Holy grave (replica)

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Holy grave in Görlitz , completed in 1504

As Holy grave ( Latin Sepulcrum Domini , grave of the Lord ' ) are cenotaphs of Jesus Christ referred.


In art history, the term Holy Sepulcher is used to refer to both structural imitations of the rotunda in the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem , as well as architecturally reduced facilities with figurative scenes. Often they are memorials or votive monuments of returning pilgrims to Jerusalem and / or contain relics brought with them from that city. Both the architectural type and the figurative structures are often related to the graves of donors. The term Holy Grave or sepulcrum Domini is also used for temporary grave structures as part of the Easter liturgy.

The Holy Sepulcher buildings can (meanwhile) be completely image-free ( Holy Sepulcher in Görlitz ), follow the model very closely or only in individual motifs (rotunda, dimensions, number of pillars), set free-standing in the churchyard ( Michaelskirche in Fulda ) or be set in a church building ( Mauritius rotunda in Constance ). The reduced systems, often in the form of wall niches inside the church, usually contain life-size groups of figures. Such ensembles were included in liturgical Easter plays in the Middle Ages . The body of Christ is sometimes removable or easy to cover as a flat relief. In the context of the Easter liturgy, the burial with the body of Christ could first be visualized, then later (with the body removed or covered) the resurrection with the empty grave. The popularity of these performances and presentations in the 14th and 15th centuries is due to the increase in the Eucharistic cult in the heyday of mysticism . The figurative representations often show that a lockable recess in the chest of the Christ body was used to store consecrated hosts . Similarly, sacrament houses , in which the Holy of Holies was “buried” on Maundy Thursday , were provided with depictions of Christ's tomb. In the Baroque era, the backdrop of the holy grave , a backdrop that encompasses the entire sanctuary , was also used.

Holy grave monuments often bring together all the figures of the biblical story from the burial to the visit of the three women at the empty grave after the resurrection ( Freiburg Minster ). Other representations are iconographically clearer:

The oldest picture pattern is the visitatio type , which depicts the encounter between women and angels at the empty Easter grave. This scene has been widespread since late antiquity and was symbolic of the Easter event until the high Middle Ages, before the risen Christ himself became the focus of the depiction. In addition to the women and the angel, the iconography of this scene usually also includes the sleeping guards at the grave. The more recent depiction type is the Depositio type , which depicts the entombment of Christ as the end of the Passion cycle and whose program of figures, in addition to the body of Christ, only includes the assistance figures of the entombment, but not angels or guards. The term Holy Sepulcher is only used for both when it comes to three-dimensional representations with a more or less architectural setting.

Examples by epoch

Fresco of the holy three women with an angel in the Holy Cross Church in Säben Abbey , South Tyrol



