Katharinenkloster (Lübeck)

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The Gothic facades of St. Catherine's Monastery, renewed in 1837/38 , seen from Königstraße , before the wings were demolished in 1880

The Katharinenkloster in Lübeck existed as a monastery of the Friars Minor ( ordo fratrum minorum (OFM), Franciscans) from 1225 until the Reformation in 1531.


While St. Francis of Assisi was still alive , the Franciscans received a plot of land from the city council in 1225 to build a monastery and church on Königstrasse and the corner of Glockengießerstrasse . This was the first settlement of the order in northern Germany. It probably happened from Magdeburg , where the Franciscans had been based since 1223. In 1256 the area was expanded by a further donation from the council.


Ground floor plan 1832; Church nave (left) with monastery wing (right), which today belongs to the Katharineum high school .
Slightly idealized representation of the Gothic monastery entrance from the Lübeck ABC by Carl Julius Milde , 1857

Little is known of the buildings erected first. The monastery church, consecrated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria , today's Katharinenkirche , has been one of the most popular burial places of Lübeck's citizens since its foundation. In 1277 there was a bitter dispute between the city and the Lübeck Bishop Burkhard von Serkem about the right to be buried in the church , who obtained an interdict from the Pope and initiated a process before the Roman Curia. The trial ended in 1281 with a settlement that guaranteed the mendicant monks their right to be buried and strengthened their position in the city vis-à-vis the parish clergy. During a further dispute (so-called Great Dispute ) between 1299 and 1318, the Franciscans, who were not under the control of the bishop, initially undermined the interdict which he had again pronounced over the city until they were obliged by the Pope to observe the interdict in 1310. This led to the cessation of services and the loss of income from funerals. After the city was able to free itself from the interdict through atonement payments in 1318, a year later the Franciscans were compared with the diocese.

With the support of well-known donors such as the mayor Segebodo Crispin , the eastern part of the monastery church with the choir was rebuilt from 1319, then the nave in the brick Gothic style . The convent buildings followed without the exact construction sequence being clarified. It is believed that the chapter house on the first floor of the east wing was built around 1320. Two three-winged cloisters open up the rooms, which are arranged around two inner courtyards.

Through their pastoral and charitable work during the plague epidemic around 1350, the Franciscans apparently received so many legacies that they were able to considerably expand the monastery buildings towards Königstraße under the Guardian Emeke Swartze. An inscription in the western cloister reports:

M, and L, three Cs were for you, Lord, years passed,
When the plague
struck more than half of this land. Write three more I's: The monastery is being built as a new southward.
A library also faces this street.
Through those who were captured by death, God renewed this monastery.
If he took their bodies away from them, be merciful to souls.

At the same time (1350–54) the church was vaulted. In 1356 the provincial chapter of the Saxon Franciscan Province ( Saxonia ) was held in the monastery , in which more than 450 Franciscans took part. It has been assumed that the inauguration of the new buildings took place at the same time.

At the end of the century, the five-bay, two-aisled refectory in the south wing was rebuilt and decorated around 1440 with wall paintings, a coronation of Mary and a unicorn hunt . The common roof structure over the east and south wings is dendrochronologically dated to 1422. Later farm buildings such as a hospital were built and in 1500 the new building of the brewery that had previously burned down.

Position in the religious association

The convent became the seat of one of the twelve custodians of Saxonia . The Lübeck custody included the convents along the Baltic Sea: the gray monastery in Wismar , the Katharinenkloster (Rostock) , the Franciscan monastery Schwerin , the Johanniskloster (Stralsund) and the monasteries in Parchim and Riga , later also the Poor Clare monastery in Ribnitz . Nine provincial chapters, each with around 400 participants, a large sacrament procession and numerous festive worship services took place here. It is not known how many Franciscans permanently lived in St. Catherine's Monastery. Research estimates around 50.

