St. Martini (Bremen)

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North-east side of the Martini Church, seen from Martini Street
Weser side of the Martini Church, from Martin investors saw

The St. Martini Church ( Low German Sunte Marten ) in the old town of Bremen (not to be confused with the St. Martini Church in Bremen-Lesum ) is located in the immediate vicinity of the Weser above the shipping pier named after it on the Schlachte and is one of the oldest churches in the city. The late Gothic brick building suffered severe damage in 1944 and was rebuilt after the war. The building has been a listed building since 1973.


General story

Floor plan since the 14th century, above south portal with stepped walls, below north portal with Marienkapelle
Bremen around 1600 with Schlachte and Martini Church by Frans Hogenberg

The founding history of St. Martini goes back to complaints from the population, which has been growing rapidly since the middle of the 12th century (around 1200 around 10,000–15,000 inhabitants) about spiritual shortages. The Stephanikirche was added to the first parish church, St. Veit, today's Liebfrauenkirche, in 1139 , and it also supplied the villages downstream of the Weser. After the construction of the city ​​wall at the end of the 12th century, it was initially outside the wall, but its district also included an area within the first wall ring. On July 31, 1227 Pope Gregory IX ordered. the Archbishop of Bremen Gerhard II to remedy the existing grievances, which in 1229 led to the redefinition of the parish borders. In addition to Our Lady , the new districts for St. Ansgarii and St. Martini were assigned.

From (South) East: the left of the choir Neander house with stepped gable

The first written mention of St. Martini as an independent parish dates back to the year 1229. It was named after Saint Martin (around 316 to 397), who became Bishop of Tours in 375 and was later the national saint of the Franks .

St. Martini was on the island between the Weseram Belge and the main river of the Weser. This Martenswerder also formed the largest part of the parish district assigned to her. At first it was outside the city wall, which gave traveling merchants and ship crews the opportunity to go to church even after the city ​​gate (Fischertor - porta piscatorum, later the First Battle Gate ) was closed. Despite the construction of a defensive wall in 1371 on the river side and the repeated elevation of the floor, the church repeatedly suffered from flooding. This is also reflected in an old rhyme: Sunt Marten - wo de wind doer far; wo't Water döer geiht (Sankt Martin - where the wind blows through; where the water goes through).

The Schütting , which was built on the north bank of the Balge and on the south side of the market square , was the seat of the Koopmanns to Bremen , the merchants' guild and their powerful elderly people . For centuries, St. Martini was considered the church of the merchants and was also called "Ollermannskark" after the elder people.

Building ground

Because of its location on the banks of the Weser River, the building site had to be considerably filled up and fortified for the construction of the first church, and over the years there was an acute risk of collapse several times. The high water level in the church from March 1881 is shown by a sign in the front part of the south aisle. The Weser regulation made 1887 to 1892 had an effect in different ways: the lowering of the river bottom of the current decreased the risk of flooding in inland water. The massively increased tidal range of now four meters near Bremen's old town also causes the groundwater level to rise sharply twice and fall sharply twice within 23 hours. For the oak pile grid under the foundations, lowering of the groundwater level, as in all such cases, is a risk, because the wood begins to rot when it is no longer under water.

Building history

Tower and parish hall from the west

Initially, St. Martini was built as a basilica , mostly made of brick, while the older parish church of Our Lady was converted from a Romanesque basilica into an early Gothic hall church, mostly with sandstone facing . With a length of 38.60 m in its central nave and a total width of 24.50 m, St. Martini was the smallest parish church in Bremen. In the (south) east it had a main apse on the central nave and side apses on the side aisles.

Tower and adjoining aisle wall from the east

Because of the unsafe building ground towards the Weser, the tower was placed asymmetrically in front of the north aisle. At the construction joint between the slightly protruding tower and the north wall of the ship, the younger masonry of the ship has joined the older ones of the tower since the conversion to the hall church. The facade walls of the lower tower floor are divided into three large panels, each with a brick background , by pilaster strips and pointed arches made of sandstone. The tower floors above are faced with sandstone to the (north) west, the other three sides of the tower show brick there. Several of the windows are early Gothic each comprised of a diaphragm Biforien .

As early as the second half of the 13th century, the vaults had to be renewed because of the soft subsoil and flood damage. The sandstone ribs of the central nave vault date from this time. After the Schlachte was fortified from 1371 onwards, work began in 1376 on the conversion to a hall church with transverse roofs.

The oldest externally recognizable masonry of the church can be found on the tower. Archaeologically proven are the remains of the north wall of the nave and that of the choir, two apses and the bases of two arcade pillars that are no longer recognizable above ground.

St. Martini around 1734, south portal not shown

The conversion to the hall church took place from 1376 to 1384. It was in line with the general trend of the time, but it was probably caused by considerable damage to the aisles. Both side aisles were extended to next to the choir yoke and a further rectangular yoke and a polygonal closure were attached to it. The condition of the first south aisle to be converted was so bad that the building structure was completely replaced. After the south aisle and choir, the north aisle was redesigned. Subsequently, the central nave and southern aisle were extended to the line of the western tower edge by the middle of the 15th century. Mid 16th century south alongside the choir, the preacher house with a stepped gable of the Renaissance found today after his famous inhabitants Neander House called.

