The Käthelstein Rock near Annaberg

A long time ago, a foreman named Günzer lived in the village of Frohnau near Annaberg. This foreman was a devout and honest man. Once, during the winter, he was walking back from his daily labors in the mine to his home, and passed through the middle of the forest. Suddenly, a man stepped out of the undergrowth and approached him. He pleaded to be allowed to spend the night at the foreman’s house, for he did not dare search for his own path any further in the deep snow and the dark of the night. While the foreman did not care for either the voice or the appearance of the stranger, he still had pity for him and thus agreed to his wish.

They therefore strode towards the village together in silence. When they had reached the house of Günzer, his daughter Katharina opened the door. But then she started to wail terribly when she beheld the strange guest, and dropped the lamp she had been carrying out of fright. Only after the distraught father had lit the lantern again, and revived his daughter (who had fallen unconscious), did he notice that the stranger had vanished. He thus hurriedly asked his daughter why she had been so frightened. But she answered that this man had been the Devil who wanted to carry her away as his bride. For she had dreamed the previous night that she was lying in the forest. And then a man approached her who looked just like the now-vanished stranger. He had called her his bride, kissed her, and then, as he walked away, revealed himself as the Devil by his horns, tail, and horse’s foot. Old Günzer then was about to console her when he saw a sheet of paper lying on the table. On it was written: “In nine months I will knock at the window at midnight, and take my bride away!” Now there was no longer any doubt that the dream had come true.

Father and daughter then spent the nine weeks in fear and worry. While they prayed from mornings to evenings and went to the Eucharist, a little voice told them that the Evil One would not be deterred that easily. And, indeed, this was the case. When the midnight hour of the last day of this deadline had passed, there was a knock on the window, and a terrible voice called out: “Bride outside! Bride outside!” But Günzer loudly called upon God for aid, and the Godbewithus vanished under thunder and lightning with the words: “Nine more days, and then you shall be my bride. Otherwise, your hut shall be ablaze!”

Thus, nine further days passed under fear and worry, and, again, the dreaded midnight hour approached. With the twelfth strike of the clock, there was a knock on the window and a shout: “Out with the bride, or the house will burn!” But the old Günzer wrapped his arms around his insensible daughter: “By the wounds of Christ, begone from us, Satanas!” Then the Devil roared: “Bride, the house is ablaze. You have nine further weeks, and if you are not mine by this date, then your father shall come to a miserable end!” With these words he vanished, yet the entire house was ablaze. Only with the greatest efforts were they able to survive.

They first sought shelter with relatives. But soon, compassionate people built them a new hut on the outskirts of the forest, for their former hut had been turned into a stinking sulphur pit. But their fears did not abate. Once again, the ninth week approached, when Käthchen was overcome by sleep during broad daylight. She dreamed that the Devil and his entourage peered into her window and wanted to abduct her into his hellish residence. When she rose up from her sleep with a frightful scream, the door opened and an angel appeared. He was illuminated by a rose-like light, floated into the house, carried a crucifix high up in his hand, waved to her, and spoke: “Come with me, I will bring you peace!”

He then led her right through the forest on a path that was wholly unknown to her until they reached a rock formation. The rock opened up when the angel touched it with his crucifix. Now, they stepped through a gap into the rock until they reached a tall gate which shone like silver. Seven old men with pointed caps and long beards were sitting in front of the gate. But, when they saw the crucifix, they bowed deeply, and the small boy and the maiden stepped into a chamber with a high ceiling which was adorned by a multitude of gemstones, and received its light from their shine. In this chamber, a beautiful woman was lying on a splendid bed beneath a luxurious canopy. She was illuminated by a wreath of stars, and at her feet seven dwarves were kneeling in prayer.

When she beheld the angel, she asked what made him come here. But the angel told her of the dire threat to the unfortunate girl, and asked for her assistance. Then the Queen of the Mountains - for that was who she was - commanded one of the dwarves to bring her an urn made out of sardonyx from a crystal cupboard. She took a cross made out of sparkling diamonds out of it, and spoke: “Käthchen, carry this cross on your chest at all times, and the Evil One will not have any power over you!” Hearing these words, the dwarf took a rope of pearls from the urn, tied the cross to it, and hung it around her neck. Then he took Käthchen once again by the hand and led her back on the same path on which they had arrived. When he had opened the rock once more with the aid of the crucifix, he took his leave from her and told her that she should be troubled no longer, for she was under God’s protection.

When Käthchen arrived home, she encountered her father in the house, and told him what had occurred to her. She also showed him the cross as proof for the truth of her tale. Then he replied that something similar had occurred to him, for he had recovered a golden crucifix in the mining shaft near the ditch. When they examined it more closely so that they could find some kind of attribute by which they could identify its proper owner, they saw the name of the foreman engraved in it with the words: “Jesus will help the faithful.”

In this manner, they awaited the end of the week in good cheer, as well as the midnight hour they had dreaded so much before. Finally, midnight came, and the last strike of the clock was hardly over when there was a knocking on the window and a roar: “Out with the bride, out with the bride!” Then Käthel opened the window herself, and showed the Devil her shining cross. He retreated with terrible wailing, but first he shouted: “Käthchen, you are protected by the power of God. I have no power over you. But now it’s your turn, Günzer, to follow me into Hell! Come outside so that I can grab you!” But here, too, he had to retreat, for Günzer presented his golden crucifix.

However, this time he did not vanish as quietly as he had during their previous encounters. A terrible thunderstorm broke loose. A gale uprooted the strongest trees and shook the hut in its foundations. The small rivulet flowing out of the forest swelled to a raging stream, and threatened to wash the hut away. But as soon as the clocks struck one, everything became quiet again, and the silver light of the moon shone brightly between the clouds.

In this manner, Käthchen got rid of her infernal groom, and two years later she married a stout-hearted miner from Frohnau who had lost his heart to her quite some time ago. The mine manager gave this man the position of old Günzer, who now decided to retire and spend the rest of his life with his children. God gifted him with ten further years of life, and he had the joy of holding three grandchildren in his arms. But when God called him home, his Käthchen did not forget what fate he had shared with her, and how the Queen of the Mountain had given them splendid hospitality. Thus, she had her father buried at the spot at the rock where the angel had opened it, and subsequently she went there every day in order to pray for the succor of the dear, departed soul. She did this for long years, until she herself was old and grey.

However, one day, she did not return when he had gone out to pray on her father’s grave. And when her husband and her children went out to search for her, they only found her corpse. But then the angel cloaked in rose-like light stepped out of the rock, kissed the departed woman on her forehead, took off her diamond cross, and rose up to the heavens. The grieving husband then called on some of his comrades and broke a space for a grave into the rock. And when there was enough space to put the coffin into it, and the mourners were about to do just that, two angels descended, lifted the coffin from the bier, put it into the rock, and closed it again so artfully with a large block of stone that nobody could perceive where the opening had been. Since that time, the rock where Käthchen sleeps her eternal sleep is called the “Käthelstein” - “Käthel’s Rock”.

Source: Wrubel, F. Sammlung bergmännischer Sagen. 1883, p. 147ff.

Notes & Commentary: The Käthelstein Rock near Annaberg