Campo Santo Teutonico

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The entire complex, looking south from St. Peter's Basilica
The Campo Santo Teutonico seen from the dome of St. Peter's Basilica

Campo Santo Teutonico (officially Campo Santo dei Teutonici e dei Fiamminghi - cemetery of the Germans and Flemings , also written Camposanto Teutonico ) is the name of the "German cemetery" and the associated buildings in Rome . The Lateran Treaty of 1929 made the area an extra-territorial possession of the Holy See . The cemetery is not part of the Vatican City , but is on Italian territory , but is only accessible via Vatican territory.

In addition to the completely walled burial ground located on the grounds of the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà , the seat of the Confraternity of pain liable Lady ( Mater Dolorosa ) of the German and Flemish, the Pontifical College Collegio Teutonico Santa Maria in Campo Santo and the Roman Institute of the Görres Society .

Because of its historical roots, the term "Teutonico" includes not only today's Germans ( Italian tedeschi , singular tedesco ), but all who live in the historical German cultural area, including Austrians , South Tyroleans , Alsatians , German-Swiss , Liechtensteiners , Luxembourgers and German-speaking Belgians ; "Fiamminghi" includes the Flemings and the Dutch .


The area of ​​the cemetery seen from the entrance

On the site of the current cemetery, which in the early Middle Ages extended much further north, was probably the Circus of Caligula and Nero during the Roman Empire , in which, according to the writings of Tacitus, hundreds died as martyrs during the persecution of Christians - according to tradition, too the apostle Peter .

Insecure foundation

Possible founder: Fulrad

The already existing xenodochia and diaconia as social institutions in Rome were suitable to provide for pilgrims who stayed for a short time in the city and at the tombs of the apostles, but not “long-term pilgrims” who had settled at the destination of their pilgrimage. For this purpose, in Debra J. Birch's opinion, four scholae peregrinorum were created that were founded around St. Peter's Church : the schola saxonum , the schola langobardorum , the schola frisiorum and the schola francorum . They were located near St. Peter's Church, but outside the city wall. It was only after the Saracen storm in 846 that they were also protected by a wall and were henceforth part of the city of Leo . Albrecht Weiland characterizes the scholae as pilgrims' colonies, which are grouped around a church as separate settlements surrounded by a wall.

They were created in the course of the 8th century; an exact date is difficult due to the lack of exact sources . A - albeit forged - document states that Charlemagne founded the schola on December 22nd, 797. In his essay on Charlemagne and the schola, Rudolf Schieffer identifies the year 787 as the most likely founding date: In the description of the life of Pope Leo III. The schola already exists in 799 and a Würzburg manuscript from the 9th century confirms Charlemagne as the founder. Schieffer concludes from this that the foundation must have taken place on one of Charles' three previous trips to Rome in 774, 781 or 787. He chose the last of these three possible dates because Charles' confidante, Abbot Fulrad , was given a "hospitale" near St. Peter in 757, the donation was renewed in 781 and Fulrad died in 784. Schieffer now accepts the "hospitale" Fulrads as the forerunner of the schola francorum, which was "founded" as a schola of the Franks in a kind of ratification act when Charles first visited Rome after Fulrad's death.

Flowering in the 9th century

You will probably never be able to obtain final certainty about the establishment, but the further development of the schola is better documented. The scholae peregrinorum were equipped with a hospital for the reception of strangers, in which the sick could also be cared for, a church for the celebration of services and funeral masses, and a cemetery for the burial of the dead. It is not yet clear whether all three components were present in all four scholae, but this is very likely.

The cemetery

If you look at the falsified founding deed (even if the deed is an objective falsification, this does not yet mean that the content it has referred to must be relegated to the realm of fable. Schieffer assumes that the schola clerics may have lost a real document during the Saracen storm in 846 one can conclude from this that all components were present in the area of ​​the schola francorum: It says that Pope Leo built the Salvator Church near St. Peter's Church and gave it to Charlemagne. The purpose of the schola is to ensure a proper burial for the "ultramontanes" and to serve pilgrims from Francia, Aguittania and Gallia, the three parts of Charles' empire. We cannot find anything precise from the sources about the exact structure of the service to the pilgrims and the dead and the question of whether other poor and sick people were cared for, etc.

