St. Marcellinus and Peter (Seligenstadt)

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Church of St. Marcellinus and Petrus in Seligenstadt, view from the southwest

The church of St. Marcellinus and Petrus is located in Seligenstadt in Hesse . It was originally the church of the Seligenstadt monastery and became a parish church after its secularization .


View of St. Marcellinus and Petrus (right) and the convent building of the monastery (left) from the convent garden (front)
Carolingian building fabric

The monastery church, originally commissioned by Einhard, was designed as a three-aisled pillar basilica . The original west towers were added around 1050 and carried a simple pyramid roof. The basilica was expanded in the 13th century, including a new choir . At that time the bones of the two martyrs were moved from the ring crypt to the high altar. With this conversion, the original apse and crypt were given up. The crossing received a monumental roof-top octagonal tower with a raised vault .

The church remained in this form for centuries. The Thirty Years' War severely affected the monastery and church. It was not until 1690 that the resources were available again to comprehensively renovate the complex - and now in baroque form. In preparation for the 900th anniversary of the abbey in 1725 [!] Abbot Petrus IV had extensive work carried out: Between the Romanesque towers, the church received a portal building with large gable figures in 1722: Einhard, flanked by allegories of the pietas (piety) and Constantia ( Consistency) - the group of figures is in the monastery garden today. A wide staircase, its balustrade and high base of the statues of both church patrons now led visitors to the old atrium . The crossing tower received a bell-shaped dome with a gilded and rotating copper statue of the Archangel Gabriel . The south tower was demolished in 1730 and rebuilt in a simplified form in 1736.

After the abolition of the monastery with the main Imperial Deputation in 1803, the monastery was taken over by the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt , which became the Grand Duchy of Hesse in 1806 , which transferred the former abbey church to the Roman Catholic parish as a parish church in 1812 because the previous parish church was demolished.

As a parish church, the building underwent one last major change after structural damage occurred: in 1840, part of the baroque south tower had to be demolished due to static problems. In 1865 the medieval north tower and the entire west facade were also demolished. In 1868, under construction officer Ernst Braden, a partially new building began. This was carried out in a medieval-historicizing manner, regardless of the baroque appearance, the north tower was demolished, the western facade was rebuilt in a neo-Romanesque style as an unplastered stone facade made of red sandstone , the baroque sculptures of the portal building were not reinstalled.

On August 22, 1925, the church was opened by Pope Pius XI. elevated to a minor basilica with the Apostolic Letter Historicis constat .

Between 1936 and 1953, the building stock was examined in several stages, followed by restoration and reconstruction of the medieval appearance in sections. In the nave and transept , the early modern vaults were replaced by flat ceilings. Following the example of four Carolingian windows in the transept , the remaining ones were reconstructed in 1938/39. The original windows were knocked out and enlarged in the baroque period. The base and transom profiles as well as the belt cornice in the central nave were restored according to findings after these too had been removed or significantly changed in the baroque era. The historicist furnishings and color scheme were also completely removed at that time. Further repairs in the period after the Second World War aimed to present the interior essentially in the architectural forms of the 9th and 13th centuries.


Neo-Romanesque west facade

Floor plan and location

The three-aisled basilica stands today on a cross-shaped (T-shaped in the Carolingian period) floor plan.

To the south of the basilica are the monastery buildings of the abolished Benedictine abbey , which are surrounded by a wall extending to the main front. The wall ends at the north transept, which is why it is not possible to go around the basilica.


Due to the history of the building, the exterior is stylistically heterogeneous today. After the renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries, Romanesque forms are dominant again today .

The west facade with the entrance area has three arched portals, a vestibule, two towers with a square plan and dates from the last third of the 19th century. A staircase leads to it, flanked by the baroque statues of the patron saints Marcellinus and Peter. The west facade has simple arched windows, oculus , pilaster strips and round arch frieze . On the first floor of the tower double-arched windows were used in the second, three-arched windows with overhanging arches.

Incidentally, Romanesque style elements also dominate. Adam and Eve by Stephan Balkenhol (1996) stand under a blind arcade in strong stylistic contrast to this architecture .

The octagonal crossing tower with tracery windows and high domed vaults is early Gothic and was completed in the 13th century. The hood and lantern are Baroque elements from 1722. The crossing tower originally had a pyramid roof. The copper statue of the Archangel Gabriel that crowns the crossing tower dates from 1743.


View through the central nave
Vault of the crossing tower

The nave consists of nine bays , the transept of three bays. Both are essentially original Carolingian buildings from the 9th century. The walls of the aisles were renewed in the 19th century. A two-bay extension to the north of the transept dates from the 11th century and was originally the abbey's archive . Today the Einhard sarcophagus stands there. The interior wall elevation is two-zoned: over arched arcades with strong square pillars lies an upper aisle with small, arched windows. The white plaster is modern, but the church was originally plastered white inside and out, but also brightly painted. Remnants of the original plaster are preserved in the crypt. Some "windows", unplastered areas, have been left in the modern plaster and show the Carolingian building fabric below. A high, early Gothic pointed arch leads over to the crossing, another from the crossing to the choir. The transitions from the crossing to the two transept yokes, however, are round arches. The vaulted dome over the crossing tapers up to an octagon with frescoes of angels. It comes from the reconstruction phase of the 13th century.

