- Sunday 10.30 am English Mass