View from the choir room

Today's anteroom of the north (east) portal stands on the site of a Marienkapelle donated by merchants.

It was not until the 19th century that the western ship extensions were converted into the parish hall.

Today the tower has a 3.5 m high weather vane, a height of 62 m and a width of 9 m. The tower clock is at a height of 33 m (center of the dial).

On October 5, 1944, this late-Gothic brick building suffered the most severe destruction in one of the nights of bombing in World War II . All roofs, almost all cross vaults and the row of gables on the Weser side were in ruins. The spire and the bell system did not survive the firestorm either. Only the surrounding walls still loomed up.

On January 12, 1952, the reconstruction began, in which the Bremen government participated. After more than eight years, on December 17, 1960, the church was solemnly consecrated. The audibility of the spoken word is supported today with the help of an amplifier system.

The entire church building including the attached rectory is now 60 m long and 31 m wide.


The Martinikirche , Sunte Marten in Low German , was named after Saint Martin of Tours (around 316/317 to 397), third bishop of Tours .

In Bremen the name is associated with

  • the streets Martinskirchhof and Martinistraße in the old town of Bremen ,
  • the Martini School , which existed in the parish of St. Martini from the 16th century until 1886 when it was taken over by the parish,
  • the Martinian pier on the Weser, directly in front of the church,
  • the Martinshof from 1953, which, as the centerpiece of the Bremen workshop, is owned by Bremen and offers work and housing for people with disabilities,
  • Martinsheide Street in Bremen- Vegesack was named after the construction of the Martinshof's protective workshops in 1972 .


The treasures of the church today include the inventory that was removed before the war, in particular the organ front, which has been rebuilt in all details and original colors , the wooden pulpit with rich carvings and the two chandeliers from the 17th century.

The previously white windows were replaced by colored ones after the reconstruction. The Martin's window in the north nave, the eight windows in the choir and the so-called high window in the south wall were designed on hand-painted glass by the Bremen artist Elisabeth Steineke . The coat of arms windows in the side aisles are new creations by the Worpswede artist Werner Rohde († 1990).

Lost equipment

Some elements of the church interior that had shaped it up to the bombing were not replaced during the reconstruction: Although the inner city parish churches were the only ones without a collegiate church , the Martini church had a choir stalls before the Reformation . After the Reformation, galleries were built in so that all parishioners could sit down and attend the worship service. They improved the acoustics, but impaired the spaciousness of the hall nave.


The pulpit, on the left the portal to the Neander house

The pulpit is the most valuable preserved piece of furniture. An old document shows that "de nie predichstoel" (the new preaching chair) - so named in the invoice - was made in 1597 in the workshop of the Bremen "Snitger" ( carver ) Hermen Wulff. It therefore comes from the "Golden Age of Bremen". This turning point from the 16th to the 17th century, the city owes many witnesses of the local artwork that still exist today . Hermen Wulff is mentioned for the first time in 1583 and appears frequently in the account books of the town hall and St. Martini in the following decades .

On the sides of the richly decorated pulpit, which is divided by four columns, five of the seven virtues are represented as small sculptures in bold movement: cleverness , love of God , justice , hope and bravery . On the ornamental strips above there are angel heads, below masks and fruit pendants. In the course of time, the delicacy of the carving was hidden under many layers of paint and gilding; after the wood was exposed, a new color scheme was dispensed with.

During the general renovation of the church interior in 1980, the pulpit was placed back in the middle of the nave and a new staircase was added. Parts of the original pulpit staircase made by Hermen Wulff in 1601 have been added to the new spiral staircase leading to the organ gallery. From the sound cover , which used to be designed like a crown, only the five crowning ornamental parts are preserved, carvings from the late Baroque era.


The first organ of St. Martini was mentioned in a document as early as 1563. In 1603, the organ builder Marten de Mare from the Netherlands received the order to renew the organ. It was given a manual and a few registers were added. Hermen Wulff was commissioned to work on the new organ case in 1603-04. Particular mention is made of “dat posetyf ​​with the knopes” and for the year 1605 “a delenbret with lysts hung under the organ, the word a sproeck up made with gold letters”.

Organ brochure from 1619

De Mares' work did not last long, because as early as 1615 the Lüneburg master Christian Bockelmann received an order for a new organ with two manuals ( main work and Rückpositiv ) and pedal , which also mentions extensive decorative work that does not exist must have related only to the organ work , but also to the prospectus. It is unclear whether Bockelmann replaced the organ and the prospectus between 1616 and 1619 or only remodeled it. Compared to the pulpit, Hermen Wulff's “handwriting” is only recognizable in a few dainty figures and the current organ front would in any case be oversized for his single-manual organ.

The famous Hamburg organ builder Arp Schnitger repaired and partially renewed the organ between 1707 and 1709.

