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Rectory Finkenbach-Gersweiler (1830)
Rectory of the Church of St. Barbara in Langenfeld-Reusrath
The parsonage of the Wuppertal Luther Church , a parsonage built in the same style as the associated church

A parsonage (or pastor's house ) is the building in which the offices or apartments of pastors or pastors are housed. The parsonage is usually maintained by the church or parish and was often associated with benefices in the past . Since most of the church properties passed into state property with the secularization , many parsonages are still under the administration of the federal states. As a cultural institution, the rectory is a "refuge of education and a bulwark against secular loss of meaning". It is of great importance because the pastor's families always lived and imparted special values, so that pastor's children in particular often held very prominent positions.


The parsonage or, in the case of larger building complexes, the parsonage (with parish barn ) is usually connected to the parish office. In parts of the German-speaking area it is also known as Widum, Wittum , Wiedenhof or Pastorat , historically also as "Archipresbyterat", "Presbyterat", "Archidiakonat" or "Diakonat". In some regions within the North German Protestant regional churches one also speaks of the "pastorei". Many churches do not have special, formulated rectory rights. Often the focus is on equity , in some regional churches there are also rectory guidelines.


The strict separation into a residential house and an outbuilding for agriculture distinguished the rectory from the usual farmhouses in many localities. The parsonage often also contained congregation, school or confirmation rooms.


The church provided the clergy in many parishes with their own living quarters. Often in were Roman Catholic Church thus also other facilities such as colleges , schools and deaneries connected. At collegiate communities usually one who was pin goods and the rectory. With the Reformation, the parsonage gained even more importance, since with the abolition of celibacy for pastors, pastors 'wives (instead of pastors' cooks) and thus entire parish families moved into the Protestant parsonage. Martin Luther's wife Katharina von Bora was a well- known role model for the role of the pastor 's wife and the often associated open and hospitable house . Pastor children often enjoyed an above-average education. Under the sovereign church regiment , the pastor also became a state official on the front line in many places and, together with the teacher, cantor and sometimes mayor, formed the core of the educated elite. Parsonages served, among other things, as a "religious biotope, political counter-draft, bourgeois enclave or anti-bourgeois battlefield". Numerous prominent personalities in very different fields grew up in a parsonage, including: Friedrich Nietzsche , Jean Paul , Hermann Hesse , Johannes Rau , Frère Roger , Ingmar Bergman , Vincent van Gogh , Jane Austen , Paul Tillich , Friedrich Dürrenmatt , Matthias Claudius , Friedrich Schleiermacher , Christoph Blocher , Christopher Wren , Gudrun Ensslin , Klaus Harpprecht , Elisabeth Niejahr , Hans W. Geißendörfer , Angela Merkel , Rezzo Schlauch , Christine Lieberknecht , Margrethe Vestager , Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre , Christoph Hein , Christoph Wonneberger , Martin Kohlhaussen .

The Protestant rectory of the present

The role of pastors has changed in the recent past, many pastors' wives have their own professions and there are pastors. Along with this, the meaning of the rectory also changed.

The Catholic rectory

According to a resolution of the Würzburg Synod of 1974, the rectory as the priest's house should also be a house for the congregation: “The priest's house and household must correspond to his service”, which requires a style “that is characterized by simplicity, simplicity and consideration takes on the poor in the community. ”It belongs to the parish's property and is said to be located near the parish church. Canon law determines a residence obligation for the pastor .

Often the parish offices are also located in the rectory, usually also the parish archives . In earlier times, rural parishes had a guest room in which the bishop spent the night on a visitation trip .

Due to the reduced number of priests and the amalgamation of parishes, many parsonages are no longer used in their original function. Sometimes they were therefore converted into community or youth rooms, and often also rented or sold.

In the past, the pastor's housekeeper (also: pastor's wife , pastor's housewife ), often a female relative of the priest, worked in the priestly household. The activity is one of the dying professions. The number of priests has decreased, and many priests have given up the permanent service and organize their household differently. The number of rectory housekeepers in Germany is estimated at around 800 full-time women today, compared to around 8,000 in the 1970s. They are organized in the Federal Association of Rectory Housekeepers in Germany . The housekeeper is a full-time or part-time employee of the priest, but can take on other tasks in the parish in addition to housekeeping in the parsonage, depending on the priest's area of ​​activity as a pastor, religious teacher or clergyman in the administrative service. She can live in the rectory or outside.

