Spindeltal ruined church

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Ruined church in the Spindeltal, view from the south

The ruined church Spindeltal is a revived medieval Marian pilgrimage site near Wellheim in the Eichstätt district in Upper Bavaria.


The Spindeltal-Ruinenkirche is located on the southern edge of the Spindeltal, a side valley of the Wellheimer dry valley in the southern Franconian Jura , about two kilometers west of the Wellheimer district Konstein . From a church perspective, it lies on the border between the dioceses of Eichstätt and Augsburg, in the parish of Wellheim / Rennertshofen (diocese of Augsburg). The name of the valley is said to be derived from spindle trees .


Interior of the ruined church in the Spindeltal
The Gothic Madonna in the Church of Ensfeld (Mörnsheim)

Count Conrad von Helfenstein , Landvogt von Monheim , acquired Castle and Market Wellheim from the Margrave of Ansbach in 1458 as a hereditary fiefdom . His son Jörg von Helfenstein had a Gothic church built in the Spindeltal in 1477/78 instead of a dilapidated Marienkapelle, which quickly developed into a Marian pilgrimage site.

After the Heidenheim - Wellheim main line of the Helfensteiners died out (1517) and after his change of religion in 1542, the Neuburg Count Palatine Ottheinrich had the chapel profaned around 1550 , church implements removed and the roof torn down. This meant the end of the pilgrimage.

In 1727, Franz Ferdinand von Schwab, Lord of Trippach and Kastner from the Palatinate-Neuburg region of Graisbach , fell from his horse near the church ruins, but was unharmed. Out of gratitude, he put a painting of Mary in the ruins. Pilgrimages from the surrounding villages soon began again. The pastor from nearby Rögling , belonging to the diocese of Eichstätt , who had rebuilt the church on the old Gothic remains in 1729 and expanded it in 1747, fought for decades with the pastor from Wellheim, belonging to the diocese of Augsburg , about the pilgrimage income; The cause was the unclear location of the church. The pastor from the neighboring town of Ensfeld (Diocese of Eichstätt) also claimed the income for himself. After the Wellheimers had taken the victims again, the Eichstätt Ordinariate applied to the Augsburg Ordinariate on April 26, 1781 for the abortion. They agreed on a smaller solution, namely not to "demolish" the church, but to close it and leave it to natural decay. Since the pilgrimages to the closed church did not cease, the church was destroyed by the district judge of Monheim in 1783 in execution of a Neuburg government order. The land was sold to private. The pilgrim inn lasted until 1811.

In Rögling, the pastor had built a chapel onto the parish church for the Spindeltal miraculous image in 1775; In addition to the miraculous image, a rococo altar from 1750 with a depiction of Anna selbdritt and sculptures by the Eichstatt diocese saints Willibald and Walburga came from the Spindle Church .

In 1931 a buried Gothic Madonna figure made of Ellingen red sandstone was found in the ruins and taken to the nearby parish church of Ensfeld. After another dispute over ownership, she stayed there. The Ensfeld university professor Andreas Bauch , Regens of the Eichstätt seminary and professor at the Philosophical-Theological University there, had the rubble masonry of the ruin reinforced in the 1960s in order to protect it from complete disintegration.

In 1984, on a private initiative, a wooden cross was erected in the ruins and soon afterwards a picture of the Madonna was attached again. From 1985 onwards again a regular target of the faithful, the ruin church was partly bricked up again and provided with a protective roof, despite concerns about the protection of monuments , windows and doors were installed and benches were installed. In October 1996, the Eichstatt Bishop Walter Mixa blessed the now ruined church “To our dear woman in Spindeltal”. In 2005 the 10th motorcycle meeting of the Catholic rural youth movement in Eichstätt took place there. The annual motorcycle church service has since become firmly established. In 2006 a copy of the Spindeltal Madonna was placed in the church. The current church is considered by the diocese of Augsburg to belong to the parish of Wellheim as part of the branch church Gammersfeld. However, it is not owned by the church, but owned by a registered association (Friends of the Spindeltalkirche e.V.) within the framework of a lease agreement. Regular mass celebrations have not taken place at the latest since 2001 due to the personal situation in the pastoral care unit. However, the church can be used for chasal celebrations after registering with the parish community Urdonautal and having agreed with the association.


  • Fritz Rosenbeck: The Madonna from the Spindeltal. History of a Gothic gem from the Sualafelde with an appendix of folk tales, Eichstätt: Brönner / Seitz 1937, 48 pp.
  • Collective sheet of the Historical Association Eichstätt 52 (1937), pp. 28, 30
  • The fate of the Spindeltaler pilgrimage church. In: Heimgarten 26 (1955), No. 15
  • Heinz Mittel: The church ruins in the Spindeltal. In: Guide through the Wellheimer Valley and its history, Neuburg ad Donau, 1962, pp. 41–47, 2nd improved edition 1981, pp. 44–49
  • Heinz Mittel: 500 years pilgrimage to Mariahilf in the Spindeltal. In: Historische Blätter Ingolstadt 27 (1978), pp. 11, 15f.
  • Churches and monasteries in the Eichstätt district, Eichstätt 1983, p. 80f.
  • The Eichstätter Raum in Past and Present, Eichstätt, 2nd expanded edition 1984, p. 285
  • Festschrift of the men's choir "Concordia" Rögling for the 100th anniversary of the foundation with flag consecration from July 1st to 4th, 1988 , Rögling 1988
  • Otto Maurer: Our Lady of the Spindeltal. Contributions from history, Emskeim 1989, 2nd edition 1993
  • Anton Mayer: The Spindle Valley. In: Nordschwaben 18 (3) (1990), pp. 29-32.
  • Christina Grimminger: Ruin Church of Our Lady of the Spindeltal . In: The churches of the parish Wellheim , Lindenberg: Kunstverlag Fink 2002, p. (24)
  • Klaus Kreitmeir and Konstantin Maier (eds.): Rooted in faith and home. Festschrift for Ernst Reiter (including a contribution to the history of the medieval Spindeltal pilgrimage), Regensburg 2007, ISBN 3791720961
  • Sepp Vogel: In the footsteps of the Madonna from Spindeltal (in the Altmühltal nature park) , self-published hiking and culture guide, Dollnstein, 1st edition 2014

Web links

Commons : Maria im Spindeltal  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 48 ° 49 ′ 36.9 ″  N , 11 ° 2 ′ 14.5 ″  E

Individual evidence

  1. Motorcycle church service 2016 , accessed on June 11, 2019