Gold for Iron

March 20, 2021

"It is the law of all servants and ministers of Christ to follow their Master."


In 1813, Frederick III, the King of Prussia, was at war with Napoleon Bonaparte. At stake was independence from the French empire. Frederick was not only faced with fighting the imperial army but he was at the same time trying to build an independent nation. The war proved costly and Prussia's finances were stretched to their limits.

Responding to this crisis, Princess Marianne of Hesse-Homburg, donated all her gold jewelry to the state treasury. This prompted the women of Prussia to respond in kind. It is said that every woman, excepting perhaps the poorest of peasants, donated their gold and silver jewelry to be melted down in service to their country.

In exchange the women were given cast iron jewelry that came to be seen as highly prized tokens of gratitude from their king. The iron jewelry became a visible proof that the women had sacrificed personal splendor, a self denial of beautiful adornment, all for their king and their country. It was not long before it was considered unfashionable to wear any other adornment than iron..

The wars of 1813 established the foundation of what would become the modern state of Germany, and the iron jewelry became the basis for the Order of the Iron Cross. Members of the order wore no ornaments other than an iron cross for all to see.

Christians who fully embrace their faith, likewise exchange the trappings of their former lives for a cross, all in service to their King.

But as Christians we do not practice self denial for its own sake. Self denial and sacrifice are a help toward greater charity. We give up the trappings of our earthly lives in order to use those resources to help others in need. We sacrifice a lower order of life that we may embrace a higher.

This is the law of self denial which Jesus continually calls us to. It is the law of all servants and ministers of Christ to follow their Master. To be with Jesus and share in His glory it is necessary to follow after Him in the way of the cross.

Such servants as these the Father will honor and crown.

Saint Paul compared such sacrifice and self denial with an athlete in training. In his first letter to the Corinthians he wrote:

“Do you not know that, of those who run in a race, all of them, certainly, are runners, but only one achieves the prize. Similarly, you must run, so that you may achieve. And one who competes in a contest abstains from all things. And they do this, of course, so that they may achieve a corruptible crown. But we do this, so that we may achieve what is incorruptible. (1Cor9:24-25)

Jesus shows us the only way to salvation. The one who saves His life will lose it. The one who loses it for God’s sake will save it. That is the wisdom Jesus leaves us, and the challenge we are faced with. Do we save our lives for ourselves only to lose it, or do we die to self for the sake of another and have our lives restored to us by God?

Pax Vobiscum
5th Sunday of Lent


© Lawrence Klimecki

Purchase fine art prints by Deacon Lawrence here.

Deacon Lawrence draws on ancient Christian tradition to create new contemporary art that seeks to connect the physical and the spiritual.. For more information on original art, prints and commissions, Please visit 

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith



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