In the internal Franciscan disputes of the 15th century about the observance movement , the monastery sided with the less strict convents, but without becoming part of the conventual branch in the order. By 1463 it adopted the Martinian Constitutions named after Pope Martin V and from 1518 belonged to the newly established, moderately reformed province of Saxonia S. Johannis Baptistae . By dividing this province from St. John the Baptist , the "Lower Saxony Province" ( Saxonia inferior ) was established in 1521 . It kept the name Saxonia Johannis Baptistae and, in addition to the Lübeck custodian, included the Brandenburg, Magdeburg, Halberstadt, Stettin and Bremen custodians. However, the province soon went under in the Reformation .

Importance for the city

The monastery had two reading masters to instruct the monastery offspring and was considered the center of Lübeck chronicling. Between 1368 and 1380 Brother Detmar worked here as a reading master, whom Jakob von Melle identified as the author of the oldest Lübeck chronicle. The so-called Ribnitz Chronicle was also probably created here, at the beginning of the 14th century. The then curator Dietrich von Studnitz is considered to be the author . In the 15th century, the monastery was the place of origin of important Middle Low German religious texts such as the inscriptions of the Lübeck dance of death , the editions of the Mohnkopf-Offizin by Hans van Ghetelen and the Lübeck Passionals printed in 1492 by Steffen Arndes , a Middle Low German version of the Legenda aurea , and the comments in the Lübeck Bible (1494) , presumably from the custodian Nikolaus Bucholt . During the Reformation, it was Reimar Kock, a (former) monk of the Katharinenkloster, who recorded the events in Lübeck.

As in other cities, the monastery premises were also used for secular purposes. In the refectory , for example, arbitration negotiations took place in disputes, and the chapter house was used for engagement agreements. In particular, the exclusive circle society and the office of painters were linked to the convent through prayer fraternity agreements, but the offices of fishermen, cooks, cooper and bakers as well as the Marian Brotherhood of Minstrels found their spiritual home here.

Dissolution and re-use

As a result of the Reformation reorganization of the city through the church order of Johannes Bugenhagen , the convent was dissolved in 1531. Most of the Franciscans left the monastery, the last one left behind, Martin Eggemann, died in 1559.

The monastery rooms remained largely unchanged, but were given a new use. A Latin school was established , which was named Katharineum zu Lübeck from the 19th century . The chapter house was used as a lectorium or auditorium , but also continued to be used for engagements by the office of painters (and glaziers) as their office , which had it renovated and painted in 1655. On this occasion, newly appointed masters donated small coat of arms windows, at least one of which (that by Bartram Österling) has been preserved in the St. Anne's Museum . Book auctions were also held here, for example in 1698 by Jasper Köneken . The teacher's apartments, which were also located in the monastery, only disappeared during the major renovations of the 19th century.

From 1620 the city ​​library was set up in the former dormitory on the upper floor of the chapter room ; In two rooms between the dormitory and the Katharinenkirche, the consistory met as an ecclesiastical / municipal court with jurisdiction for marriage and family matters, initially until 1761 in the room that was then added to the Scharbausch library of the city library, then until 1817 in the former Sacristy . A remainder of 187 works from the former monastery library belonged to the basic inventory of the city library. The rector Otto Walper had already had her valuable parchment codices sold in order to use the proceeds to purchase works for the school staff, including editions of the Bible and classics. These also became the founding inventory of the city library.

The monastery church of St. Katharinen was used as a branch church of St. Mary and for school services, after being profaned during the French era, also for exhibitions. In the 20th century a museum church with occasional services, it has been part of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck Cultural Foundation since January 1, 2006 .

The extensive building complex on Königstrasse in Lübeck's old town, today part of the world cultural heritage , is used by three cultural institutions.


