|Rooster on top of Dom Cathedral|
I couldn't recall ever seeing a rooster on top of a steeple. On doing more research, I was wrong to think that other countries don't have these on steeples. I found out that's it's common in European countries to see roosters on top of Lutheran churches.
|Our Lady of Sorrows Church|
The more common cross on the top of a steeple is found on Catholic churches in Europe. We have a couple of them in Old Town Riga as well. And, some Catholic churches in Europe have roosters sitting on top of crosses.
So, the question popping into my head is why a rooster? After looking at several sources, it seems like there are three reasons for this steeple top. Almost every site mentioned the story of Peter denying Jesus three times "before the rooster crows." It seems that the rooster is then the defender against evil. It scares away the devil.
|St. Peter's Lutheran Church|
The rooster is a Christian symbol of watchfulness and vigilance. The rooster crows to wake us up to be vigilant during the entire day. Also, the rooster can be a warning to not fall into sin like Peter did in his denial of Jesus.
|St. John's Lutheran Church|
The most practical reason for the roosters in Riga is because they also serve as a weathervane. The beak of the roosters always point into the wind. In a seaport such as Riga, that was a very important piece of information needed to sail a ship. When the sailors looked at the church steeples then, they would immediately know which way the wind was blowing.
|St. Jacob's Catholic Church|
Riga converted to Lutheranism very early after the Reformation, so many of the churches in the Old Town today became Lutheran in the early 1500s. St. Jacob's is an example of that. It must have put the rooster on the steeple when it was used by the Lutheran church. Later on, the church was restored to its Catholic origins, however the steeple top stayed as it was - a rooster.
|Old rooster from Dom Cathedral|
St. Peter's has their seventh rooster on their steeple. Several others were destroyed by storms or fires over the hundreds of years of their existence. The sixth was taken out by a WWII bomb in 1941.
It's not so easy being a rooster high up on a perch.
Information taken from Concordia-memories.org
I was looking for an answer as to why nearly all the churches I encountered in Estonia had roosters instead of crosses on their towers. This shined some light on the issue, thank you.ReplyDelete