Collegiate Church (Neustadt an der Weinstrasse)

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Collegiate Church of St. Giles

Collegiate Church in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse (the chimney in front of the small roof turret marks the dividing line; to the left is the Catholic area with roof turret, to the right is the Protestant part with the two towers)

Basic data
Denomination Roman Catholic and Protestant
place Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany
Building history
start of building 1368
Building description
inauguration 1383
Architectural style Gothic
Furnishing style Wall painting, funerary monuments
Construction type Vaulted basilica, sandstone block construction with double tower facade
Coordinates 49 ° 21 '13.9 "  N , 8 ° 8' 11.1"  E Coordinates: 49 ° 21 '13.9 "  N , 8 ° 8' 11.1"  E
Template: Infobox church building / maintenance / function and title missing Template: Infobox church building / maintenance / dedication or patronage missing

The Gothic collegiate church of St. Giles in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is the largest church in the Palatinate city, which was one of the residences of the Electoral Palatinate in the Middle Ages . The double church has a Catholic and a Protestant part thanks to the subsequent insertion of a partition .


The church stands in the center of the city. With the choir conventionally oriented to the east, it closes the medieval market square to the north from the potato market . With its two different towers, it is a landmark of the city that can be seen from afar.


History of construction and monastery

The collegiate church seen from the market square
Nave and choir area of ​​the collegiate church; The Catholic part of the church extends from the ridge to the rear
Evangelical part with the expressionist mosaic by August Babberger
Choir of the Neustadt collegiate church with the Jesuit high altar

Count Palatine Rudolf II ordered in his will to convert the 13th century parish church of St. Egidius in his Neustadt an der Weinstrasse residence into a memoria - a place of prayer and memorial - for the Wittelsbach family and wished to be buried there. After his death on October 4, 1353, he was buried as requested in the altar area of ​​the Neustadt parish church of St. Giles.

In 1356, the successor, Elector Ruprecht I , donated the Liebfrauen Collegiate Stift Neustadt as a memorial for the common family based on the will of his brother Rudolf II . In the founding deed, Elector Ruprecht expressly named as motivation, in addition to the ostensible purpose of the burial place and memoria, the concern for a solemn, frequent and godly worship service in Neustadt.

He had the Romanesque parish church of St. Giles extended to the east with a magnificent choir. According to an inscription on the pillars, this new building (today's Catholic part of the Neustadt collegiate church) was started in 1368; Master Marck is attested as a master builder in 1394. The main altar of the overall church moved a good bit to the east due to the enlarged choir area and the altar area of ​​the old parish church, where Rudolf II was buried, was now at the transition from the previous building to the new choir. In 1377, Rudolf's 2nd wife, Countess Palatine Margarete of Sicily-Aragon , was buried at this point (directly under today's partition wall) at the side of her husband. Gradually, a new nave with paradise and the two church towers was built in addition to the new choir . The church of St. Maria , who is traditionally the patroness of the Wittelsbach family, was consecrated as the “Church of Our Lady” ; St. Aegidius took a back seat as a patron saint. The 15 canons with an inful (= honorary dean entitled to wear a miter ) at their head had to pray daily for the Princely House of Wittelsbach, to celebrate mass and to celebrate solemn, eternal anniversaries (soul masses on the day of death) on the respective days of the death of various family members . For some princes separate "soul guards" were appointed who prayerfully mainly looked after the soul of a certain deceased.

The founder, Elector Ruprecht I, and his wife Beatrix von Berg were also buried in the collegiate church, but already in the new choir. Their graves are there in the aisle, identified by bronze inscriptions.

In 1556, Elector Ottheinrich introduced the Reformation in the Electoral Palatinate and forbade the Catholic cult. Under its last dean Laurentius Kercher, the monastery offered tough resistance, but was finally dissolved in 1566 and passed to the new Protestant parish. With this, the foundation's purpose as a place of prayer for the dead of the Wittelsbach family was forgotten. The Palatinate electors repeatedly changed their creed between Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed ; with them, the whole country and the collegiate church in Neustadt had to change their creed.

After all, the electors, who had meanwhile become Catholic again, allowed the earlier faith to exercise freely and had the few remaining Catholics in Neustadt initially looked after by the Capuchins , and from 1700 by the Jesuits . The collegiate church was used simultaneously from 1698. The Palatinate Religious Declaration of 1705 stipulated in § 17 that in Oberamtsstädten such as Neustadt, where there was only one church and not several, this was to be divided by a partition wall, whereby the choir always fell to the Catholics, the nave to the Protestants. The same was done in Neustadt; On November 21, 1705, the Catholics were given the sole right to use the (collegiate) choir of the church, while the Protestants received the larger nave with the parish choir and the towers. In 1707/08, in accordance with state law, both parts of the collegiate church were separated from one another with the wall that still exists today (current rear wall of the Catholic church area). The Jesuits had the splendid baroque high altar made in the catholic part (choir of the whole church), the upper yellow glass halo of which is modeled on the apse altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and they took up the prayer commemoration for the House of Wittelsbach. During this time, outstanding men worked here, such as the world-famous moral theologian Father Edmund Voit or Father Jakob Baegert , previously an Indian missionary in America, who wrote an extensive description of California in Neustadt , which is one of the fundamental historical sources there.