  • Baar, Canton Zug, Switzerland : A holy grave or a holy grave chest from the parish church of St. Martin (around 1430) is now in the Museum Burg in Zug .
  • Baden-Baden : A holy grave chest comes from the Lichtenthal monastery and is now kept in the Baden State Museum in Karlsruhe . A sculpture of the crucified Christ rests in the oak shrine from the mid-14th century. In the opened lid you can see an angel on a bench, three women with ointment vessels and the disciple John holding the unconscious Mary. It is doubtful whether these figures originally belonged to the chest.
  • Bad Homburg vor der Höhe : The holy grave in the Reformed Cemetery was originally built in Gelnhausen in 1490 ; When it was supposed to give way to road construction, it was demolished in 1825 and rebuilt stone by stone in Bad Homburg.
  • Batalha : Two royal burial chapels were built at the Portuguese monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória in the first half of the 15th century, both of which are to be understood as a contemporary interpretation of the Holy Sepulcher. The Capela do Fundador was started around 1426 and was largely completed in 1434. The monastery founder João I , his wife Filipa de Lancastre and four of their five sons are buried in it. A few years later, the eldest son Duarte I had a second larger complex begin immediately east of the apse, but it was never completed. Huguet was probably the master of both designs .
Holy grave in the Schloßbergmuseum Chemnitz
  • Chemnitz: In the Schloßbergmuseum Chemnitz there is a holy grave from the Chemnitz St. Jacobi Church , which is modeled on a Gothic cathedral. It was made around 1500 for the Jakobikirche in Chemnitz. On it stand sculptural figures on consoles: Joseph of Arimathäa , Nicodemus , the Mother of God , her sister Maria Cleopha , Maria Magdalena and the two apostles John and Peter . The figures on the corner consoles have not been preserved. In addition, the body of Christ is missing, which was equipped with movable arms and legs so that he could be symbolically crucified, removed from the cross and buried. The holy grave was probably originally mobile and could be moved from its location, presumably in one of the side rooms, to the main church room on the occasion of the charliturgy .
  • Diedorf : The holy grave of the St. Albanus community in Diedorf im Eichsfeld is only a life-size representation of the Entombment of Christ. The dead Jesus is surrounded by Joseph of Arimathea, Maria Magdalena, his mother Maria, Johannes, Maria Salome, Veronika and Nicodemus. An inscription on the base of the sarcophagus names Hans Tasch and his wife Elisabeth as the author and the day of St. Egidien in 1501. According to tradition, the burial was initially in a St. Egidien chapel near Eisenach until the monument was saved from the Peasants' War in 1525 had to become. In 1728 a separate chapel was added to the Diedorf church for the burial, but in 1897 it had to give way to a new church. Now it stands in a niche on the north wall of the church.
  • Esztergom : The Christian Museum houses the Holy Grave of Garamszentbenedek (around 1480). Here the frame and wheels are still preserved.
  • Freiburg im Breisgau : The Holy Sepulcher Chapel in the Freiburg Minster is actually just a wall niche in the south aisle that was drawn in around 1330. The larger than life holy grave made of red sandstone shows the sarcophagus on which the body of Christ rests. A host chamber is let into the chest of Christ. On the front of the sarcophagus, five sleeping soldiers can be seen as reliefs . Standing at the grave, a little below life size, are three women whose identities have not been clarified. On the sides two angels are already proclaiming the Easter message.
  • Freiburg im Üechtland, St. Nikolaus, (1433), Entombment, is considered the oldest monumental representation of the event.
  • Freiburg in Üechtland : A holy grave or a wooden painted holy grave chest is in the church of the Cistercian monastery Magerau (mid-14th century).
  • Gengenbach : The holy grave on the "Bergle", in its current form a building from the 18th century with spoilage from the 17th century, goes back to a previous building of the same use from the 13th century. With the holy grave in the Marienkapelle there are two separate holy graves in Gengenbach.
  • Gengenbach: Abbot Konrad von Mülheim donated a Marienkapelle with a holy grave for the monastery church in 1505. The Holy Grave in the late Gothic style has the dimensions 5.45 m × 2.6 m × 0.90 m.
  • Görlitz : According to recent research, the holy grave in Görlitz was not donated by the Görlitz cloth maker and mayor Georg Emmerich . The construction of the Adam's chapel began around 1480, the upper Golgotha ​​chapel and around 1500/10 the burial chapel were added a little later. The chapels are embedded in a landscaped garden, the topography of Jerusalem including Calvary , Kidron Valley , Mount of Olives mimics and oil rocks. The burial chapel is a relatively exact scaled-down copy of the Jerusalem burial chapel based on a contemporary woodcut
  • Constance : In the Minster of Our Lady there is a holy grave in the Mauritius rotunda built in 940 : built around 1260 as an early Gothic, twelve-sided sandstone building. Research regards it as a replica of the very similar-looking sixteen - sided chapel in Magdeburg Cathedral.
  • Münstermaifeld : In the north aisle of the collegiate church of St. Martin and St. Severus is the Holy Sepulcher (representation of the Entombment of Christ, around 1500) with seven smaller than life-size figures made of tuff.
  • Saalfeld : The Holy Grave in the Johanneskirche is a replica of the Christ grave from around 1400.
  • Reutlingen : The holy grave in the Marienkirche in Reutlingen is considered to be the key work for the various tendencies within the so-called Urach master circle. Georg Dehio described it as: “one of the best of its kind and highly indicative of the baroque style of the last Gothic”. Originally set up in the west vestibule, it is now on the east choir wall. it was created around 1510/1515. In addition to the empty sarcophagus of Christ, the three Marys with John the Baptist and five apostles are shown . In the canopy there is the figure of the risen Christ , an angel with the handkerchief of Veronica and busts of four prophets .
  • Saarbrücken : The holy grave that Johann Ludwig von Nassau-Saarbrücken (uncle of Count Johann von Nassau-Dillenburg ) had built after he returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1495 is no longer preserved.
Holy grave in Schwäbisch Gmünder Münster from around 1350 from the Parler hut
  • Schwäbisch Gmünd : In the Heilig-Kreuz-Münster a holy grave was set up in the choir apex chapel of the chapel wreath around 1350. The figures of the Parler Hut and especially the guards are particularly remarkable because of their realistic representation. In the chapel there is a depiction of the Lamentation of Christ from the 15th century.
  • Weilburg an der Lahn: The Holy Sepulcher Chapel was built at the beginning of the 16th century, probably on the initiative of Count Johann von Nassau-Dillenburg.
  • Zwickau : There is a holy grave in St. Mary's Cathedral , which was completed by Michael Heuffner in 1507.