The organ prospect on the threshold between Renaissance and early Baroque is considered to be one of the most beautiful of its kind in Northern Europe . Its floor plan with the towering pipe towers, the many protrusions and recesses and angled angles dominates the west wall of the interior with its intense color scheme, the alternation of light, blue, red and gold tones on black or light grounds. The connection between earthly and heavenly Jerusalem is shown . Two angels and the psalm singer King David crown the protruding Rückpositiv supported by an ornate column . The heavenly city with its towers towers above it.

The organ from 1894 ( P. Furtwängler & Hammer ) was completely destroyed by the effects of the war in 1944. In contrast to the organ prospectus, it could not be outsourced. During the reconstruction of the church towards the end of the 1950s, the organ builders Jürgen Ahrend and Gerhard Brunzema from Leer in East Frisia created a new instrument. It has three manuals , a pedal and 33 registers and is characterized by a particularly colorful, mild sound with a pronounced fundamental tone and brilliant overtones , thus approximating the sound ideal of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the years 2004–05 the organ was thoroughly renovated and given a Bach / Kellner tuning. It is now considered to be an organ that is ideally suited for playing Bach's organ works . The sound spectrum ranges from the full “ plenum ” sound to the individual voices, which correspond to the instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque periods (such as the krummhorn , dulcian , trumpet or trombone ). This means that the rich organ repertoire from the heyday of north German organ art can find an ideal representation, supported by the excellent acoustics of St. Martini's Church.

The Martini organ has the following disposition:

I main work
Praestant 8th'
Drone 16 ′
Hollow flute 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Pointed flute 4 ′
Octave 2 ′
Dulcian 16 ′
Trumpet 8th'
II Rückpositiv
Praestant 4 ′
Dumped 8th'
Reed flute 4 ′
Octave 2 ′
Nasat 1 13
Forest flute 2 ′
Sesquialtera 2 23
Krummhorn 8th'
III breast positive
Dumped 8th'
recorder 4 ′
Principal 2 ′
flute 2 ′
shelf 8th'
Praestant 16 ′
Octave 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Night horn 2 ′
trombone 16 ′
Trumpet 8th'
Trumpet 4 ′
  • Coupling : II / I, III / I, I / P, II / P


Look into the choir
Vault of the apse

The elevated late Gothic choir, which faces east, was built between 1376 and 1384. Its two cross vaults have figural closing stones and each of the lower capitals shows a different motif. The expressive keystone in the vault of the apse is recovered from the rubble of the collapsed roofs , it depicts the blessing figure of Christ as judge of the world and, despite severe damage, shows the delicate chisel work of the stonemasons and sculptors of the time.

As an expression of the reformed sobriety and severity of St. Martini, there is only a simple Greek brass cross in the front part of this room , enthroned over a light-flooded "globe".

The dividing line between the choir and the rest of the nave is the wooden main altar with the heavy, bronze, seven-armed table lamp symbolizing the fullness and perfection of God . The large altar Bible displayed in the church services bears the following hand-signed inscription by the late jungle doctor Albert Schweitzer on its cover : Those who are driven by the Spirit of God are God's children. May the Spirit of God move people's hearts from this Bible, when it is read from it in worship, and enable them to be ruled by him .

Window in the choir room

The seventh window

The first window shows the story of creation . The fall of man and the expulsion from paradise , Adam works in the field in the sweat of his brow, Cain kills his brother out of disapproval and is driven out of peace into restlessness. The flood destroys humanity, only Noah , who builds an ark at God's command , survives the catastrophe with his own people and a pair of animals each .

In the second window the belief in the Almighty is named. A comparison of the old and the new covenant of God with humans. In the upper part of the window this is illustrated by Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments and their interpretation through the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ .

The third window shows characters from the Old Testament . It gives an understandable account of the prophecies about the promised Messiah .

The fourth window in its purple base tint shows the Annunciation of Mary , the birth of Jesus Christ, the wedding in Cana , a healing of the sick , the feeding of the 5000, the raising of Lazarus , the anointing in Bethany , the washing of feet , the kiss of Judas and denial of the Savior through Peter the suffering and crucifixion of the Son of God.

“Risen from the dead!” The fifth window is the Easter window . It shows the resurrection story according to the Gospel of John, chapters 20 and 21. The empty tomb, the apparitions of the risen Christ and his ascension into a golden sky, where the gold is supposed to express the wisdom and the kingdom of God .

The sixth window symbolizes the joy of Pentecost . The Holy Spirit pours out his light on the disciples from the Pentecostal red of the tracery . The four evangelists, Matthew with the sign of the winged man, Mark (lion), Luke (bull) and John (eagle) - whose symbols are also on the fittings of the church entrance door - write down their knowledge of Jesus Christ . The church emerges from the first communities of Peter and Paul . The Roman Catholic Church with its hierarchy is also represented in the pictures: Pope , cardinal , bishop , monk and nun . Life in the community is represented by the sermon , the granting of the sacraments , the work of diakonia and the entry of people into their eternal home.

The seventh window bears witness to the text of the Revelation of the apostle John chapter 1 verse 12 to 16. Among them are the angels of the Court and the Parable of the Ten Virgins , Jesus Christ with the children entrusted talents and the prodigal son displayed . At the bottom of the window, evil lies in chains in the form of a dragon .

