Jesuit Church (Mannheim)

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Mannheim Jesuit Church
View from the southwest

The Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius and Franz Xaver is a Catholic church in Mannheim city ​​center in square A4. It was built from 1738 to 1760 and is one of the parish churches of the Mannheim-Johannes XXIII pastoral care unit . as well as seat of the dean of the Catholic city ​​dean's office in Mannheim . At the beginning of the 20th century, the art historian Georg Dehio described it as the most important baroque church in southwest Germany.


When Johann Wilhelm died in 1716, Carl Philipp unexpectedly became Elector Palatinate . The Jesuits living at his court in Innsbruck moved with him first to Heidelberg and, after the relocation of the Palatinate residence, also to Mannheim . In 1727, Carl Philipp gave them a building site not far from the palace , which was under construction , where they first set up a college with a grammar school.

On March 12, 1733 the foundation stone for the church was laid. Since the palace construction devoured enormous sums of money, the actual construction work on the church did not begin until 1738. Carl Philipp had agreed to cover the costs from his private box. After his death in 1742, the new Elector Carl Theodor initially took an austerity course due to the tense financial situation in the country, so that the Jesuit construction site was also closed. In 1744 work was resumed, but the elector demanded that the plans be modified in order to avoid "unnecessary" costs. In 1748 the topping-out ceremony for the dome was celebrated and in the following year the shell construction was largely completed so that the interior decoration could begin. After the end of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), the financial situation also eased, which benefited the splendid furnishings. On November 15, 1756 Jesuit church was benediziert and on May 18, 1760 by the Prince Bishop of Augsburg Joseph von Hessen-Darmstadt - on behalf of the Wormser bishop Johann Friedrich Karl von Ostein the Holy St. - Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier consecrated . On the occasion of the inauguration, a Rheingold commemorative medal designed by Anton Schäffer was issued.

View from the west with the observatory in the foreground
Jesuit Church and National Theater 1900

The building and art history of the Jesuit church is only incompletely documented. The Italian architect Alessandro Galli da Bibiena was responsible for the design and construction management of the first phase . In 1746, the future court architect Franz Wilhelm Rabaliatti was added. After Bibiena's death in 1748, Guillaume d'Hauberat was appointed chief construction director and thus nominally head of the work. But he died the following year, so that the Elector appointed Nicolas de Pigage .

Well-known artists were also involved in the artistic design. Paul Egell created the reliefs . The high altar and the six side altars were designed by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt . Egid Quirin Asam from Munich was commissioned with the stucco work and the ceiling frescoes . He designed the crossing dome with scenes from the life of the order's founder Ignatius von Loyola, while he furnished the ceiling of the nave with a more than 400 m 2 fresco, the content of which referred to the motif of the high altar, namely the missionary trip of St. Francis Xavier to India. While doing this he had a fatal accident on April 29, 1750. The frescoes in the spandrels of the dome were painted by Philipp Hieronymus Brinckmann . Johann Matthäus van den Branden provided wood carvings .

In 1773 Pope Clement XIV lifted the Jesuit order and the Jesuit church officially became the Great Court Church. However, just five years later, Elector Carl Theodor took over his Bavarian inheritance and moved most of the Mannheim court to Munich . At the end of 1781 the Lazarists got the church to use, but in 1794 their branch in Mannheim was closed again. In 1802 the Jesuit Church became Mannheim city parish church, initially provisionally and finally from 1804 by the decision of the new sovereign Karl Friedrich von Baden , because it was larger and in better condition than the St. Sebastian Church . In December 1824, St. Sebastian's own parish was again established. Since then, the names Obere (Jesuit Church) and Lower Parish (St. Sebastian) have become established. Within the Catholic Church, after the dissolution of the Diocese of Worms , the Upper Parish belonged to the Dean's Office of Heidelberg in the Archdiocese of Freiburg from 1827 until the City of Mannheim's Dean's Office was founded in 1902 .