The choir from the 13th century with a yoke and 5/8 end was created in the Romanesque-Gothic transition style with a Gothic vault construction and strong cross ribs . These early Gothic components are closely related to the Marienkirche in Gelnhausen . The choir is flanked by two tower stumps that were never completed. The space under the north of them, the old sacristy , was renovated in 1993.

The former abbot's chapel ( New Sacristy ) south of the choir, which is now used as a sacristy, is a Baroque extension.


A walled-up Roman inscription of the cohors I civium Romanorum equitata on the south wall of the main nave (behind the figure of the Apostle Bartholomew ) shows that numerous spolia from Roman times were built into the church.


Shrine under the altar

At its core, the oldest piece of equipment is a Romanesque crucifix of unknown provenance in the chancel, which, however, was heavily modified by restoration by the local pastor in 1907. Arms and feet, the royal crown and color scheme are additions to this restoration.

The rest of the interior is baroque . In the nave, this applies to both the pulpit and the sculptures of the 12 apostles above the pillars' fighter plates.

In place of the former rood screen, the choir is divided by a gilded iron grille that Abbot Peter IV had made for the 900th anniversary celebration. It is only opened for church services.

Under the altar of celebration there is a shrine made of chased silver which contains the relics of Saints Marcellinus and Peter . The shrine, commissioned by Abbot Francis I in 1680, is adorned with acanthus ornaments and sculptures of the martyr families.

In the choir there are three baroque altars (18th century) from the Carthusian Church in Mainz . When their monastery was closed in 1781, the altars came to Seligenstadt.

  • The high altar, designed by Maximilian von Welsch in 1715 , is a canopy resting on pillars, flanked below by the four church fathers Hieronymus , Ambrosius of Milan , Augustine of Hippo and Pope Gregory the Great . John the Baptist , Joseph of Nazareth with baby Jesus, Rabanus Maurus and Bonifatius sit on the fighter plates . It is possible that the altar was once crowned by a mercy seat ; only the dove is preserved as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The work from the Mainz workshop of Burkard Zamels is considered to be a pioneering work of Middle Rhine Baroque.
  • In the center of the side altar in the south transept, in a shell niche, is Joseph of Nazareth with the baby Jesus, an Aschaffenburg work by Ernst Hofmann (1780), which comes from the demolished parish church of Seligenstadt. The other sculptures in the base zone and on the blown gable represent figures from the Old Testament: Moses , Aaron , Samuel and Melchizedech . The altar is crowned by God the Father in a royal ruler's pose.
  • The architectural counterpart of this side altar in the north transept bears an early Gothic sandstone Madonna and Child (heavily restored) in the shell niche and the four evangelists with their attributes as flank figures. The coronation figure is the risen Christ with a cross.

Two other baroque marble altars are dedicated to Christ on the cross and Saint Sebastian .

In the Nekrolog shrine, all the Abbots from Seligenstadt since Einhard are registered on parchment.

In the adjoining rooms that are only accessible with a guide, the following items of equipment should be mentioned:

  • Baroque marble sarcophagus by Einhard and his wife Emma, ​​decorated with flame vases and coats of arms (1722);
  • Late Gothic crucifix, around 1500, which was associated with the Tilman Riemenschneider School (New Sacristy);
  • in the old sacristy an oak cupboard (Frankfurt, early 18th century) with chalice, late Gothic cupboard with monstrances, crucifixion group and two sculptures ( Wendelinus and Leonhard von Limoges ) by a master Mathis , who is possibly identical with Mathis Gothart-Nithart .


Main nave of the Einhard basilica in Seligenstadt a. M. with a view of the Wilbrand organ
Spanish trumpets of the Wilbrand organ in the basilica of Seligenstadt a. M.
Stephan Wenzel improvises in the style of a Spanish entrada

The organ of the basilica was built between 1978 and 1981 by the organ building company Wilbrand (Übach-Palenberg) and refurbished and re-voiced in 1999 by the organ building company Hugo Mayer (Heusweiler). The instrument has 50 stops on three manuals and a pedal ( slider drawer ). The key actions are mechanical, the stop actions and links are electrical.

