Clemens, son of sexton Wirg, has drowned, but his funeral can’t be planned because the corpse is missing. One could already hold the office for the dead. That is what the dean, siblings and friends want.
Only the father doesn’t want to accept the requiem mass being read. He is possessed by desperation, for he knows that Clemens has no hope for eternal salvation and will go to hell. Clemens had renounced his faith, had spit out and trodden on his consecrated host. In a case like this, the church can neither allow a burial nor a requiem mass. And what would a requiem mass even be good for if the soul is in hell already? It would merely be ceremonial and sacrilegious, an insult to God. The sexton won’t accept that.
Like this, a fight begins with roles reversed: the representative of the church wants to grant a requiem mass, the deceased’s father wants to prevent it by any means possible, resulting in his dismissal from the church.
Then Clemens reappears. Far from being dead, he had only staged the swimming accident to be able to run off in peace. But when the sexton wants to reproach him, Clemens’ rage against his father turns into rage against the church: “Who has been oppressing my father with decrees. His whole life he has been dealing with the terror of the church. First, you trained him in dogmatism, and then you punished him for his obedience.” In his rage, Clemens strangles the dean. Now there is a corpse, now a requiem mass can be held – a requiem mass for the church itself.
Requiem für die Kirche
Zeitgenössisches Melodrama in 8 Bildern
1 D, 9 H, 1 Dek
UA: 18.10.1971 · Städtische Bühnen, Augsburg · Directed by: Dieter Braun