More medieval examples

Holy tomb in the Cappella Rucellai, in San Pancrazio in Florence
  • Belgium: Bruges (from 1471);
  • Germany: Externsteine (1115), Kobern (1230), Niederhaslach, Stiftskirche (around 1350), Augsburg (1506), Nuremberg (1513); * Austria: Neustift (1198);
  • France: Dijon (1018), Neuvy-St.-Sepulcre (1045), Toulouse (around 1090), Schlettstadt (1094), Lanleff (11th century), Charroux (1047), Quimperlé (around 1100), St. Léonard (1120), Villeneuve d'Aveyron (12th century); Hattonchatel (around 1330); Settingen (Lorraine), parish church, (late 14th century); Pont-à-Mousson, St. Martin, Entombment, beg. 15th century; Tonnerre, hospital, burial, 1545; Neufchateau, St. Nicolas;
  • Great Britain: Cambridge (12th century);
  • Italy: Aquileia (before 1088);
  • Netherlands: Delft (15th century), Gouda (1504);
  • Poland: Miechów (12th century);
  • Spain: Torres del Rio (12th century), Eunate (12th century), Segovia (1208);
    Portugal: Tomar (1160).


  • Florence : In the Cappella Rucellai in the Church of San Pancrazio there is a holy grave. The precious little marble building was built around 1467 over the grave of the Florentine merchant Giovanni Rucellai by the Renaissance master builder Leon Battista Alberti .
  • Sansepolcro (Tuscany): The holy grave in the lower church of the Chiesa di San Rocco, a small architecture made of sandstone slabs, is a copy of the Florentine holy grave copy by Leon Battista Alberti. It was created in 1596.