I Rückpositiv C – g 3

1. Wooden dacked 8th'
2. Quintatön 8th'
3. Principal 4 ′
4th recorder 4 ′
5. Principal 2 ′
6th Forest flute 2 ′
7th Fifth 1 13
8th. Sesquialter II 2 23
9. Spicy Mix III-IV 1'
10. shelf 16 ′
11. Schalmey 8th'
II Hauptwerk C – g 3
12. Gedacktpommer 16 ′
13. Principal 8th'
14th Metal dacked 8th'
15th Gemshorn 8th'
16. Octave 4 ′
17th Reed flute 4 ′
18th Chamois fifth 2 23
19th Super octave 2 ′
20th Mixture IV-V 1 13
21st Cornet IV 4 ′
22nd Trumpet 8th'
23. Chip. Trumpet 8th'
24. Chip. Trumpet 4 ′
III Swell C – g 3
25th Wooden principal 8th'
26th Viola da gamba 8th'
27. Vox coelestis 8th'
28. Reed flute 8th'
29 Principal 4 ′
30th Coupling flute 4 ′
31. Rohrnazard 2 23
32. Schwiegel 2 ′
33. third 1 35
34. Octave 1'
35. Fittings IV-V 2 ′
36. Zymbel II 12
37. Dulcian 16 ′
38. Trumpet harm. 8th'
39. oboe 8th'
Pedal C – f 1
40. Principal bass 16 ′
41. Sub bass 16 ′
42. Fifth 10 23
43. Octave 8th'
44. Holzpommer 8th'
45. Choral bass 4 ′
46. Night horn 2 ′
47. Mixture V 2 23
48. trombone 16 ′
49. Trumpet 8th'
50. Trumpet 4 ′


The bells of the basilica were affected by a bell confiscation for armaments production in both World War I and World War II . In 1925 the renowned Otto bell foundry from Bremen- Hemelingen cast four bronze bells for the basilica. On April 30, 1942, the current basilica bells rang for the last time. In 1946 they were found in the British occupation zone at the bell cemetery in Hamburg and identified as the basilica bells. After approval by the British military government, the Rincker brothers' bell foundry took over the return of the bells to Seligenstadt on behalf of the Diocese of Mainz. A convoy of five trucks brought the bell freight to Seligenstadt on the afternoon of July 16, 1947.

The ringing was subsequently extended by two bells. In 1950 the Otto bell foundry cast an a'-bell for Seligenstadt and in 1999 the Rincker company supplied a bell for the fourth tower.

The six church bells hang on three towers. The big bell in the south tower hangs in the wooden bell cage on the wooden yoke, bells 5 to 2 of the north tower in the steel bell cage on wooden yokes in the north tower of Hamm (Frankenthal) 1909. The small bell hangs in the crossing tower in the baroque wooden bell cage on the wooden yoke.

No. Surname Casting year Foundry, casting location Weight
(16th note)
1 Marcellinus & Peter 1925 Ferdinand Otto, Bremen-Hemelingen 3300 1740 h 0 -7 South tower
2 Maria 1925 Ferdinand Otto, Bremen-Hemelingen 2100 1440 d 1 -6 North tower
3 John 1925 Ferdinand Otto, Bremen-Hemelingen 1600 1270 e 1 -7 North tower
4th Bartholomew 1925 Ferdinand Otto, Bremen-Hemelingen 1300 1100 fis 1 -7 North tower
5 Laurentius 1950 Ferdinand Otto, Bremen-Hemelingen 650 980 a 1 -8 North tower
6th Benedict 1999 Rincker, Sinn 410 860 h 1 -7 Crossing tower


in alphabetical order by authors / editors

Web links

Commons : Basilica of St. Marcellinus and Petrus (Seligenstadt)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Remnants of the ring crypt were archaeologically excavated in 1937 and are preserved under the floor of the vestibule and are accessible (Dehio, p. 732).
  2. The tower of the old parish church is still preserved in today's Seligenstadt town hall.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dehio, p. 732.
  2. Dehio, pp. 731f.
  3. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  4. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  5. ^ Dehio, p. 735.
  6. ^ Pius XI .: Litt. Apost. Historicis constat , in: AAS 18 (1926), n. 4, p. 126s.
  7. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  8. ^ Dehio, p. 732.
  9. ^ Dehio, p. 735.
  10. Dehio, pp. 732f.
  11. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  12. ^ Dehio, p. 735.
  13. Dehio, pp. 733f.
  14. ^ Dehio, p. 733.
  15. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  16. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  17. ^ Dehio, p. 734.
  18. Helmut Castritius , Manfred Clauss : The Roman stone inscriptions of the Odenwald and its peripheral landscapes (RSOR). In: Contributions to the exploration of the Odenwald and its peripheral landscapes 3 . Breuberg - Neustadt 1980, No. 27.
  19. Dehio, pp. 735-737.
  20. On the disposition of the basilica organ
  21. ^ Gerhard Reinhold: Otto bells. Family and company history of the Otto bell foundry dynasty . Self-published, Essen 2019, ISBN 978-3-00-063109-2 , p. 588 (especially pages 45, 82, 310, 311, 526, 548).
  22. Gerhard Reinhold: Church bells - Christian world cultural heritage, illustrated using the example of the bell founder Otto, Hemelingen / Bremen . Nijmegen / NL 2019, p. 556 , urn : nbn: nl: ui: 22-2066 / 204770 (doctoral thesis at Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, in particular pp. 64, 101, 278 to 280 488, 505).
  23. Return of the bells 70 years ago: Large crowd on the market square in Seligenstadt. In: July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 16, 2017 .

Coordinates: 50 ° 2 ′ 34.6 ″  N , 8 ° 58 ′ 43.6 ″  E