In the eighth window , people from all nations come to worship the Lord their God. Above is a city with decorated gates and the stream of living water that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb , the heavenly Jerusalem .

Martin's window and relief

Martin before the emperor

The largest single window of the church is located on the east side of the north nave. It tells the legend of St. Martin in many separate pictures. The story of Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar pleading with him is also depicted in the medieval sandstone relief below.

In the window there is also the depiction of the officer's son Martin after he became a Christian and refused military service with a weapon. When he was accused of cowardice, he vowed before the Roman emperor that he would go into battle without arms. He is depicted without a sword or armor , only holding a cross in his hands, in the midst of the armed men of war standing around. Another depiction shows him as the founder of a monastery school and on the run across the sea on the occasion of theological disputes.

High window

The high window (Neander
window )
Portal to the Neander house with sable epitaph

The high window is located on the south wall opposite the entrance . It is reminiscent of Joachim Neander , who was the early preacher to St. Martini from 1679 to 1680, and his chorale praising the lords , the mighty King of Honor, which he heard for the first time . In the lower part of the picture you can see Neanders at the organ, surrounded by people making music and singing. Above that, trumpet angels and a bright yellow symbolizing the glory of God.

Coat of arms windows and epitaphs

The windows in the side aisles have the coats of arms of the builders who were in the service of St. Martini from 1376 to 1959. Henrich Zobel's coat of arms can be found in a window of the south aisle with the year 1591, the beginning of his office as a builder . He donated - elected Mayor of Bremen in 1597 - the portal with epitaph to the Neander house on the south-east side of the church, which the Martini preacher had to pass through when entering the church from his apartment for the 5 o'clock morning service for the rulers . The sable epitaph above the portal was completed in 1598.

A second epitaph on the south wall has been preserved, donated by the councilor Johann Havemann († 1578) and his first wife Gesche, b. Troop. Since the coat of arms of his second wife is missing, it is assumed that the monument was created around 1565.

Four other epitaphs were destroyed in the 1944 war:

  • Heinrich von Rheden, member of the council in 1600 († 1602)
Epitaph - created after 1602 - in a strict two-storey structure with free-standing double columns. Large reliefs with the Resurrection of Christ on the lower floor and the Ascension on the upper floor. Freely sculptured figures pushed out of the niches and the association of architecture.
  • Arnold Gröning, 1602 councilor, 1611 mayor († 1617)
Early baroque epitaph in a two-storey structure with lateral portal niches. The religious theme of the resurrection of the dead in the basement, above it the posthumous praise with a coat of arms in the upper structure, which also bore the coats of arms of the two women, Ilsabe Snedermann († 1614) and the angel Breden († 1626). The Gröning epitaph was one of the most monumental and lavish bourgeois monuments that emerged from the workshop of the master Johann Prange.
  • Johann Clampius (Clamp), 1595 councilor, mayor († 1611)
Sweeping “rococo” ornamentation and boldly moving figures of female and childish herms and caryatids .
  • Hermann Müller, 1612 councilor, 1624 builder († 1628)
Baroque epitaph overgrown with figurative ornamentation, free-standing virtues and mourners on volutes . Boastful with simulated marble and painted gold. Small sculptures and coats of arms in excellent craftsmanship.

On the south wall, to the right and left of the door to the church garden with its wrought-iron grille, lean against two massive wall tombs from the early Middle Ages .

Crucifixion reliefs

Two Gothic crucifixion reliefs are located in the side aisles and are also embedded as a copy on the outside of the church. The older one, with the sun and moon in mourning over the crucified, next to Maria and Johannes, was made around 1440 in the flat, popular manner of the early woodcuts .

The second relief, closed with a basket arch, which, with the compact arrangement of the three figures, corresponded to the late Gothic feeling, bears the inscription Anno Domini 1474 , which is difficult to read .


South portal with tympanum from the 13th century

The opposite main portals on the north and south sides are typical of medieval parish churches. In the first centuries men had to use the south portal and women the north portal. The splendid Gothic portal on the south side has a strongly profiled structure made of shaped bricks / shaped stones glazed in different colors and encloses a tympanum field with its side pillars. The tympanum and side posts are made of fine-grain sandstone , which was probably broken on the upper Weser in the Rehburg area.

The tympanum is framed by a pointed arch and a trefoil arches , in strong plastic relief representation Christ as judge of the world under a canopy with the opened book of life in the right and a bishop's staff in his left hand, surrounded by two angels, one of whom is a censer swings and at his feet the risen lift the lids of their graves. The depicted theme, Christ as Bishop of Souls, is very seldom found in Germany in pictorial form. What is striking is the discrepancy between the still very rigid depiction of Christ and the lively, moving one of the accompanying figures.

The time of origin of the tympanum is dated by experts to the second quarter of the 13th century. It belongs to the first construction phase of the Martini Church and is about as old as the sculptures from the west gable of Bremen Cathedral , which can be seen today in the north aisle ( clever and foolish virgins ) and the east crypt ( Coronation of Mary ). Today's portal walls, on the other hand, were probably only created with the conversion to the hall church, i.e. about 150 years younger than the early Gothic sculptural work.