Heiligkreuz Chapel (Trier) : Entombment group from the 17th century
Holy grave in Traunwalchen
  • Dietenheim : The monumental Holy Grave from 1727 has been erected in the parish church of St. Martin every year before Easter since 1978 and occupies the entire choir.
  • Höglwörth : The holy grave originally dates from the Baroque period and in its current form from the 19th century. It is set up every three years in the monastery church of St. Peter and Paul, the last time in 2013.
  • Landshut : In 2004 the Holy Grave from 1738, which was found again in the 1970s, was re-erected in the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius . The late baroque composition consists of over 60 individual figures and is one of the largest ensembles of its kind in Bavaria.
  • Leutesdorf : In the pilgrimage church to the Holy Cross built in 1646/47 on the initiative of Johannes Rieden, there is a replica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in the crypt on a scale of 1: 3.
  • Marienfeld : In the former monastery church of the Marienfeld monastery there is a holy grave below the organ prospect of the Patroclus Möller organ from 1746–1751.
  • Neersen (district of the city of Willich ): The chapel Klein-Jerusalem contains a holy grave from the year 1660. It was built by the priest Gerhard Vynhoven , who had stayed in Palestine for several years. The Holy Sepulcher is considered to be particularly original , because its shape and symbolism refer to the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher at that time, which has been rebuilt many times since then.
  • Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz : A Holy Sepulcher chapel from 1684 is located on a terrace below the pilgrimage church Maria-Hilf . It is a rectangular building with a round choir as a replica of the Holy Sepulcher with blind arcades and a roof turret with a dome.
  • Rüttenen near Solothurn: The Kreuzen Chapel is still the burial place of the von Roll von Emmenholz family today. It contains a holy grave from 1643 with a sculpture of Christ in an open coffin.
  • Traunwalchen : Holy grave first erected in 1773 in the Traunwalchen parish church.
  • Trier : In the Holy Cross Church , built between 1960 and 1962, the lamentation group from the 17th century was transferred from the neighboring Romanesque chapel.
  • Velenice : Between 1710 and 1711 the Boží hrob chapel was built near the northern Bohemian town. The colored reliefs carved out of the sandstone rock inside the chapel show the life and suffering of Christ.
  • Waldshut : The Holy Grave in the choir of the Gottesackerkapelle was donated in 1683 by the imperial salt merchant Adam Tröndlin and built based on the model of the von Kreuzen chapel. Like the model, the complex was the end of a calvary complex with an attached hermitage . The image of Christ in the replica of the grave is a copy of the dead Christ by Hans Holbein the Younger and also proves the influence of the complex in northwestern Switzerland .
  • Weiterdingen : The Holy Grave Chapel between Weiterdingen and Hilzingen with an inner Holy Grave and an altar behind folding shutters was built in 1694.

Historicism and Art Nouveau


  • Pulsnitz - Oberlichtenau : The grave of Jesus was recreated in the Bible Garden in 2005 on a 1: 1 scale. The tomb of Joseph of Arimathäa in Jerusalem served as a model.

Further examples

Sculpture of the Entombment of Christ in the Maifeldmünster


  • Martin Biddle: The Tomb of Christ. New Testament sources - historical and archaeological research - surprising findings . Giessen 1998.
  • NC Brooks: The Sepulcher of Christ in Art and Liturgy . University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature VII, 2, Urbana, Ill. 1921.
  • Thomas Kamm: His grave will be wonderful. Holy graves as witnesses of baroque piety. Catalog for the special exhibition in the Salzburg Baroque Museum and in the City and Toy Museum in Traunstein (March / April 2003). Traunstein 2003. ISBN 3-922927-25-4 .
  • Richard Krautheimer: Introduction to an Iconography of Medieval Architecture , In ders .: Selected essays on European art history. Cologne, Dumont 2003, pp. 142–197 - Orig .: Introduction to an ›Iconography of Medieval Architecture‹ (PDF; 2 MB). In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1942), pp. 1-33.
  • Jürgen Krüger: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. History - shape - meaning. Regensburg 2000.
  • Jan Pieper, Anke Naujokat, Anke Kappler (eds.): Jerusalemskirchen. Small medieval architecture based on the model of the Holy Sepulcher. Exhibition catalog. Aachen 2003. ISBN 3-936971-10-2 .
  • Paolo Piva : The ›copies‹ of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Romanesque Occident. Considerations for a Problematic Relationship . In: Roberto Cassanelli (ed.): The time of the crusades. History and art . Stuttgart 2000, pp. 96-117.
  • Helga D. Hofmann: The holy grave, the entombment of Christ and Christ in the grave . In: Saarheimat 7, 1963, p. 97 ff.
  • Ejnar Dyggve : Sepulcrum Domini - shape and furnishings . in: Festschrift Gehrke, 1962, pp. 11–20 (on the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Western European pictorial tradition)

More special:

