St. Thomas of Aquin
Located on the grounds of the Katholische Akademie, the St Thomas von Aquin church was consecrated in 1999 and represents a new place for religious service and prayer in the centre of Berlin.
The Katholische Akademie is dedicated to open dialogue and exchange with the capital's diverse social groups from the fields of culture, religion, science, politics and finance. Likewise, the Akademie church strives to be a meeting place for Christians of diverse spiritual, national, cultural and political backgrounds.
The church as the heart of the Akademie
The newly-erected church of the Katholische Akademie in Berlin forms the heart of the ensemble in an architectural sense. From the outside, it is clearly evident to visitors of the Katholische Akademie as well as casual passers-by that a very unusual structure is nestled among the older and more recent building that comprise the Katholische Akademie. The church building, as a place for religious experience, ultimately forms the cornerstone of the church as an institution – and this is made tangible to the senses through the uniqueness and cohesiveness of the architecture. To religious people, the space is highly differentiated – with cracks and fissures, and possessing parts that are qualitatively distinct from the rest of the building. "Do not draw near this place!" said the Lord to Moses, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5) wrote Mircea Eliade in his book "The Sacred and the Profane". The form of the building evokes an intense sculptural impression.
Long, flat natural stones with a bush hammered surface are built up in many layers to form the nine-metre high walls, which are arranged to complete a well-defined cube. At intervals, increasingly progressively towards the ceiling, individual stone blocks are substituted by glass blocks in an identical format. The large number of these glass blocks allows light to enter the room's interior. As the walls ascend, they seem to become lighter due to the declining number of stone blocks. Increasingly interspersed with light, the stone blocks seem to gradually evaporate. Depending on the season and the time of day, the light entering the room imbues it with a unique atmosphere. Conversely, during the hours of darkness, the churches interior lighting radiates to the outside through the glass. These walls, which form the space within the room, are like a picture: they remain free of any functional task. The roof is supported by its own columns – constructed of smooth concrete, it is suspended like a table-top within the four walls. The walls do not come into contact with the roof, and the space between the edge of the supported ceiling and the walls is covered by glass. Three tall, narrow doors lead into the interior of the church. They serve to close in the room on the inner side of the wall. When visitors pass through the wall and cross the "water line" - which is hinted at by the holy water fonts set into the embrasures – they have the sense that they are entering a "separate" space.
Features of the interior
The interior features are pristine and discreet. The altar forms the focal point of the space and, echoing the design of the walls, it is constructed out of layered stone blocks. The pulpit is slightly offset, and in contrast to the altar it is a very filigree, transparent structure. The tabernacle forms a focal point: it is the only item that has a permanent place on the walls apart from the sconces, six of which mounted on each side wall, on small, projecting stone slabs. A church building in the centre of Berlin erected at the dawn of a new millennium symbolizes a new beginning. This is given expression by the fact that all the remaining liturgical objects are not as much anchored to the space, as they are connected to the congregation. The crucifix is a floor-mounted processional cross made of ivory. The candlestick for the paschal candle is as plain as the other candlesticks. The organ is not an architectural fitting – instead its character as an instrument is highlighted. The church was designed to provide varying spatial arrangements. To match the basic seating, all the furnishings are light and mobile so that they can suit every situation and occasion. It is our aim to create a space for the Katholische Akademie which has spiritual power, which provides tranquillity for prayer and meditation, and which has something to offer the visitor. The new church, which was conceived and designed by the artist Professor Norbert Radermacher and the architects Thomas Höger and Sarah Hare, is one of the most outstanding examples of modern church architecture in Germany's capital city.
Just as the Katholische Akademie itself is a place for dialogue and exchange with the city's diverse social groups, the "Akademie Church" aims to be such a place for Christian visitors:
- who are from diverse spiritual, political and national backgrounds,
- who are seeking communion in their faith and a spiritual home in this city,
- who are looking for a contemporary proclamation of the Gospels and of their faith.
We warmly invite you to join us for worship:
- every Sunday and on Christian holidays at 12 pm for Holy Mass
- every Sunday at 6 pm for Holy Mass of the "Künstlerseelsorge"
- Sunday 10.30 am English Mass