Gangolf Chapel (Neudenau)

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Gangolf Chapel in Neudenau

The Gangolf Chapel is a Romanesque church building near Neudenau in the Heilbronn district in northern Baden-Württemberg . The church, first mentioned in 1276, was the parish church of Deitingen , which was abandoned around 1600 . Since 1923 the tradition of the horse pilgrimage practiced there from the 14th to the early 19th century has been continued.


The church dedicated to St. Gangolf was mentioned for the first time as the parish church of the village of Deitingen in 1276 on the occasion of the sale of the church from the Amorbach monastery to the Wimpfen monastery , whereby the church changed from an independent parish church to a branch church of the parish church of St. Laurentius in Neudenau. The church was renewed around 1363, and in 1393 a second benefit was donated for the church's altar of Our Lady, which existed next to the Gangolf altar.

The town of Deitingen around the church came to the Archbishop of Mainz in 1359, was probably only partially inhabited in 1395 and probably already abandoned in 1409. The village was last mentioned in 1445.

It is believed that the horse pilgrimages to the Gangolf Chapel began in the 14th century. Church patron Gangolf is venerated as patron of springs and as patron of riders, horses and domestic cattle. Pilgrimages with horses coming from Mosbach and the custom of blessing horses are documented for 1497 and 1501. After the Thirty Years' War , pilgrimages to the Gangolf Chapel were very popular. In 1808 the pilgrimage ended for the time being. In 1864 the historical wall paintings of the church were rediscovered and the gallery was renewed, in 1891 the spire was renewed. The church was last restored in 1962.

The horse pilgrimages of modern times were re-established by the pastor Richard Aichele (1860–1948). Aichele was pastor in Neudenau from 1922, researched the historical pilgrimage and reintroduced the Gangolfsritt in 1923, which was further researched under his successor Fridolin Mayer (1877–1956), author of the Neudenau city chronicle from 1937, who was in office from 1927.


Church building

Gangolf Chapel in Neudenau, left in the foreground: spring and field pulpit

The chapel is east of Neudenau. The terrain rises to the north, while to the southwest it slopes down following a generous curve of the Jagst. The church, originally built in the Romanesque style, is surrounded by an old stone wall, which is opened to the south to a wide staircase and in the south-west of which there is a brick pulpit over a spring. The old rectory with farm buildings is located by the church.

The tower in the southwest of the building is probably the oldest part of the church and is dated after 1230 due to its structural details. It has three floors, which are separated by cornices around the outside, the bell chamber is on the third floor, and the masonry tent-roof-shaped tower spire was renewed in 1891. Access to the church is through the portal on the south facade of the basement of the tower, which is decorated with horseshoes as votive offerings . The oldest of the horseshoes attached to this and another door on the south wall of the nave date from the 15th century. The basement of the tower is spanned by a cross vault.

Oriented to the east, the nave and choir adjoin . The nave is 11.30 meters long and 10.80 meters wide and spanned by a flat wooden ceiling. The brickwork adjoining the southern tower facade, which, like the tower, is 1.30 meters thick, probably comes from the Romanesque original building, but the windows were redesigned during the renovation around 1363. The masonry in the north is thinner at 1.10 meters, therefore probably younger and gives evidence that the church was widened to the north in 1363. The wooden gallery , which took up a large part of the small nave, was pulled in around 1500 and renewed in 1864.

In the east of the building is the choir, which has the internal dimensions of 7 meters in length and 6.5 meters in width and is in turn spanned by a cross vault. The choir has a narrow two-part window at the top. To the south, the choir is open to the side choir, which was added in the 15th century. The side choir has two ogival tracery windows . The arched opening between the choir and the side choir was only opened later, which meant that some of the wall paintings there were lost. To the north of the choir, a small sacristy was added in the 15th century , over which an oratory was later installed, which forms a gallery on the north wall of the choir.


Depiction of the judge of the world in the choir vault, including scenes of martyrs

There are numerous historical wall paintings in the chancel and the side choir . The uniform painting of the choir was created around 1330, the other paintings up to 1500.

In the vaulted cap of the choir is the Last Judgment with the sword-armored judge of the world, flanked by John the Baptist, the Mother of God and angels with swords, the apostles led by Peter and Paul, a six-winged seraph, as well as the blessed in paradise and the damned cast by devils into the abyss of hell see. On the walls there are depictions of purgatory , the apostle James crowning two pilgrims, trumpet-blowing angels, the weighing of souls by the archangel Michael, and the dead rising from their graves.