  • The holy grave . In: Helga Wäß: Form and Perception of Central German Memory Sculpture in the 14th Century . Two volumes. Bristol et al. a. 2006, here: Volume 1, p. 139, note 234 (Wienhausen) and note 238 (Gernrode); P. 443 ff .; P. 455, note 3 (Holy Grave in Freiburg, Wienhausen, Erfurt, remains in Magdeburg and Halberstadt) // Vol. 2: Catalog of selected objects from the High Middle Ages to the beginning of the 15th century, cat. Nos. 208 with illustration and 933. ISBN 3-86504-159-0
  • Gisela Probst: Sepulchrum Domini in Brackenheim. On the types and functions of southwest German holy graves in the late Middle Ages , in: The medieval wall paintings between the Rhine, Neckar and Enz , Heimatverein Kraichgau , special publication 35, Ubstadt-Weiher 2011, pp. 77-94.
  • Wolfgang Augustyn: women at the grave . In: Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte , Vol. X (2009/2010), Sp. 556–641.

Web links

Commons : Replicas of the Holy Sepulcher  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Probst 2011, p. 93.
  2. ^ Probst 2011, p. 86.
  3. ^ Probst 2011, p. 91.
  4. ^ Probst 2011, p. 88.
  5. Probst 2011, pp. 84–86.
  6. ^ The secrets of the bishop in FAZ of November 22, 2012, page 29.
  7. Discover regional studies online , here also image |
  8. The Holy Sepulcher in Chemnitz , schlossbergmuseum.de.
  9. cf. Freiburger Münsterbauverein (ed.): Münsterblatt , 2012, No. 19.
  10. ^ Magerau Abbey , accessed April 10, 2012.
  11. [1] accessed on June 14, 2014.
  12. The Holy Sepulcher in Görlitz ( Memento of the original of August 9, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / kulturstiftung.kkvsol.net
  13. now relevant: Till Meinert: The holy grave complex in Görlitz. Architecture and history of a late medieval building ensemble [Berlin, Freie Univ., Diss., 2002]. Esens 2004.
  14. Helga D. Hofmann: The Holy Sepulcher, the Entombment of Christ and Christ in the Grave . In: Saarheimat 7, 1963, pp. 98f.
  15. Jan Pieper, Anke Naujokat, Anke Kappler (eds.): Jerusalemskirchen. Small medieval architecture based on the model of the Holy Sepulcher. Exhibition catalog. Aachen 2011, p. 29.
  16. ^ Anke Naujokat: Pax et concordia. The Holy Grave of Leon Battista Alberti as a memorial building of the Florentine Union Council 1439–1443. Freiburg i.Br./ Berlin 2006. ISBN 978-3-7930-9457-9 .
  17. Anke Naujokat: “Copy of the copy. The Holy Sepulcher in San Rocco, Sansepolcro. " In: archimaera (issue 2/2009)
  18. Höglwörth im Rupertiwinkel - Das Heilige Grab , accessed on March 30, 2015.
  19. taz.de daily newspaper from April 10, 2004
  20. ^ The Holy Grave in Kreuzen in Rüttenen near Solothurn , fluryundrudolf.ch.
  21. ^ André Braun-Wein: History and Law: Spiritual Order of Knights, especially in Switzerland , Louis Carlen 1990, page 86.
  22. Reinhard Frauenfelder: The Holy Grave Chapel near Weiterdingen, in: Hegau 5, 1958, pp. 57-62.
  23. Holy grave of the Mondsee basilica - Salzburgwiki. In: www.salzburg.com. Retrieved November 2, 2015 .
  24. Günterreiber: A gem with a history. In: Mittelbayerische Zeitung. April 1, 2013, accessed on November 2, 2015 (German).
  25. The Holy Sepulcher in the Oberlichtenau Bible Garden , bibelgarten.de.
  26. The Holy Sepulcher Chapel of the Aschaffenburg Collegiate Church . In: Hanns Hubach: My hend, I have to wind it . In: Exhibition catalog Cranach in Exile . Aschaffenburg / Regensburg 2007, pp. 139–155; Subchapter in this essay: Die Heiliggrabtruhe , pp. 141 ff .; The Holy Sepulcher Chapel , p. 143 ff .; The Holy Sepulcher and Albrecht von Brandenburg , p. 146 ff. ISBN 978-3-7954-1948-6 .