The Würzburg Synod defined its activity as “church service” through which the priest becomes “freer for his pastoral tasks”. The professional association cites a good general education, completed vocational training, sound domestic knowledge, high social competence, self-confidence and discretion, acceptance of the priestly way of life and a place in the Catholic Church as prerequisites for the activity of the parsonage.

In the literature

Since pastors often appear in literature, the rectory also plays a role again and again. For the Protestant parsonages this is especially true in Lennacker's novels . The book of a homecoming (1938) by Ina Seidel and Der Mann auf der Kanzel (1979) by Ruth Rehmann clearly. Also Gosta Berling is an example, and the many novels about pastors who identify in criminal cases, such as the Father Brown novels of GK Chesterton . In addition, certain images are also conveyed in television series such as Heartbreaker - Father of Four Sons and others.

Web links

Commons : Parsonage  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Rectory  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Cord Aschenbrenner: The Evangelical Rectory, 300 years of faith, spirit and power. A family story. Siedler, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-8275-0013-7 .
  • Thomas A. Seidel / Christopher Spehr (eds.): The evangelical rectory. Myth and Reality. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-374-03341-6 .
  • Christine Eichel: The German rectory. Hoard of spirit and power. Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-86995-040-2 .
  • Martin Greiffenhagen : The Protestant rectory: a cultural and social history. Stuttgart 1984.
  • Ernst Gutting , Anneliese Knippenkötter (Ed.): The woman in the rectory. Contributions to a church service for the community. Düsseldorf 1980 (Roman Catholic).
  • Anneliese Knippenkötter: rectory housekeeper . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 8 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1999, Sp. 174 f .
  • Robert Minder : The image of the rectory in German literature from Jean Paul to Gottfried Benn. In: Culture and Literature in Germany and France - Five Essays. Frankfurt 1977, ISBN 3-518-06897-0 .
  • Richard Riess (Ed.): House in Time - The Protestant Rectory Today. Chr. Kaiser Verlag, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-459-01222-6 (with contributions by C. + S. Bartels, Friedrich Wilhelm Kantzenbach , Johannes Hanselmann and others)
  • Gunther Schendel: The Protestant rectory from a church-historical point of view - contributions to the DVD-educativ premium "The white ribbon". Matthias Film gGmbH 2010 (including short biographies on the following rectory children: Diedrich Speckmann , Gottfried Benn , Wolfgang Trillhaas , Horst Wessel ).
  • Thomas Spohn (Ed.): Parsonage in Northwest Germany. Münster / New York / Munich / Berlin 2000.

Individual evidence

  1. acorn. The German rectory. 2012. Blurb
  2. Kirchenrecht Baden (accessed on May 19, 2014)
  3. rectory guidelines of the Lutheran Church in Württemberg .
  4. The Anglican Church also had corresponding institutions, from which important colleges often emerged.
  5. acorn. The German rectory. 2012. Blurb
  6. ^ Susanne Mack: Career of a Pastor's Daughter., October 26, 2005, accessed on October 26, 2014
  7. Simon Broll: The most famous pastor children in the world., September 17, 2013, accessed October 26, 2014.
  8. Decision: Services and Offices No. 5.2.3, 11./12. November 1974, in: Joint Synod of the Dioceses of the Federal Republic of Germany: Resolutions of the General Assembly. Official complete edition I. Freiburg - Basel - Vienna, 2nd edition 1976, p. 622.
  9. ^ Konrad Hartelt: rectory . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 8 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1999, Sp. 174 .
  10. ^ Residence obligation of Catholic pastors according to the CIC: Can. 533 §1The pastor is obliged to have his residence in the rectory near the church. "
  11. ^ Resolution: Services and Offices No. 5.2.3. - Professional community of rectory housekeepers in the Archdiocese of Cologne ( Memento of the original from April 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. - Austrian working group of the diocesan professional communities of the rectory housekeepers @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. job description , accessed on August 10, 2020th
  13. ↑ : I am not a co-pastor , November 17th, 2015.
  14. Dying profession? The number of rectory housekeepers is falling rapidly , August 10, 2020.