Up until 1917, St. Martini had three chiming bells, of which the oldest bell, cast by Johann Philipp Bartels in 1772, remained in the tower after a donation of metal from the war until it was destroyed in the night of the bombing in October 1944. It was cast from the melting material of a damaged bell, the famous Susanna , made in 1393 by order of the councilor and builder Doneldy .

All bells delivered after the Second World War were cast by the renowned Bremen bell foundry Otto in Hemelingen. Thirteen years after the destruction, in December 1957, three new bell bells were delivered and installed. The largest c 1 bell intended to strike the hour with a mass of 2250 kg received the inscription written by Manfred Hausmann : “I want to honor you with every note, give us, oh Lord, peace as a reward. Destroyed on October 5, 1944 - re-cast in Advent 1957 ” .

Another sixteen bells followed in 1962 for the carillon . Of the total of 19 bells of different sizes, 17 are included in the carillon, 5 are also used as ringing bells. The two largest bells c 1 and d 1 are pure ringing bells. The total mass of all bells should be 9,500 kg. All bells were cast in the Otto bell foundry in Hemelingen , the glockenspiel comes from the Eduard Korfhage & Sons tower clock factory in Buer near Melle .

The glockenspiel can be played automatically with rollers and also directly via a keyboard . To produce the rollers, the melody is first played on the keyboard, whereby a hole is punched in a special foil for the corresponding bell for each note. During playback, metal fingers scan the film, make a contact with each hole and thus trigger the chime. The punching of new foils is becoming increasingly difficult due to the lack of availability of suitable devices, so that a switch to electronic control is pending, which has already taken place with the ringing bells.

The chime and play bells have the following tone sequence:

Nominal c 1 d 1 f 1 g 1 g sharp 1 a 1 h 1 c 2 c sharp 2 d 2 e 2 f 2 f sharp 2 g 2 g sharp 2 a 2 h 2 c 3 d 3
Chimes 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 10 11 12 13 14th 15th 16 17th
Chime bells I II III IV V VI VII

When the tower, organ and glockenspiel were inaugurated together on July 18, 1962, the cathedral and martini rang together with ten voices. The old town bell is said to be one of the most beautiful in Germany and has the following tone sequence:

church Dom Dom Martini Dom Martini Dom Martini Martini Martini Martini Martini
Nominal g 0 h 0 c 1 d 1 d 1 e 1 f 1 g 1 a 1 c 2 d 2

According to the chime , the church service starts every Sunday between 9:45 and 10:00 a.m. Every day at 9:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., the chorale "Praise the Lord" sounds on the twelve chime bells, which are supplemented by five of the seven bells.

In the Advent season , the songs are Power up the door, the gate goes wide ? / i or A ship is coming loaded to its' highest board ? / i hear. Audio file / audio sample Audio file / audio sample

Between Christmas and Epiphany day,From heaven high, there I come ” or “Praise God, you Christians all alike, in his highest throne”.

"With joy tenderly to this journey let us sing joyfully at the same time" or "Open, to my heart with joy, perceive what is happening today" are the songs of the Easter season , while at Pentecost the melody of "O Heilger Geist, come back" with us a “is intoned.

On all other days of the year the chorale that Joachim Neander created in St. Martini in 1680 sounds : "Praise the Lord, the mighty King of Honor".

Other inscriptions on the martini bells:

  • "I want to honor you with every note, give us, O Lord, peace as a reward."
  • "But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (F 1 bell)
  • "Hour after hour goes by, think, oh man, of its meaning." (G 1 bell)
  • "Come up, psalter and harp wake up, let the hymn of praise be heard." (H 1 bell)

Further equipment

Chandelier with Martin's shield (around 1650)
Offering box from 1766
Fresco from around 1300
  • On the fittings of the church entrance door are the symbols of the four evangelists , Matthew with the sign of the winged man, Mark (lion), Luke (bull) and John (eagle), which can also be seen in the sixth window of the choir.
  • The vestibule through which the visitor enters the church served as the Marienkapelle in pre- Protestant times. Here are the stone coats of arms of the councilor Hermann Müller (builder 1624) and the senior merchant Berend Vaged (builder 1627).
  • The two brass chandeliers, which hang down from the cross-vaulted ceiling of the central nave and the front of which bears Saint Martin as a so-called clip-on shield, are repeatedly mentioned with pride in old inventories and are Flemish works from around 1650.
  • The baptismal font made of sandstone , near the pulpit stairs, was until 20 years ago as a decoration in the church garden. Its time of origin is unknown.
  • The offering box on the first pillar towards the exit shows great artistic power . It is a work of the purest Rococo from the year 1766. The asymmetrical wall panel with the inscription Milde Gaben are rewarded by God is dignified with the vine-covered stone chest of drawers. This alms stick was probably made in the workshop of the most important Rococo sculptor in Bremen, Theophilus Wilhelm Freese.
  • The fresco to the left of the exit door dates from around 1300 and is therefore one of the oldest in northern Germany. It is the only illustration of its kind that survived the fire in the church in October 1944 to some extent, albeit strongly fragmented. It represents crucifixion group.