The Marienpatrozinium was transferred in 1862 to the neighboring Marienkirche , largely financed by King Ludwig I (Bavaria) . It was built by the Catholic parish of Neustadt because the choir of the collegiate church had become too small for them. So the old patron St. Aegidius stepped into the foreground of the now rarely used Catholic choir.

The division of the collegiate church continues to this day. The planned removal of the partition wall in 2009 was abandoned because it was concluded that both parts of the church have developed separately since 1707 (the Catholic part, for example, is baroque) and that on the Protestant side of the partition there is a valuable mosaic by August Babberger from the early 20th century is located. In addition, the monument authority has classified the historical separation wall itself as an outstanding monument of Palatinate church history. In 2010 the Catholic part was handed over to its diocesan parish of the Tridentine rite by the responsible diocese of Speyer .

In the pre-Reformation period at the University of Heidelberg, the dean of the Liebfrauenstift Neustadt automatically held the office of one of the four conservators who, as the chancellor's council, guarded academic rights and freedoms. Dean Heilmann von Wattenheim († 1411) also held the office of papal plenipotentiary for the privileges of the Holy See existing at the University of Heidelberg and the patronage parishes of the university, which are directly subordinate to him.

Because the construction of a new church in the second half of the 14th century was associated with the establishment of its own collegiate school , the oldest grammar school in Neustadt chose the name of the builder, Elector Ruprecht , in 1964 .

After the massacres of Christians in his homeland, Gregor Ata , the Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Homs in Syria , visited the collegiate church in Neustadt in 1861 to collect alms for his devastated diocese.

Funerary inscriptions from collegiate priests

In the outer masonry of the church, a total of 10 grave inscriptions by collegiate clerics are carved in different places, another inside on a column of the nave. They date from the period between 1450 and 1561. The most important person among them is the last dean Laurentius Kercher († 1561). The two latest inscriptions from 1561, when the pen was already on the verge of compulsory dissolution, are of the worst quality. In the last funerary inscription, dedicated to the collegiate vicar Nikolaus Schöneck from Iggelheim , who died on December 26, 1561, eight months after the last dean, it says that he was divorced from the world “with a spirit directed towards God, in the hope of a better one Time " .

Epitaphs of Elector Ruprecht I (left) and his wife Beatrix von Berg (right)
Elector's grave, today's appearance
Elector Ruprecht III. von der Pfalz (as German King Ruprecht I), painting on the choir ceiling
Elector Ludwig III. von der Pfalz, painting on the choir ceiling

Burial place and memoria

Five members of the Wittelsbach Princely Family are buried in the collegiate church:

According to the surviving 1st Seelbuch of the Liebfrauenstift there are also perpetual measuring foundations (annual memories) for a total of 13 Wittelsbachers. In addition to those already listed, buried in the church (with the exception of Margaret of Sicily-Aragon ) these are:

In the time of the Jesuits there was an additional memorial for:

A second Seelbuch, which possibly contained other Wittelsbach measurement foundations, was lost after the monastery was dissolved.

A “Last Judgment” is painted in the Gothic choir of the collegiate church. In addition to angels, the blessed and the damned, there are four Wittelsbach princes with their coats of arms who worship Christ on their knees. It is about Elector Ruprecht III. von der Pfalz and his wife Elisabeth von Hohenzollern-Nürnberg , as well as their son Elector Ludwig III. von der Pfalz with his first wife, Blanca of England . The paintings are contemporary, from the beginning of the 15th century, were whitewashed during the Reformation and were only exposed again at the end of the 19th century. They are immensely valuable as an authentic source of images for the portrayed people from medieval German and Palatinate history.

The house of God possessed a famous treasure trove of relics which, in addition to various saints and apostles 'relics, is said to have contained two thorns from the crown of thorns, a piece of the drinking sponge of Jesus of Golgotha, a preciously set particle of the cross with traces of Jesus' blood and part of the veil that Mary wore at the crucifixion and who was therefore splattered with the blood of Christ. Elector Ruprecht I and his friend, King Ludwig I of Hungary, have been passed down as their main donors . The sanctuaries were usually kept under strict lock and key in the specially developed ground floor chapel of the south tower and were in a valuable container; on certain days their solemn exhibition took place. Because of the relics given to Neustadt from Hungary , the Seelbuch lists the Wittelsbach annual memorials as well as two other memorials for King Ludwig I of Hungary and his wife Elisabeth of Bosnia as special benefactors of the monastery. They are the parents of St. Hedwig of Anjou .