In order to follow the further development of the schola, one is often dependent on assumptions and conclusions from the relatively sparse surviving sources. Birch speaks of the fact that the scholae attained a considerable size and were more settled, rural pilgrimage communities than just a complex with a church, hospital and cemetery. There is still a flourishing pilgrimage for the scholae in the 9th century, after which reports are thinner. A papal bull is known from the year 854 , which slams the Salvatorkirche to the Martinskloster and thereby mediates the schola clergy. Schieffer dates the forged founding document to the two decades around the turn of the millennium, Birch a little later to the period between 1031 and 1053, so the schola must have been in operation at this time as well, as in the second half of the 11th century.

Uncertain further development

The schola becomes a theme again in two papal bulls . 1053 confirms Leo IX. Martinskloster his property and assigns funeral duties to the scholae. The Frankenschola should bury the pilgrims from the area north of the Alps, the Sachsenschola the pilgrims from England and the Langobardenschola the pilgrims from the Italian peninsula. Finally, Gregory VII once again referred to the schola francorum when in 1081 he decreed that the cash benefits promised in the founding document of the schola from the northern Alpine region should be used for the general benefit of the Apostolic See .

It is not clear to what extent these cash benefits actually benefited the schola before, but this deprivation of the financial base could have been the beginning of the schola's decline. The last time the schola appears indirectly in 1141; This year the founding deed is copied, so it can be assumed that there was still activity in the schola at that time. The last testimony that the church, schola and cemetery sees as one unit is the bull of Pope Innocent VI. from the year 1360, in which, as in 1053, Pope Leo's bull of 854 is confirmed.

The walls of the complex
The cemetery

Decline and re-establishment

Soon after the last news about the schola francorum complex from 1360, the property began to decline. Except for a note in the Censuali of the chapter of St. Peter from 1390, according to which the church was very neglected, the tradition does not start again until the middle of the 15th century.

Here the year 1454 becomes significant, because we learn from a bull by Nikolaus V from Gottfried von Waya, who had the Salvator Church rebuilt at his own expense until 1452. In the same year, 1454, the institutionalized history of today's Campo Santo begins with the founding of the “ Brotherhood of souls and poor Christians”. On December 29, 1454, the German-born Petrus Licht, Bartholomäus Dinstman and Johannes Lichtenfelser met in the area of ​​the former schola and founded the brotherhood together with nine other German-speaking curials .

In the founding deed, they record the immediate prehistory of the area of ​​the former schola in detail: Friedrich Frid from Magdeburg built a small house in the cemetery with his own resources and assumed the function of grave digger. From the remains of the dilapidated hospital, which had served to support the poor and pilgrims, he and other Germans also rebuilt a small Lady Chapel, the so-called "secunda capella", around 1440. In addition, the auxiliary bishop Johannes Goldener stood out on the spiritual side, who initiated private litigation processions on the schola area as early as 1450.

The successful establishment of the Campo Santo Brotherhood was not enough. In the next decades some resistance had to be overcome before the brotherhood was actually established and mistress of the Campo Santo. The legal situation in the area of ​​Campo Santo was more than complicated: the old Salvatorkirche still existed, next to it was the already mentioned Marienkapelle built by Frid in the 1440s. In place of older buildings, Pope Eugene IV built a women's hospital with a staff house after his return to Rome in 1443. After all, a small church, the "prima ecclesia", which was consecrated to St. Gregory, had stood in the actual cemetery since around 1446.

The Salvatorkirche entered into a general competition with the other institutions for the responsibilities for funerals and pastoral care on the Campo Santo. The Lady Chapel was run by the brotherhood and their chaplain. The women's hospital (to which an alms house was added around 1455) was subordinate to a subprioress who placed Santo Spirito in Sassia , and the prima ecclesia and the actual cemetery remained under the jurisdiction of the chapter of St. Peter.