The Neander House with the James Fountain

The former pastor's house, an extension from the mid-16th century, nestles in the corner between the south aisle and the choir. The building is named Neanderhaus after its most famous resident, the early preacher to Saint Martini Joachim Neander . An inscription above the entrance reminds of him and his famous chorale:


The portal is inscribed and dated with ANNO 1639 and bears the slogan in the subsequently added sandstone walls with the semicircle archivolte :


On the front of the Neander House there has been a copy of the Jakobus Fountain with Jacobus , the patron saint of pilgrims , since 1957 . The original was destroyed in 1906. The replica created by Prof. Everding was a victim of the bombs in 1944. The cathedral builder, Hans-Henry Lamotte, discovered the remains in the building yard, had them patched up and installed in 1980 in the bell courtyard south of the cathedral. This James receives a wreath from the St. Jacobi Brotherhood on James Day, July 25th. The plinth bears the shell that characterizes the Camino de Santiago . The dates of the pilgrimages of the two James Brotherhoods in Bremen, the St. Jacobi Brotherhood and the St. Jakobi Majoris Brotherhood are carved on the base. The facade of the medieval St.-Gertruden-Gasthof, which stood near the St. Martini Church and housed pilgrims, was adorned with a stone statue from 1480. It is located in the Bremen State Museum for Art and Cultural History ( Focke Museum ) .

Spiritual life in St. Martini

As early as 1524 - just seven years after the attack of the 95 theses by Martin Luther zu Wittenberg and only three years after the Diet in Worms - Johann Timann from Amsterdam was the first Lutheran preacher to stand on the pulpit of St. Martini in the Netherlands . In 1534, Timann created Bremen's first Reformation church order , which he had Luther personally confirm. He maintained close contacts with the Reformation circles in the Netherlands, which remained in the period that followed. Among others, the Martini preacher Ludwig Crocius signed the Dordrecht articles drawn up in 1618/19 for Bremen , in which the theology of the reformer Johannes Calvin , according to which the earthly path of man is predetermined by God from birth ( doctrine of predestination ), found its expression .

In St. Martini, many faiths determined the path of the community after the Reformation . Well-known preachers in the Pietist period were Theodor Undereyck (1670 to 1693) and Joachim Neander (1679 to 1680). In the 19th century, Gottfried Menken and Georg Gottfried Treviranus represented biblicism , the literal interpretation of the wording of the Holy Scriptures . Treviranus was a co-founder of the Inner Mission , the Evangelical Alliance and the German Evangelical Church Congress ; he led in northern Germany the confirmation one.

In 1867, with Treviranus' successor, Pastor Moritz Schwalb , a change occurred that could hardly be imagined more dramatically. Schwalb represented a liberal , later even radical socialist theology, which was continued by the pastors Albert Kalthoff and Emil Felden until the 20th century . In 1904, Kalthoff invited the American preacher Anna Howard Shaw to speak in St. Martini. Shaw was probably the first woman who ever preached in a church in Germany.

The Martinikirche today

Altar, baptismal font, lectern, pulpit

local community

According to a long Protestant tradition, the parishes of the Bremen Evangelical Church are largely independent, as they enjoy freedom of belief, conscience and teaching. The St. Martini Congregation, to be regarded as theologically conservative, today represents the preaching of the “unadulterated biblical” word. Her confession, adopted in 1979, is based on the Heidelberg Catechism , the three early church symbols ( Apostolicum , Athanasianum and Nicänum ), and she is committed to the Barmen Theological Declaration of 1934. In 2010 it had a good 1,300 members. According to a media report, an average of around 300 people attend a Sunday service.

The St. Martini Congregation rejects the ordination of women . The church council refers to the community order. There is under section “VII. Service in and for the community [2] ":" ... This is how the appointment to the pastoral office takes place according to the Holy Scriptures according to 1 Tim 2,12  LUT . ... "

In June 2008, this even led to Pastor Sabine Kurth from Bremen-Walle not being allowed to speak from the pulpit or in the gown at a funeral service in the St. Martini Church. This rigorous demarcation practice of the Martini congregation corresponds to the theological agenda of the former Martini pastor and emeritus STH professor Georg Huntemann for a “professing church” in the “challenge of modernism ”: an “inevitable clarification of the Christian self-image” which “undoubtedly leads to to a chism within contemporary Christianity ”.

The rejection of the blessing of same-sex couples has been written into the church ordinance and is also published on the church's internet information on weddings. Parish priest Olaf Latzel put homosexuality on the same level as “ lies ” or “ greed for money ” in the media or from the parish pulpit, among other things with reference to the Bible . According to a taz report, the parish had given the homophobic theses of the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia , Jānis Vanags , a lot of space on its website in 2006 under the heading “Parish / town twinning” . In 2008, Latzel offered the German Institute for Youth and Society as the organizer of the heavily controversial seminar " Understanding Homosexuality - Opportunity for Change " the rooms of the community after the organization had to withdraw the event from the then Christival in Bremen due to public pressure.