For the 300th anniversary of the city, the church was extensively renovated in 1906. The two donor figures were created in the vestibule by the sculptor Thomas Buscher . During the Second World War , the church building suffered severe damage from British-American air raids, especially in the choir and in the dome. Parts of the equipment were also destroyed or damaged. After the war it was decided to restore the church to its historical style. The reconstruction took place under the direction of Anton Ohnmacht and Hans Rolli and on November 6th, 1960 Archbishop Hermann Schäufele gave a solemn consecration . Jesuits have also been active in Mannheim again since 1947. Between 1986 and 2004 further reconstructions were carried out inside the church, in particular the marble high altar in 1997 as well as the electoral court boxes. Due to the migration of the population from the city center and the dwindling number of believers, the three inner city parishes of the Upper and Lower Parishes and the Church of Our Lady were merged into one pastoral care unit on September 1, 2005 .


Jesuit Church and College 1753
The castle can be seen on the left edge . The college no longer exists today.


The Jesuit Church is across from the northwest corner of the castle . Originally there was a direct connection between the castle and the church with the college building. However, it was partly demolished in 1901 to make room for the continuation of Bismarckstrasse and the district court building. The northern tower is the end point of the line of sight of the street running east through the A and B squares . The two- tower facade made of red sandstone and the mighty, 75-meter-high crossing dome are particularly striking . The long and back sides are kept simple and brightly plastered. The rectangular floor plan is about 74 meters long and 29 meters wide. The shape of the church is based on Il Gesù in Rome , the mother church of the Jesuit order.

Northern bell tower

The splendidly designed facade in the east has a three-axis porch with three arched portal openings. They are locked with ornate wrought iron gates by the Mannheim master locksmith Philipp Reinhard Sieber. The middle one is crowned with the electoral hat and decorated with the monograms of Elector Carl Theodor and his wife Elisabeth Augusta. In the window above is the Fama designed by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt . A lion crouches on her right, on her left a putto with the monogram of Carl Theodors and above it is a broadly curved ribbon with the inscription "COMSUMAVIT ANNO MDCCLV". Statues representing the four cardinal virtues are located above the two side portals and on the upper floor . The porch closes with a gable relief by the important Baroque sculptor Paul Egell . It shows the Christ monogram IHS with a halo and beneath it on clouds praying and jubilant angels. The facade above is structured in the same way as the porch. The middle section ends with a triangular gable, accompanied by obelisks and crowned with a cross with a halo. The two bell towers are decorated with vases at the corners, which, like the human masks on the bellhouses, were created by the sculptor Bitterich. The towers are covered by onion roofs crowned with patriarchal crosses . During the reconstruction after the Second World War, the octagonal dome was slightly aligned with the two bell towers by raising the main cornice. It ends in a lantern also provided with a patriarchal cross .



The interior, structured by stucco marble pilasters, is designed entirely in a late Baroque style. Despite the war damage, the church is still very rich in baroque works of art. The six side altars and the holy water fonts have been preserved from Verschaffelt. The first two altars are dedicated to St. Aloisius of Gonzaga and St. Stanislaus Kostka consecrated. The two middle ones bear the names of the electoral couple, Karl Borromeo and St. Elisabeth of Thuringia . The altar leaves of the four altars were painted by Lambert Krahe . On the cross altar, left in the indicated transept, the angels were reconstructed with the crucifixion tools. Statues of the two church patrons were subsequently placed on the right St. Mary's altar in order to create an optical counterweight to the crucifixion angels. Originally, angel figures were also planned here, but they were never realized. The altar leaves on these two altars were painted by Felix Anton Besoldt and Philipp Hieronymus Brinckmann .

Gusset fresco "America"

In the spandrels under the dome there are four continental frescoes by Philipp Hieronymus Brinckmann. The destroyed frescoes by Egid Quirin Asam in the dome and in the nave were not restored. The confessionals, on the other hand, were reconstructed like the electoral boxes. The most important sculpture is the Immaculata (silver Madonna in a halo) created in 1747 by the Augsburg silversmith Joseph Ignaz Saler. The current pulpit was only installed after the war. It was created in 1753 and originally comes from the Heidelberg Carmelite Church. On the cover there is a statue of St. Paul . Waldemar Kolmsperger painted the Way of the Cross, which consists of oil paintings, in 1937 according to old models. In the vestibule are two monuments by the church builders Carl Philipp and Carl Theodor von Thomas Buscher from 1906.