Establishment of the brotherhood

Campo Santo Teutonico (in the center of the picture in the very front, to the left of the square at the front entrance gate, immediately behind the wall) and St. Peter's Basilica 1593

The first decades, to be precise: until 1513, the Brotherhood of Campo Santo was now trying to replace the various rights and to create the capacities for itself to do justice to its self-chosen tasks: It was firstly against Santo Spirito to enforce that the brotherhood could take over the care of the poor and sick on the Campo Santo and secondly against the chapter of St. Peter that the responsibility for the cemetery and the church was transferred to the brotherhood.

In 1472 the brotherhood succeeded in acquiring the rights to Santo Spirito, but no hospital is mentioned until 1493. It is assumed that during this time the Brotherhood accommodated and supported those in need in other hospitals in the city. It was not until 1511 that the sources speak of a new building of their own hospital in the area of ​​Campo Santo.

It took two years longer before the brotherhood was able to carry out its spiritual goals on its own in addition to the benevolent ones. After a conflict with Santo Spirito also arose over Frid's Marienkapelle, the brotherhood decided to build its own church in 1476, which soon came to a standstill. Only after Pope Alexander VI. In 1495 had issued a letter of indulgence for supporters of the construction, the new building made rapid progress. In 1500 the Marienkapelle was demolished and the new (still existing) church consecrated. In 1513 the rights of the chapter of St. Peter were finally replaced.

After that, the Campo Santo quickly became very attractive as a burial place because of its proximity to the tomb of the Apostle Peter and the brotherhood also became a major integrative factor in the German community in Rome.

Modern times

Vatican, Campo Santo Teutonico

The Arch Brotherhood, which has been known as the Arch Brotherhood of the Sorrowful Mother of God of the Germans and Flemings since 1576 , is a member association under canon law and the owner of the Campo Santo. Catholics with German and Flemish mother tongues who have their place of residence in Rome or in its immediate vicinity, clergy and lay people, women and men (maximum age at entry 60) can become members. The Arch Brotherhood has a board of directors made up of the Rector, Camerlengo, Vizecamerlengo and four other members. Statutes approved by the Holy See regulate membership and executive offices as well as the election of offices every three years. They also describe the duties and rights of the members. Members have free access to the cemetery grounds. Under certain conditions, you have the right to be buried in the cemetery and you can also purchase a grave. Candidates are recruited from members of the Arch Brotherhood. The board decides on the admission. A probationary year is mandatory and ends with a solemn admission on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th). Men then receive the black "Sacco", women a medal on the ribbon.

From 1872 Anton de Waal officiated as Vice Rector and from 1873 as Rector of the Campo Santo Teutonico. He gave the Arch Brotherhood a new statute and had the church and cemetery renovated. In 1876 he redesigned the brotherhood house into the priests' college, which still exists today, and began to build a special library and the collection of early Christian art.

The Görres Society was added in 1887 and still operates the Roman Institute of the Görres Society there . Görres-Institut and Kolleg jointly maintain the library of the Campo Santo Teutonico and the archives of the Archbrotherhood and the Priestly College. In addition, they jointly publish the Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history , founded in 1887 .

Since the 20th century

In March 2019, after an anonymous tip , relatives of Emanuela Orlandi, who had been missing since 1983, asked for two graves to be opened on Campo Santo Teutonico to check whether there were remains of Emanuela Orlandi. During the search, the graves in question were found to be empty, but two entrances to the priests' college, closed with stone round lids, which are ossuaries with second-buried bones, were found. According to the Vatican, all bones came from before the end of the 19th century.