  • Johannes Baltzer , Friedrich Bruns, Hugo Rahtgens: The architectural and art monuments of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. Volume IV: The Monasteries. The town's smaller churches. The churches and chapels in the outskirts. Thinking and way crosses and the passion of Christ. Lübeck: Nöhring 1928, facsimile reprint 2001 ISBN 3-89557-168-7 , pp. 35–155.
  • Hartwig Beseler (Ed.): Art Topography Schleswig-Holstein Neumünster 1974.
  • Günther H. Jaacks: St. Katharinen zu Lübeck. Building history of a Franciscan church. Lübeck: Schmidt-Römhild 1968 (publications on the history of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck, volume 21).
  • Friedrich Schlie : The art and history monuments of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Volume II: The district court districts of Wismar, Grevesmühlen, Rehna, Gadebusch and Schwerin. Schwerin 1898, reprint Schwerin 1992, pp. 27-68, ISBN 3-910179-06-1 .
  • Heike Trost: The Katharinenkirche in Lübeck: Franciscan architecture in the brick area. From the architecture of the mendicant order to the citizen church. Butzon and Bercker (Edition Coelde), Kevelaer 2006 ( Franziskanische Forschungen. Heft 47, zugl .: Bonn, Univ., Diss. 2004), ISBN 978-3-7666-2106-1 .
  • Heike Trost: Room book of rooms of monastic origin in the Katharineum . (Reproduction 2006).
  • Ingo Ulpts: The mendicant orders in Mecklenburg . Saxonia Franciscana 6. Werl 1995

Web links

Commons : Katharinenkloster Lübeck  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ingo Ulpts: On the role of the mendicants in urban conflicts of the Middle Ages: Selected examples from Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck. In: Dieter Berg (Hrsg.): Begging order and city. Mendicant orders and urban life in the Middle Ages and in modern times. Werl 1992, pp. 131-151.
  2. ^ Translation based on Adolf Clasen: Misunderstood treasures. Lübeck's Latin inscriptions in the original and in German. Lübeck 2002, p. 197.
  3. Henrik Lungagnini: The exposed medieval wall paintings in the refectory of the former St. Catherine's monastery. In: The car . 1972, pp. 37-44.
  4. The last remains of the monastery building were torn down in 1891/92, cf. Friedrich Schlie , Volume II, p. 168 ff
  5. ^ Demolition of the last building by the middle of the 17th century, cf. Friedrich Schlie, Volume II, p. 526 ff.
  6. Today used as the German Amber Museum.
  7. ^ Heike Trost: The Katharinenkirche in Lübeck: Franciscan architecture in the brick area. ... 2006, p. 54.
  8. Bernd Schmies: Structure and organization of the Saxon Franciscan Province and its Thuringian Custody from the beginnings to the Reformation. In: Thomas T. Müller u. a .: For God and the world. Paderborn u. a. 2008, pp. 38–49, here p. 48 f.
  9. “The glaziers still have their meeting room in the cloister of the Katharinen = church and give them painted glass windows when they become masters. In the last century H. Lukas is painted on the door of the room, next to it a red shield with three silver shields. A newer window in the hall has the same colors. ” Georg Christian Friedrich Lisch : The office and coat of arms of painters and glaziers and the artist's coat of arms. In: Yearbooks of the Association for Mecklenburg History and Archeology. 23, 1858, pp. 377-384.
  10. Catalog: Catalogus Librorum paucor. quidem iterum & Miscellaneorum; Sed tamen & non minimam partem non contemnendorum: una cum append. nonn. Auctionando vendendorum; Benedicente Dei Gratia Lubecae, d. October 31. & sq. Anno 1698 In Auditorio Cathariniano per J. Könekenium. Lubecae: Schmalhertzius 1698 ( urn : nbn: de: bvb: 29-bv009009143-6 ).
  11. Listed in Johann Kirchmann's access book to the city library until 1641 , digitized version , Lübeck city library , pp. 91–104: Catalogus librorum ex veteri bibliotheca Cathariniana novam bibliothecam translatorum
  12. Listed in Johann Kirchmann's access book of the city library up to 1641 , digitized version , Lübeck city library , from p. 105: Catalogus librorum quos D. Ottho Gualperius Rector scholae pecunia ex divenditis Codicis Bibliothecae Catharinianae membranaceis confecta in usum Collegarum olim comparavit.

Coordinates: 53 ° 52 ′ 9 ″  N , 10 ° 41 ′ 22 ″  E