Have you ever found yourself in a fix because you didn’t do the work assigned to you and instead, got swept away in having a good time? Then you would very well understand the predicament of the Aacheners who were tasked with building the Cathedral by the 1st Holy Roman Emperor Charlesmagne.
So as it happened, Charlesmagne had to go on a war, right after he commissioned the construction of the Aachen Cathedral. He allotted the funds and told the people of Aachen to complete the construction before he returned.
Now people being like people everywhere else, worked for a few days and then got relaxed about it. They partied away with all the money that was given to them for the construction of the cathedral. Then surprise surprise, one fine day a message from the emperor reached them that he is returning soon and is looking forward to see the cathedral. Panic everywhere because they knew they would lose their lives if the emperor finds what they did behind his back.
But since the story cannot end just like that, there comes a handsome man in all finery on a fine horse. He offers to pay for the construction in return for just one condition. The condition is that he would take the soul of the first one to enter the cathedral. Then the people realize that it’s the Devil for who else would demand a soul! The desperate people of the town, weighed their options. On one hand – the whole town is doomed and on the other – one soul. So of course, they made the deal with the Devil.
With the money in hand, they start working and the cathedral gets finished. It’s all grandiose and pretty as it was supposed to be
But who would go in first? Nobody wanted his soul to be taken by the devil. So they went to the wise man of the town. He pondered over it and found the loophole. The contract just said “a soul” and not “a human soul”. So the town people go to the forest and capture a wolf. I don’t know why they even went to this much effort – may be they felt guilty about the cheating and wanted to make the show of offering something more than a rooster or a goat!
Now the devil was waiting eagerly in the cathedral and as soon as the wolf was sent in, the Devil pounced on it and got its soul. But then he realized he’s been cheated! In anger, he opened the doors of the cathedral angrily and in the process, cut his thumb on the door knobs. The thumb is still embedded there, as you can feel if you put your fingers through the door knob on the right hand side if you are outside the church!
The Cathedral is very beautiful from inside too. Here’s a glimpse of a section with beautiful mosaic work.
So that was the story of the Aachen Cathedral. Hope you enjoyed it. When you are there, don’t forget to rub the paw of the wolf for luck and check the doorknob for the Devil’s thumb!