Notburga of Hochhausen

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Notburga von Hochhausen, historical sculpture in the Notburgakirche Hochhausen

Notburga von Hochhausen is a legendary figure and the local saint of Hochhausen am Neckar . Her bones are said to be in the Notburgakirche Hochhausen .

View from the Notburga cave towards the Neckar.


According to legend, Notburga was the daughter of King Dagobert I , who is said to have stayed at Hornberg Castle near Neckarzimmern . She is said to have led a godly hermit existence on the opposite side of the Neckar in a cave on the steep bank of the Neckar near the Haßmersheim suburb of Hochhausen . When her father found her there, because he wanted to marry her, she held onto the cross that she had built, because she did not want to come with her father. Finally her father pulled her left arm to take her away. She continued to hold on to the cross with her right hand. The father's strength was so great that he tore off her left arm. He ran away in horror. A snake brought medicinal herbs to Notburga. She was healed. The one-armed hermit and her hiding place became a place of pilgrimage.

Several variants of the Notburga legend have survived, all of which have been further embellished over the centuries. The Notburga's hermit existence is partly justified by the fact that she tried to avoid her father's marriage to the Wenden king Samo . According to another version, Notburga was fed by a white deer or a hind, the animal brought her food with its antlers. On the other hand, there is talk of a snake that brought medicinal herbs to alleviate the pain or which is said to have grown back on the arm. There are also reports of cattle that are said to have pulled the body of Notburga, and of angels who adorned the body in winter with blooming roses and, thanks to heavenly assistance, began to ring the bells of the surrounding churches by themselves when they died.

The Notburga Cave is located on the steep western bank of the Neckar between Hochhausen and Haßmersheim ( ). The cave is only about two or three meters deep and about four meters above the Neckar level. Due to the weathering of the bank rocks and railings, access to the cave is only partially possible.

Insight into the cave of the Notburga 


Description of Neckarelz with the Notburga legend in the Topographia Palatinatus Rheni by Matthäus Merian 1645

The origin of the legend is in the dark. There is evidence of actual political activity by King Dagobert in the Neckar area in the 7th century. He is said to have given the forest interest in the Odenwald and other rights to the city of Ladenburg in 628 and given the place Mosbach to the Kraichgaugrafen in 634 . With three wives and a few concubines, he is said to have had a large number of offspring, so that a daughter in this region seems conceivable. However, the donation of Mosbach and Dagobert's stay at Hornberg Castle, which was probably only founded in the 8th century, is historically questionable. The animals of deer, cattle and snakes that appear in the legend have always been mythological and were everyday elements of the simple world of experience of the people of that time, even if the snake appearing as a savior could even go back to Roman myths in this context.

Notburga was first mentioned in writing in the visitation report ( Synodale Wormatensia ) from 1496 with reference to the remains of St. Notburga in the high altar of the church in Hochhausen . Historical wall paintings in the Notburgakirche show the laying out of the dead. A grave slab as well as a three-dimensional illustration, probably from the 14th or 15th century, showing the one-armed Notburga with a snake, can still be seen in the Notburgakirche Hochhausen today. In 1517 the grave was opened by the Bishop of Worms Reinhard II von Rippur and the body was found intact. The severed arm of the saint was taken to the Weissenburg Monastery , which owned property in Hochhausen, on this occasion . Frescoes around 1500 in the Notburgakirche show scenes from the Notburga legend. The high altar and the historic stained glass windows of the Notburgakirche also date from the same period. It is therefore assumed that the Notburga worship reached its peak around 1500. There were also pilgrimages to Hochhausen up until the Reformation. Unlike her Tyrolean namesake Notburga von Rattenberg , Notburga von Hochhausen was not confirmed as a saint by any Pope.

The legend was first published in 1631 by Reinhard the Elder. Ä. von Gemmingen wrote down in his family history as a popular myth . In this original written form, Notburga lives as a hermit in the cave, is supplied with food by the deer, found by the father and deprived of the arm by force, finally supplied with medicinal herbs by the snake and thereby healed. According to this original version, the saint is said to have lived a life full of blessings. In 1645 the legend was mentioned in Matthäus Merian's Topographia Palatinatus Rheni . In this version, a wicked stepmother triggered the maiden's retreat into the cave and her body was dragged to Hochhausen by bulls. In 1816 the Brothers Grimm added the legend to their collection and thus made it known to a wider audience. In the Grimm version, which was also circulated by the poet Auguste Pattberg , Samo, the king of the Wends, was added as an unloved bridegroom and the reason for being a hermit.

Notburga is also venerated beyond Hochhausen. Two other old churches in the area are associated with the legend, namely the Michael Chapel in Böttingen and the Gangolf Chapel in Neudenau . As a church saint, Notburga is also shown on a stained glass window installed in March 1984 in the choir of the Catholic Church of St. Georg in Siegelsbach .


Web links

Commons : Notburga von Hochhausen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files