The magnificent high altar , almost 20 meters high, was reconstructed and consecrated in 1997. Paul Egell planned the original high altar. After his death, Verschaffelt realized the altar by modifying details. After the destruction in World War II, the State Monuments Office was against a faithful restoration, which was "impossible" on the basis of photos, but agreed to a "creative copy". Six marble columns support an architrave . Above it, volutes unite to form a canopy . At the side are two angels carrying garlands. The halo with angels and putti appears under the canopy. Below are Saints Ignatius and Franz Xavier with an angel. To the sides are two other statues that embody Faith and Asia personified. The tabernacle house stands in front of it . Some original fragments such as the lamb and the door could be incorporated into the reconstruction. The Lahnmarmor was like the original from an already disused quarry in Villmar won. The angels wearing garlands were created by Hatto Zeidler , the other figures by Friedrich Mayet .

In order to meet the requirements of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council , the choir room was redesigned after the reconstruction of the high altar. Klaus Ringwald created a celebration altar made of silver and bronze, which is given its own weight by the new design of the floor and four oversized candelabra . Commemorative plaques with the names of the Jesuits buried in the crypt and the long-time pastor of the Jesuit Church and Mannheim honorary citizen Joseph Bauer were placed in the new marble floor of the nave .


Back room with main organ

The case of the main organ on the west gallery is made to a design by the Palatinate court sculptor Paul Egell. It survived the bombing only slightly damaged by a shatterproof casing and was repaired in 1952. In 1965 an instrument from the organ building workshop Johannes Klais , Bonn , was installed, the sound of which was optimized in 2004. The instrument has four manuals and pedal with the following disposition :

I positive C-g 3
Principal 8th'
Tube bare 8th'
Octave 4 ′
recorder 4 ′
Forest flute 2 ′
Larigot 1 13
Cornett V
Scharff III – IV
Dulcian 16 ′
Krummhorn 8th'
II Hauptwerk C – g 3
Principal 16 ′
Principal 8th'
Gemshorn 8th'
Gamba 8th'
Octav 4 ′
Hollow flute 4 ′
Fifth 2 23
Super octave 2 ′
Mixture IV
Trumpet 16 ′
Trumpet 8th'
III Echowerk C – g 3
Wooden dacked 8th'
Quintad 8th'
Principal 4 ′
Reed flute 4 ′
Nasard 2 23
Octave 2 ′
third 1 35
Sifflet 1'
Acuta IV
Vox humana 8th'
oboe 8th'
IV Swell C – g 3
Pommer 16 ′
Violin principal 8th'
Wooden flute 8th'
Viol 8th'
Vox coelestis 8th
Octav 4 ′
Wooden truss 4 ′
Flute 2 ′
Septsesquialter II-III
Mixture V
bassoon 16 ′
Trumpet harm. 8th'
Clairon 4 ′
Pedal C – f 1
Pedestal 32 ′
Principal 16 ′
Sub-bass 16 ′
Soft bass 16 ′
Fifth 10 23
Wooden octave 8th'
Beard pipe 8th'
Chorale flute 4 ′
Grand Sesquial II
Back set IV 2 23
trombone 16 ′
Trumpet 8th'
Clarine 4 ′
Cornett 2 ′
  • Side trains : Zimbelstern
  • Coupling : I / II, III / II, IV / II, III / I, IV / I, IV / III, Sub IV / IV, I / P, II / P, III / P, IV / P
  • Playing aids : 2 free combinations, 1 free pedal combination, crescendo roller, individual tongue storage, electronic setting system

The choir organ is located on the left side gallery. Its case comes from an anonymous cabinet maker who made it in 1751/52 for the Catholic Church in Fürth in the Odenwald . In 1961 it was transferred to Mannheim and contains the post-war organ from the Egell case , which has been reduced to 16 stops .