In addition, an extensive cycle with various representations of martyrs from the Legenda aurea can be seen in the choir : the stoning of St. Stephen, the martyrdom of St. Lawrence on the glowing grate, the wheeling of St. George, the martyrdom of St. Victor between the Millstones, as well as the sufferings of the church patron Gangolf, pierced by javelins, the martyrdom of St. Corona, torn by two palm trees, the tearing of St. Blaise as well as several other depictions of martyrdom such as the blindness of St. Leodegar and only fragmentary preserved in the area of ​​the wall breakthrough to the side choir a representation of a saint that can no longer be clearly identified, which could probably be the evocation of St. Lucia.

The altar wall in the choir, divided by the window, shows the crucifixion of Jesus and Mary with the child and a saint on the left, surrounded by 40 smaller busts of Old Testament kings and prophets. The right half of the altar wall shows Mary, who is crowned by Jesus. This main motif is also surrounded by smaller busts and other biblical motifs.

Before it was built, the north wall of the side choir was once the south outer wall of the choir. The representations of St. Christophorus and the Holy Three Kings that can be seen there were created around 1400 and were probably protected by a canopy before the side choir was built. In the side choir there are also depictions of the nothingness of being (a skeleton crossed by snakes) and a cycle of passion, as well as the parable of the wise and foolish virgins .

Gangolf altar

Gangolf altar in the choir

The Gangolf altar is the original high altar of the church and is said to have been dated to 1501. Its central shrine contains the three standing figures of St. Gangolf with hat, staff and sword, St. Mauritius and St. Martin sharing his cloak with the sword. The inside of the altar wings show two scenes from Gangolf's life, the outside shows Gangolf, Laurentius, Petrus and Paulus. The side walls of the altar are also painted. The predella of the altar contains carved busts of Anna selbdritt , St. Barbara and another saint in figure niches as well as St. Ursula (attribute: arrow) and St. Dorothea (attribute: basket) as paintings.

The altar originally also had a small excerpt with standing figures of the Man of Sorrows as well as Mary and John the Evangelist. The figures have been preserved and are now placed in other places in the church.

Stylistically, the altar is related to the Wimpfen Quirinus altar and could have been created by the same artist.

Our Lady Altar

Our Lady Altar

The figures in the shrine of the Liebfrauen Altar are Mary with the child flanked by John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. The altar wings are painted inside and outside with depictions of saints, the inside of the altar wings show St. Catherine and Barbara. The predella of the altar shows the handkerchief of Veronica held by two angels .

The foundation of a Marian altar in the Gangolfskirche by the Würzburg canon Johannes von Kirchheim in 1393 is documented. The altar was therefore dated to that year on various occasions. The standing figures of the present altar, which for a long time could no longer reveal their original character due to numerous overpaintings, have been dated to around 1460/70 since the original version was uncovered and probably come from a regional workshop. The two figures of John could refer to the founder Johannes von Kirchheim and have replaced older figures of the same meaning. The frame of the shrine is probably the same age as the figures, but was painted over in 1688 by Hans Peter Heymann from Neckarsulm, from whom the baroque figures of saints on the wings almost certainly come.

Other equipment

Crucifix above the left side altar

On a side altar to the left of the choir, above which there is an old crucifix, an old wooden Johannessschüssel (bowl with the head of John the Baptist, diameter 38 cm) and a small fully plastic figure of St. Vitus in a cauldron (height 55 cm) are kept .

In addition to the altars, the church's furnishings include clay figures of Jesus with the apostles from the 15th century, whose artist, who is not known by name, is sometimes referred to as the masters of the Neudenau group of apostles . There is also a historical Pietà, also made of clay, as well as the pulpit from the late Gothic period decorated with floral flat carvings. Parts of the church's furnishings, including the clay figures but also some of the altar figures, can only be seen on site as copies, as the originals are in various museums.

Individual evidence

  1. Hartmut Gräf: Medieval and early modern desolations in the former offices of Möckmühl, Neuenstadt and Weinsberg . In: Heilbronnica. Contributions to the city and regional history . Volume 4. Heilbronn City Archives, Heilbronn 2008, ISBN 978-3-940646-01-9 ( Sources and research on the history of the city of Heilbronn . 19) ( Yearbook for Swabian-Franconian history . 36). Pp. 69-168
  2. ^ Weihrauch / Heimberger: Neudenauer Über Lieferungen , Neudenau 1979


  • Clemens Jöckle : Churches and chapels Neudenau . 1st edition. Schnell & Steiner, Munich and Zurich 1992 (Schnell Art Guide, 1975)
  • Heiner Heimberger: The Neudenauer Johannesschüssel and St. Veit sculpture. In: Badische Heimat , 31st year 1951, no. 1
  • Hartmut Gräf: Unterländer Altars 1350–1540 , Heilbronn 1983, pp. 66–71, No. A 14 (Gangolf Altar) and A 15 (Marien Altar).

Web links

Commons : St. Gangolf Neudenau  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 49 ° 17 '23.3 "  N , 9 ° 17' 5.3"  E