If a deceased “was a member of the Protestant Church, but has obviously rejected or publicly reviled the confession of Jesus Christ”, he threatens to be refused a church funeral service in St. Martini. The community ordinance does not provide for regulations for the establishment of such a case or the possibility of appeal by the affected relatives, but that "the pastor has to take care of the relatives".

Church life

Church services with baptisms are held on Sundays at 10 a.m., and at other times on public holidays. Children's services are held parallel to the services, accompanied by a day care center.

One of the musical events is the hour of church music, during which, in cooperation with the University of the Arts, not only organ works but also sacred music in line-up with singers and instrumentalists are offered.

The church can be visited in the mornings several days a week after registering at the parish office.

Church leadership

The executive board in St. Martini consists of three builders who are elected by the church board from among its members. It implements the resolutions of the convention and the church council. Every year, one of the building owners takes over the office of the building owner. He is the spokesman for the community in public and presides over the meetings of the executive board, the church board and the convention.

The builders of the Sankt-Martini-Gemeinde are (as of 2020):

  • Jürgen Fischer - managing client, client for construction
  • Michael Franke - client for finances
  • Markus Marzian - building owner for administration


Well-known pastors at St. Martini and their time of service:


In 2008, the Protestant congregation denied a pastor from its own regional church the pulpit because the congregation refused to allow women to preach on theological grounds. Against the background that a woman was allowed to preach in Germany for the first time in St. Martini's Church in 1904, this attitude of the congregation within and outside the church met with incomprehension and criticism. The church also speaks out against a church pastor. I.a. the association of pastors in the Bremen Evangelical Church condemned the “pulpit ban” for women. The pastors' association is of the opinion that the freedom of teaching, belief and conscience of the Bremen parishes ends when women are banned from preaching. In a declaration in 2008, the association wrote that this would "leave the unity of pastoral law and thus the office of preaching."

In January 2015, the congregation came under fire again for a “sermon in which Pastor Olaf Latzel called the Muslim sugar festival 'nonsense' and the Catholic handling of relics 'dirt'”. The Bremen Evangelical Church publicly distanced itself from these statements, its secretary Renke Brahms condemned the sermon and spoke of "spiritual arson". The board of directors of the St. Martini congregation, on the other hand, made a public statement behind Latzel, who, however, apologized for any violations of religious feelings.

See also


  • Wolfgang Wehowsky (Ed.): St. Martini zu Bremen, A community and a church through the ages . Bremen 1960
therein: Werner Kloos : The older works of art .
  • Gerd Weiß (edit.): Georg Dehio Handbook of German Art Monuments. Bremen and Lower Saxony. 1992, ISBN 3-422-03022-0 .
  • Church guide St. Martini, extended edition 2003.
  • Revision / update of St. Martini (Eberhard Hagemann).
  • Siegried Fliedner: On the building history of the parish churches St. Martini and St. Ansgarii in Bremen . In: Bremisches Jahrbuch , Volume 44. Schünemann Verlag , Bremen 1955, pp. 306-317.
  • Friedrich Glänke: Bremen then and now . Bremen 1955.
  • Claus Heitmann: From Abraham to Zion, The Bremen Evangelical Church . 2nd Edition. Edition Temmen , Bremen 2000, ISBN 3-86108-619-0 .
  • Georg Huntemann : The other Bonhoeffer. The challenge of modernism. R. Brockhaus, Wuppertal / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-417-12570-7 .
  • Georg Huntemann : This church has to be different! End of the national church - future of the confessional church. Bad Liebenzell 1979, ISBN 3-88002-080-9 .
  • Bodo Heyne : Hospitium Ecclesiae, research on the history of the church in Bremen . Vol. 8, Bremen 1973.
  • Fr. Iken: Joachim Neander, His life and his songs . Bremen 1880.
  • Friedrich Krüger: Joachim Neander, From his life and work . Hilden 1957.
  • Gerhard Reinhold: Otto Glocken - Family and company history of the bell foundry dynasty Otto. Essen 2019. ISBN 978-3-00-063109-2
  • Gerhard Reinhold: Church bells - Christian world cultural heritage, illustrated using the example of the bell founder Otto, Hemelingen / Bremen. Diss. Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 2919. DNB access signature L-2019-333968.
  • Walter Schäfer: Georg Gottfried Treviranus . Verden 1963.
  • Hans Scheidulin, Werner Kloos, Jürgen Wittstock: Old churches in and around Bremen . Schünemann, Bremen 1982, ISBN 3-7961-1804-6 .
  • Otto Veek: History of the Reformed Church in Bremen . Bremen 1909 ( online at the SuUB Bremen ).
  • Eberhard Hagemann: The St. Martini Pastors in the Mirror of Bremen Church History 1525–2011 . Verlag Hauschild, Bremen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89757-497-7 .
  • Uwe Pape , Winfried Topp: organs and organ builders in Bremen . 3. Edition. Pape Verlag, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-921140-64-1 .

