Schönenberg Church

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Schönenberg Church with Schönenberg House (right)

The Schönenberg Church, also known as the pilgrimage church “To Our Lady”, is located on the 530 meter high Schönenberg near Ellwangen (Jagst) and is an important church building in the East Wuerttemberg region .


The first church on the Schönenberg

View from the southwest of the towers of the Schönenbergkirche
Ceiling detail in the Schönenbergkirche

In 1682 the foundation stone for the church was laid by Johann Christoph von Freyberg (Bishop of Augsburg). The reason was the sparing of the city of Ellwangen from a devastating fire in 1681. The building was constructed according to plans by the architect Michael Thumb according to the Vorarlberg cathedral scheme and was consecrated in 1685. It served as a template for many other important Baroque church buildings, especially in Upper Swabia . In 1709 the church burned down completely after a lightning strike.

The second church on the Schönenberg

In the same year, work began to renovate the structure. This was finally completed in 1729 and consecrated on May 15, 1729 by Auxiliary Bishop Johann Jakob von Mayr from Augsburg . Until 1817, the Catholic theological faculty of the University of Tübingen was located behind the church . Today these rooms are used as a conference center for the Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese .

inner space

In the 49 m long and 23 m wide nave of the Schönenbergkirche, the stucco work is particularly impressive. It characterizes the interior alongside the high altar designed by Maximilian von Welsch. The peculiar choir of the church was created because the builders quickly integrated a Loretto chapel , built in 1639, into the church. Another special feature is the accessible gallery, from which the visitor is granted a wonderful view of the interior. Behind the high altar, an approx. 100 m 2 Christmas crib was set up as early as 1911 , which can be visited all year round and was redesigned by Sieger Köder in 2000. Stucco figures of the twelve apostles by Melchior Paulus blend harmoniously into the interior of the church. The 22 ceiling frescoes are by the Innsbruck-born painter Melchior Steidl (around 1665–1727). Above the organ he depicted the passage to the temple of Mary, followed by her ascension. In front of the choir we find the Annunciation to Mary and in the choir the combination of the Fall and the promise of redemption with the representation of the apocalyptic Virgin. The symbolic and allegorical representations of Mary in the nave and choir are remarkable:

  • Hortus conclusus (locked garden)
  • Stella matutina (morning star)
  • Arca Noe (Noe's Ark)
  • Lignum vitae (tree of life)
  • Fons gratiarum (Fountain of Grace)
  • Clipeus sperantium (protective shield of the hopeful)
  • Auxilium christianorum (Help of Christians)
  • Scala Iacob (Jacob's ladder)
  • Castrorum acies ordinata
  • (Ordered battle line for war)
  • Turris Davidica (Tower of David)
  • Foederis arca (Ark of the Covenant)
  • Rubus incombustus (unburned bush)
  • Speculum iustitiae (mirror of justice)
  • Radix Iesse (root Jesse)
  • Ianua coeli (gate of heaven)
  • Refugium peccatorum (Refuge for sinners)
  • Sedes sapientiae (Seat of Wisdom)


Organ in historical arched case

The organ was built in 1975 by the organ builder Paul Peter Köberle (Schwäbisch Gmünd). The case built by Allgaier in 1711 (figures by M. Paulus) was reused.

I Hauptwerk C – g 3
1. Dumped 16 ′
2. Principal 8th'
3. Wooden flute 8th'
4th octave 4 ′
5. Black viola 4 ′
6th recorder 2 ′
7th third 1 35
8th. Rauschpfeife II
9. Mixture V-VI
10. bassoon 16 ′
II Kronwerk C – g 3
11. Dumped 8th'
12. Principal 4 ′
13. flute 4 ′
14th Super octave 2 ′
15th Quintlet 1 13
16. Septnonsquialter II – IV
17th Scharff III / IV
18th oboe 8th'
Pedal C – f 1
19th Principal bass 16 ′
20th Sub-bass 16 ′
21st Fifth bass 10 23
22nd Octave bass 8th'
23. Night horn 4 ′
24. trombone 16 ′
25th Clairon 4 ′
  • Coupling : II / I, I / P, II / P, sub-octave coupling II / II, super-octave coupling II / II
  • Playing aids : 64-fold setting system, swell step for Kronwerk

Importance of the house of God for the region

Today the church is considered to be one of the jewels of baroque architecture, which is not only characteristic of the region because of its prominent location on the Schönenberg. The pilgrimage has a long tradition for the important Catholic and Orthodox Marian pilgrimage site . Coming from Ellwangen, the path to the Schönenbergkirche leads up a steep avenue of lime trees past 15 rosary chapels.

The annual refugee pilgrimage in particular attracts thousands. Prominent pilgrims and keynote speakers on this occasion included the Federal Chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl .

The parish of Schönenberg consists of several suburbs and has been looked after by the Redemptorist Order since 1919 .


  • Hugo Schnell: Pilgrimage Church of Our Lady on the Schönenberg, Ellwangen . Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2002, ISBN 978-3-7954-4144-9 .
  • Alfred Sirch: Pictorial symbols in the Marienkirche on the Schönenberg . Schwabenverlag, Ellwangen 1997.

Web links

Commons : Schönenbergkirche Ellwangen  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 48 ° 58 ′ 19 ″  N , 10 ° 8 ′ 42 ″  E