The National Foundation

The "National Foundation" of Campo Santo Teutonico is often misleadingly spoken of, a term introduced by the older historiography of the house (especially Anton de Waal ), which means nothing other than "National Foundation". Such a national foundation is anachronistically moved to the 8th century. Only the foundation of the Brotherhood of the Sorrowful Mother of God at the cemetery of the Germans and Flemings in the middle of the 15th century is historically guaranteed. After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the Emperor of Austria was the secular protector of the Campo Santo Teutonico. With the fall of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918, this protectorate ended, but the Austrian Federal President is still portrayed as a secular head. In the succession of the imperial protectorate, the German and Austrian ambassadors to the Holy See still belong to the board of directors of the arch brotherhood by virtue of their office (as "born members"). The Campo Santo Teutonico is privately owned by the Arch Brotherhood. There are no claims of the Republic of Austria or the Federal Republic of Germany on him. It is located on extra-territorial territory of Italy and is not on Vatican territory, but received extra-territoriality in 1929 with the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty and the creation of the Vatican State. Until the statutes came into force in 2003, the Campo Santo Teutonico also had a spiritual protector, usually a cardinal of the curia. Since then, the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference has been the patron of the Arch Brotherhood. The Rector of the Arch Brotherhood is appointed by the Pope's General Vicar for the Vatican City in agreement with the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education for a period of six years at the suggestion of the chairman of the German Bishops 'Conference after consultation with the chairman of the Austrian Bishops' Conference and the board of the Arch Brotherhood .


Pontificio Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria in Campo Santo

In 1876 a priestly college ( Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria in Campo Santo ) was founded on the site , where priests and priestly candidates from German-speaking countries live and study. The building was built in 1962–1966 by the architect Silvio Galizia . During the excavation and foundation, an unusually strong inflow of groundwater from the Vatican hill was found, and medieval building remains were discovered, including an ossuary of 50 m 3 . In addition, due to the thick layer of cultural debris, the foundation pillars had to be sunk to an average depth of 26 m and in individual cases up to 31 m. The new college was inaugurated on May 8, 1966. In March 2010 Pope Benedict XVI. the priestly college on the occasion of the 50th priestly jubilee of the rector of the college Erwin Gatz with the apostolic constitution Perantiquis iam temporibus to the status of a papal college ( Pontificio Collegio ). Since December 8, 2010, Hans-Peter Fischer has been director of the Campo Santo Teutonico.

Alongside the Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria dell'Anima, founded in 1859, the college is the second German-language priest college in Rome.

Since 1920 the sisters of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Love ("Mallinckrodt Sisters") worked in Campo Santo. In 2013 the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer ("Niederbronn Sisters") took over the successor.

Campo Santo Teutonico

The cemetery

From the beginning, the cemetery was intended for every pilgrim from the Holy Roman Empire who could not return home from the pilgrimage. German and German-born clergy make up another large proportion. In the course of time, however, some celebrities who lived and died in Rome were also buried on the Campo Santo . Today all members of the Arch Brotherhood and some religious communities of German origin have the right to bury. Around 1400 names have been given in the cemetery since the 15th century.

Among others, the artists Joseph Anton Koch , Wilhelm Achtermann and Johann Martin von Rohden , the theologian Anton de Waal , the Saarland ethnologist P.  Michael Schulien SVD , the missionary priest and bishop Johann Baptist von Anzer SVD, the Christian archaeologist Joseph Wilpert , the Archaeologists Ludwig Curtius and Engelbert Kirschbaum SJ, the archaeologist Hermine Speier , the archaeologist and numismatist Sibylle Mertens-Schaaffhausen , the church historian Eva-Maria Jung-Inglessis , the writers Stefan Andres and Johannes Urzidil and the rector of the German priestly college Santa Maria dell'Anima and Titular Bishop of Aela Alois Hudal and the religious sister Pascalina Lehnert , the former housekeeper Pope Pius XII, are buried. Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein , the life companion of the composer Franz Liszt , Prince Georg of Bavaria and Baron Edmund Raitz von Frentz come from the German nobility . The bones of the theologian and politician Ludwig Kaas , who was first buried here in 1952, were in 1957 at the request of Pius XII. transferred to the Vatican Grottoes because of his services to the excavations under St. Peter . The Austrian painter Gebhard Flatz set an epitaph on the Campo Santo Teutonico for his wife Marie Felicitas Freiin von Foullon-Norbeck, who died early.