Web links

Commons : St. Martini (Bremen)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Monument database of the LfD
  2. Tobia Conrad Lotter (approx. 1750): Bremen with parish clusters
  3. For the older organs see Fritz Piersig: The organs of the Bremen city churches in the 17th and 18th centuries. In: Bremisches Jahrbuch 35, 1935, pp. 389–397.
  4. ^ 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 , here in particular pp. 48, 120, 192, 199, 200, 235, 378-381, 554, 558, 582 .
  5. Gerhard Reinhold: Church bells - Christian world cultural heritage, illustrated using the example of the bell founder Otto, Hemelingen / Bremen . Nijmegen / NL 2019, p. 556 , here in particular pp. 68, 113, 133, 185, 188, 189, 191, 221, 335–338, 504, 512, 522, 546 , urn : nbn: nl: ui: 22-2066 / 204770 (dissertation an the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen).
  6. Eberhard Hagemann: Albert Kalthoff - one of the most prominent "Bremen radicals". In: Detlev G. Gross (Hrsg.): Pastors in Bremen - Life pictures from the 19th and 20th centuries. Edition Temmen , Bremen 2007, ISBN 978-3-86108-596-6 , p. 90.
  7. Bremer Nachrichten of June 23, 2008, District Courier Mitte / Ostliche Vorstadt / Hastedt: “Once a pioneer - now under criticism”.
  8. a b Deutschlandfunk: Strictly believing. The Evangelical St. Martini Congregation in Bremen. October 7, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  9.,91,0  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  10. Welt Online on June 14, 2008: Bremen parish refuses pastor the pulpit
  11. ^ NWZ ONLINE on June 18, 2008 criticism of the ban on the pulpit for pastor
  12. ^ Georg Huntemann : The other Bonhoeffer. The challenge of modernism. R. Brockhaus, Wuppertal / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-417-12570-7 , p. 292.
    cf. also the “Bremen model” in: Georg Huntemann: This church must be different! End of the national church - future of the confessional church. Bad Liebenzell 1979, ISBN 3-88002-080-9 , p. 85.
  13. St. Martini: Municipal Code . Order of Spiritual Life in St. Martini, V. Ecclesiastical and Christian Marriage, Item 8. Accessed on January 20, 2011. ( Memento from May 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Homepage St. Martini: under → Casualien, weddings; Item 7. Retrieved on January 20, 2011. ( Memento from December 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Homepage St. Martini: Sermons for reading and listening, Sunday, 01.04.2009, 10:00 am . Audio file MP3; 19.9 MB, from 17 min 15 s. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  16. The web of sin. October 12, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  17. German Bundestag, 16th electoral period, printed matter 16/8022 : Answer of the federal government to the minor question from MPs Volker Beck (Cologne), Josef Philip Winkler, Hans-Christian Ströbele, other MPs and the Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen parliamentary group - printed matter 16 / 7917 - "Anti-homosexual seminars and pseudo-scientific therapy offers of religious fundamentalists". February 12, 2008, p. 1/4 (PDF; 111 kB).
  18. Snappy pastors. May 2, 2008.
  19. ^ Order of Spiritual Life in St. Martini, VI. End-of-life care and church funeral service, item 9. (No longer available online.) Convent of the Evangelical St. Martini Congregation Bremen, May 28, 2000, archived from the original on May 6, 2015 ; accessed on October 30, 2017 .
  20. The Church Council of St. Martini Congregation ( Memento from March 20, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  21. Hanni Steiner: The community of the month: St. Martini. In: Bremer Kirchenzeitung, published on May 13, 2004. There it says: “Compared to the violent eruptions in the history of St. Martinis, the past 50 years have been calm: At the beginning of the 1950s, the first pastor was quickly separated after the end of the war, Johannes Oberhof: A trip to the 'Eastern Bloc', a speech at the 'Warsaw Peace Congress' - that couldn't go well in the 1950s. 'A Stalinist!' says Jens Motschmann about this predecessor today. So, with the next pastor, St. Martini again turned around in the direction of a conservative attitude, which she has kept to this day. "
  22. ^ Against the ban on preaching , tageszeitung (taz) based on an epd report, July 3, 2008. Retrieved on March 13, 2012.
  23. Controversial sermon - Is the Bremen pastor now being investigated? ( Memento from January 28, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Radio Bremen , January 29, 2015.
  24. Original sermon as MP3
  25. ↑ Sermon text: Learn to cleanse from the foreign gods at Gideon . In: , February 3, 2015.
  26. Violent controversy about the pastor in Bremen. ( Memento from February 11, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: The Evangelical Alliance in Germany , January 28, 2015.
  27. ^ Statement by the board of the Evangelical St. Martini congregation in the old town of Bremen on the attacks from the press, politics and the church against our parish pastor Olaf Latzel in connection with his sermon on January 18, 2015. February 8, 2015.


  1. Height of the Martinikirche proven again by indirect height measurements on July 13, 2009 by J. Möhring. The older specification of 62m is correct. Furthermore, the height of the clock is determined.
  2. Determination of the total length and width via satellite image (July 2009).
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on January 9, 2007 .

Coordinates: 53 ° 4 ′ 30 ″  N , 8 ° 48 ′ 15 ″  E