In the David Suchet Poirot series, in the movie Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the detective orders Brown Windsor Soup, not knowing what it is, on the train to the country. When the plain bowl arrives, he pushes his spoon through it sadly, and questions the steward, “It doesn’t look very … delicieux?” The steward answers, “Well, sir, it is Brown Windsor Soup.” I thought of that when we first saw the Skt. Annenkirche in Annaberg-Buchholz, in the heart of the Erzgebirge in Saxony.

The church is massive. I couldn’t fit all of it into the iPhone, try as I might. That tower is massive—I can think of no other word. We did not ascend that tower, no, no; it is higher than it looks, since the base is so … massive. From the front of the church it’s obvious that some work had been done on it and perhaps has begun to be un-done. In the former East Germany, who knows how it was used or misused, let alone what may have befallen it in the war.

But still, whatever is going on with the windows and however parts of it may have been covered or uncovered, I slowly began to admire the audacity of this church. This is not delicieux architecture, but this huge edifice, on the top of a mountain, holding its place on a steep downward street and declaring itself to the marketplace below and for miles around, is admirable.

That entrance, from afar, looks like a gaping hole blasted into a cliff, but approach it and it turns itself inside out. Instead of a detonation into, it is, up close, a burst out of, as if there was something inside that had to get out, something so important the explosion hewed itself into the rock. In the center of mining country, this began to make sense. Inside, the pews face each other from either side of the center aisle. One side looks at the preacher. The other side looks at the crucified Christ. The pulpit, in the middle of the nave, looks, almost at eye-level, right at the crucifix, a constant and unchanging sermon to anyone who would dare give a sermon.

It may not be delicieux to someone on vacation riding into the country, but it seems to me that this church was built by people who knew what they were about.