In the small cemetery chapel in the southeast corner of the cemetery some of the older grave slabs are kept, including the oldest preserved in the cemetery, for Junker Hans III. zu Rodenstein , who died in Rome in the holy year 1500.

Today the cemetery is a green oasis and popular with German employees of the curia for breaks. The later Pope Benedict XVI. stopped by frequently during his time as leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith . The portal from Campo Santo to the church, commissioned by the then President of the Federal Republic of Germany Theodor Heuss and created by the sculptor Elmar Hillebrand , was inaugurated in 1959.

The church of Santa Maria della Pietà

The church of Santa Maria della Pietà , consecrated in 1501, was built in a simple Renaissance style and decorated in the 17th century in the Baroque style with statues and ceiling frescoes . Due to the decline of the German population in Rome, the church fell into disrepair for a long time and was only restored at the end of the 19th century and decorated with new colored windows. From 1972 to 1975 it was extensively restored. Cardinal Ratzinger regularly celebrated early mass on Thursdays in the church before he was elected Pope.

The church has an approximately square floor plan of 23.5 x 21.6 m. Its interior is divided into nine fields, which are arranged around a central crossing and divided by pillars connected by arcades. In the south the church has a larger apse , in the north only a hinted one . The crossing makes up about half of the total space, so the side areas are much smaller, the corner fields the smallest. The ceiling is designed as a cross vault . Originally both corner fields on the south side were designed as side chapels, today the so-called Swiss chapel, which is dedicated to the Swiss Guard, is only in the south-east corner . It was used by the Swiss Guard for worship and as a burial place for the captains and their families, of which numerous grave slabs on the ground bear witness.


Access to Campo Santo Teutonico through the Vatican City is possible daily from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and to church services. Visitors must report to the Swiss guardsmen at the gate south of St. Peter's Basilica between the colonnades and the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio and request access to the German Cemetery or Campo Santo Teutonico in German .

Holy Mass is celebrated in German on Sundays at 9 a.m. and Monday to Saturday at 7 a.m. (Wednesdays in Latin, Saturdays in Italian). For German-speaking groups of pilgrims, there is the possibility of celebrating a divine service in Santa Maria della Pietà with their accompanying clergyman after prior registration with the Arch Brotherhood .


  • Hans-Peter Fischer , Albrecht Weiland (ed.): The Campo Santo Teutonico - a German-speaking exclave in the Vatican. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-7954-3149-5 .
  • Erwin Gatz : One Hundred Years of the German Priest College at Campo Santo Teutonico, 1876–1976 . Herder, Freiburg 1977.
  • Erwin Gatz (ed.): 1200 years of Campo Santo Teutonico. A festive report . Rome 1988.
  • Erwin Gatz, Albrecht Weiland: The Campo Santo Teutonico near St. Peter in Rome 1975-2010. An activity report. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-7954-2372-8 .
  • Erwin Gatz, Albrecht Weiland: The Campo Santo Teutonico Rome (= Small Art Guide, Volume 100). 4th edition, Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2006, ISBN 978-3-7954-4736-6 .
  • Nikolaus Grass : Camposanto Teutonico privileges for Austria. A contribution to the religious culture in the era of Emperor Maximilian I . In: Walter Höflechner u. a. (Ed.): Domus Austriae. Commemoration for Hermann Wiesflecker on his 70th birthday . Graz 1983, pp. 137-158.
  • Stefan Heid : Terror and comfort - Michelangelo and the altar art at Campo Santo Teutonico . In: A. Hindrichs / Ch. Liermann Traniello (ed.): From the presence of eternity, Festschrift for Bernd Roeck . Loveno di Menaggio 2019, pp. 113–125.
  • Stefan Heid , Michael Matheus (Ed.): Places of Refuge and Personal Networks. The Campo Santo Teutonico and the Vatican 1933–1955 (= Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history . Supplementary volume 63), Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau et al. 2015, ISBN 978-3-451-30930-4 .
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  • Rudolf Schieffer : Charlemagne, the schola Francorum and the churches of foreigners in Rome . In: Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history , Volume 93 (1998), pp. 20–37.
  • Aloys Schmidt : The archive of the Campo Santo Teutonico. Along with a historical introduction . Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 1967.
  • Knut Schulz : The beginnings of the brotherhood of Campo Santo Teutonico (up to the first quarter of the 16th century) . In: Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history Volume 93 (1998), pp. 38–61.
  • Andreas Tönnesmann , Ursula Fischer Pace: Santa Maria della Pietà. The Church of the Campo Santo Teutonico . Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 1988.
  • Anton de Waal: The Campo Santo of the Germans in Rome. History of the national foundation, on the eleven centenary of its establishment by Charlemagne . Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 1896.
  • Albrecht Weiland : Hundred years of excavations at Campo Santo Teutonico in Rome (1873–1972) . In: Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history , Volume 93 (1998), pp. 3-19.
  • Albrecht Weiland: The Campo Santo Teutonico in Rome and its grave monuments . Herder, Rome / Freiburg im Breisgau / Vienna 1988, ISBN 3-451-20882-2 .
  • Albrecht Weiland: The Campo Santo Teutonico. A German cemetery in the Vatican. In: Der Herold , Volume 13, Issue 6 (1991), pp. 178-189.

