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INTERVIEW - 2,000 wooden blocks with almost 10,000 nails: An installation for the Swiss corona deaths in St.Gallen

2000 wooden blocks with almost 10,000 nails: An installation for the Swiss corona deaths in St.Gallen

Pastor Birke Müller has started a so-called nail remembrance project as a souvenir of the 9,948 corona deaths in Switzerland. The end result will be exhibited for the first time on Sunday, April 25th - alongside a memorial service in the Holy Cross Church.

For many, corona means having to die alone - in an intensive care unit, without a visit. In order to honor these “secret dead”, Pastor Birke Müller started a so-called nail memorial project. People from the region have contributed to this in the past few weeks. The end result will be exhibited for the first time on Sunday, April 25th in the Reformed Church of the Holy Cross in St.Gallen. In addition, the nails that stand for every person who died with Corona and the resulting installation will be a topic at the memorial service this weekend.

How did you come up with the idea of ​​creating a nail memory project?

Birch Müller: I saw on the Internet that a youth deacon from Germany, Marios Pergialis, had the idea of ​​hammering a nail into a wooden block for every corona death, and thought it was fitting. In my opinion, it is a good opportunity to do something for the “secretive dead”, to pay attention to them, not to forget them as a society.

How did you implement the project?

We hammered nails of five different lengths into small wooden blocks, reminding of the five stigmata of Christ - and thus of his suffering and pain. The cross, a place of great pain, is at the same time a symbol that God opposes it with his love. And hope gives us "God goes first", as it says in the Old Testament. Our corona dead are carried by God's all-embracing love in a being that begins with leaving our world.

How did you organize the project?

The project was presented to the church council and the Tablat colleagues were involved. Then we gained Peter Oberholzer from the Catholic part of the community in the neighborhood. And mesmer. Agreements and clarifications followed. The main thing was where we could get wooden blocks and nails in this large quantity and then store them. We also organized advertising. All in all it was probably a workload of five days.

Who was all involved?

Children, the confirmands of the tablet and individual adults took part. Some of them really nailed a lot of blocks. Others simply hammered in a few nails after the service.

What did you hope for from the project?

I wanted to create an offer for people who are mourning a relative who has died of Covid. This topic, which has occupied me again and again, has to be translated into action, to become active - in a time when a lot is not possible and always stays with yourself.

Are you satisfied with the end result?

I had imagined that maybe even more people would be attracted to the idea. At some church locations the project received almost no response, at other locations it did. Personally, I found nailing very meditative, giving peace and space for reflection. I would have liked to have had more time for hammering nails personally.

But in the end, almost 2,000 wooden blocks with almost 10,000 nails came together. A nail for each of the 9,948 corona deaths. I am grateful for that.

Note: The finished installation will be on display in the Heiligkreuzkirche from Sunday, April 25th, at 3pm to Thursday, April 29th, at 5pm and from Sunday, May 9th, at 3pm to Sunday, May 16, at 5pm. The memorial service will take place on Sunday, April 25th at 6.30 p.m.