Bell for church service

The Francisca bell, cast by Johann Michael Steiger in 1754, is the second largest Baroque bell in Mannheim after the Walloon bell cast in 1669 in the Konkordienkirche . In 1956, Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling added five bells , and in 1975 the Heidelberg bell foundry added two more bells. The eight bells are distributed across both towers; The two large bells hang in the south-west tower and the other six bells in the north-east tower. The bells, like the yokes, were made of steel until 2009 and were replaced by two wooden bells and new wooden yokes at the end of 2009. The old clappers were also replaced by new ones.

No. Surname Casting year Caster Ø (mm) Weight (kg) Tone (16th note)
1 Michael 1956 FW Schilling 2023 4935 g 0 +4
2 Ignatius 1956 FW Schilling 1671 2772 b 0 +7
3 Joseph 1956 FW Schilling 1477 1921 c 1 +5
4th Francisca 1754 JM Steiger 1275 ~ 1400 it 1 +7
5 Maria 1956 FW Schilling 1094 857 f 1 +7
6th Nicholas 1956 FW Schilling 1006 700 g 1 +8
7th Carl Borromeo 1975 Heidelberg bell foundry 892 511 b 1 +8
8th Elisabeth 1975 Heidelberg bell foundry 790 362 c 2 +8

Church life

After the Jesuits as a separate (upper) parish church, the following clergy worked at the Jesuit Church:

The church is also used by the Spanish speaking community.


  • Eva-Maria Günther: The Jesuit Church in Mannheim . Lindenberg 2005, ISBN 3-89870-245-6 .
  • Rolf Legler: The miracle of Mannheim: Festschrift for the consecration of the altar of the Jesuit Church Mannheim . Lindenberg 1997, ISBN 3-931820-27-0 .
  • Reiner Albert, Günther Saltin: Catholic life in Mannheim: Vol. 1, From the beginnings to secularization (1803). Ostfildern 2009, ISBN 978-3-7995-0908-4 .
  • Hans Huth: The art monuments of the city district Mannheim I. Munich 1982, ISBN 3-422-00556-0 .
  • Karl Weich: Mannheim - the new Jerusalem. The Jesuits in Mannheim 1720–1773 . Mannheim 1997, ISBN 3-920671-17-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The miracle of Mannheim: Festschrift for the consecration of the altar of the Jesuit Church Mannheim. P. 31.
  2. Catholic life in Mannheim: Vol. 1, From the beginnings to secularization (1803). Pp. 151-157.
  3. Catholic life in Mannheim: Vol. 1, From the beginnings to secularization (1803). Pp. 161-191.
  4. ^ Carl Lepper: The gold panning on the Rhine. Heppenheim, 1980, ISBN 3-922781-64-0 , pp. 148-151.
  5. Catholic life in Mannheim: Vol. 1, From the beginnings to secularization (1803). P. 316.
  6. ^ Karl Anton Straub: Mannheim Church History: Catholic Past and Present. Mannheim 1957, p. 49.
  7. The art monuments of the city district of Mannheim I. pp. 598–606.
  8. Die Kunstdenkmäler des Stadtkreis Mannheim I. S. 608–616, 632.
  9. ^ Die Kunstdenkmäler des Stadtkreis Mannheim I. pp. 593-598, 606, 617, 619–627, 632, 639.
  10. ^ The art monuments of the city district of Mannheim I. p. 644.
  11. ^ The miracle of Mannheim: Festschrift for the consecration of the altar of the Jesuit Church Mannheim . Pp. 96-101.
  12. The main organ of the Jesuit Church in Mannheim. Christian Schmitt plays works by Erbach, Bach, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Dupré, Bovet, Hosokawa. CD. Syemusic 2007. SYECD17002HJM.
  13. ^ Volker Müller: Bells in Mannheim. 2007.

Web links

Commons : Jesuit Church  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 49 ° 29 ′ 10.5 ″  N , 8 ° 27 ′ 39.2 ″  E