Web links

Commons : Campo Santo Teutonico  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Santa Maria della Pietà  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Debra J. Birch: Pilgrimage to Rome in the Middle Ages. Continuity and Change. Woodbridge 1998, pp.
  2. Albrecht Weiland:?.
  3. a b Campo Santo Teutonico. In: Retrieved April 19, 2016 .
  4. Julius Müller-Meiningen: Missing case in the Vatican: family requests opening of the grave. Augsburger Allgemeine from March 4, 2019
  5. ↑ The Orlandi case: family asks Vatican for new investigations. Vatican News of March 4, 2019
  6. Didn't miss Emanuela in the princess grave. Tagesschau from July 11, 2019
  7. Surprising bone find in the Vatican. Süddeutsche Zeitung of July 13, 2019
  8. New search for missing student Emanuela Orlandi in the Vatican. from July 20, 2019
  9. ^ Bone finds in the Vatican with no reference to Emanuela Orlandi. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger from July 28, 2019
  10. ^ Rainer Stephan: Instructions for use for the Vatican . e-book, section Access forbidden - but not for all : Piper Verlag Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-492-95811-0 , accessed February 16, 2020.
  11. a b Weiland, Fischer: Campo Santo. Pp. 35-36.
  12. Weiland, Fischer: Campo Santo. P. 10.
  13. ^ Gatz, Erwin .: Hundred Years of German Priestly College at Campo Santo Teutonico: 1876–1976: Contribution to its history . Herder, 1977, ISBN 3-451-17929-6 .
  14. Benedictus XVI: Const. Apost. Perantiquis iam temporibus , AAS 102 (2010), n.3 , p. 140
  15. message of 27 July 2010 ( Memento of 13 January 2013 Web archive )
  16. ^ Gudrun Sailer: German sisters are leaving Campo Santo Teutonico. (No longer available online.) In:, archived from the original on December 2, 2013 ; Retrieved April 19, 2016 .
  17. ^ Albrecht Weiland: The Campo Santo Teutonico in Rome and its grave monuments. Volume I , Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1988, ISBN 3-451-20882-2 , p. 275 f.
  18. Erwin Gatz / Albrecht Weiland: Campo Santo Teutonico Rome , Schnell Kunstführer, p. 28.
  19. ^ Georg Burkhard: Invitation to Rome: St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Church. In:, accessed on April 19, 2016 .
  20. Andreas Tönnemann: The architecture of the church of Campo Santo Teutonico in Rome . Herder, 1988, ISBN 3-451-20882-2 .

Coordinates: 41 ° 54 ′ 4.7 "  N , 12 ° 27 ′ 16.4"  E