The community of the Tridentine rite , located in the Catholic part of the church in 2010, revived the original donor intention as a memoria of the Palatinate-Bavarian ruling house and combined the old measuring foundations, in accordance with current church law, into 2 festive church services per year. Both the head of the Wittelsbach family, Franz Duke of Bavaria , and Alois Konstantin Fürst zu Löwenstein , whose family emerged from the Wittelsbach family , have expressed keen interest in it.

The founder's intention was resumed with a solemn "Wittelsbacher Mass" in the Tridentine rite on October 31, 2010, at which Alois Konstantin Fürst zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg and his wife Anastasia, a born princess of Prussia, took part as guests of honor and then as part of a Ceremony in the town hall.

Architecture and equipment


Medieval choir windows, now Palatinate History Museum , Speyer
Depiction of the Trinity , so-called mercy seat , southern choir chapel, around 1420
Engel , ceiling painting around 1420, uncovered in 2012 in the Prot
Maria Magdalena with an ointment vessel, wall painting around 1420, exposed in 2012 in the Prot
Remnants of the late Gothic choir stalls, around 1500
Chapter room above the sacristy
Organ in the Catholic part, behind the partition wall

The collegiate church is considered an important church building in the Palatinate. It represents a three-aisled , rib-vaulted basilica and has a strikingly elongated five-bay choir with a three-sided end. Originally, the building was divided into three parts: the magnificent abbey choir, the simpler parish choir and the basilica, three-aisled nave . A rood screen separated the monastery choir (today's Catholic part) from the parish choir (today's Prot. Altar district) with a nave. The now Protestant part of the church served in the Middle Ages - with a separate altar - for normal church services. The monastery choir (today's Catholic part) on the other side of the rood screen was not freely accessible at that time, but was reserved exclusively for the canons' services and the memorial system of the Kurhaus. One could not see into the abbey choir from the nave or the parish choir, but only see the upper segments of the painted choir windows over the rood screen.

Together with the already mentioned “Last Judgment” on the choir ceiling of the Catholic part of the church, a painted mercy seat from the first half of the 15th century was uncovered on the south wall of the southern choir chapel at the end of the 19th century . On the wall to the left of the high altar is a charming, life-size angel figure by the Neustadt baroque sculptor Georg Friedrich Schmiegd († 1753), which comes from the broken high altar of the parish church of St. Ulrich in Deidesheim . His son Konrad Schmiegd (1720–1780) is said to have created the figures of the local high altar later.

In 1928, the Protestant part of the interior was rebuilt according to plans by the Karlsruhe architect Hermann Alker . The choir mosaic there was created that year, based on a design by August Babberger , manufactured by the Puhl & Wagner company in Berlin-Neukölln . In 1928 and 1929, several glass windows based on Babberger's designs were installed here. In the ev. Choir area there is also the richly carved remainder of the late Gothic choir stalls (around 1500) with the donor coat of arms of the von Sickingen family .

To the north of the choir, towards the potato market, is the cross-vaulted sacristy. The main entrance to the Catholic part of the church leads through this sacristy building. Above that sits the cross-vaulted chapter house, which was once used by the canons for their meetings.


The two mighty towers of the collegiate church can be visited on guided tours. The 57-meter-high south tower, which houses an old clockwork, five bells and, in the upper, slightly recessed part, a two- story tower apartment , offers a 38-meter high panoramic gallery with a very good view of Neustadt and the mountains of the Palatinate Forest . The 64 meter high north tower can only be visited up to the bell cage with the two large steel bells.


From 2010 to 2013, extensive renovations took place in both parts of the church, during which high-quality medieval paintings were discovered and exposed in the Protestant nave in 2012. The high altar in the Catholic choir received its tabernacle , which had been removed in 1968 , as well as its cafeteria , which had been abandoned at the time , and was re-consecrated on October 17, 2010 by the Speyer Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann . After the people's altar was removed, it now serves as a celebration altar again. The baroque roof turret on the Catholic part of the church had to be taken down and rebuilt due to its disrepair.


The chimes of the collegiate church consist of seven bells that were cast in 1949 by the Bochumer Verein cast steel works . With a total weight of around 33 tonnes, the ensemble of bells is the largest chime ever made of cast steel; the Kaiser Ruprecht bell with a diameter of about 3.21 meters is the largest cast steel bell in the world and the second largest church bell in Germany after the Petersglocke in Cologne Cathedral.

In the north tower the two large bells hang one above the other in a steel bell cage, in the south tower the other bells also hang in a steel celebratory tower. All bells had to be hung on stilted steel yokes due to lack of space. The electrical ringing technology was supplied by Herford Elektro-Motorenwerke . Due to structural damage to the north tower, the big bell was not allowed to ring for a few years until it was put back into operation in early 2013.

The chime is to ring three prayer times at 8 a.m., 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Saturdays, Sunday is rung in with four bells instead of the evening prayer bell. The full bells only sound on high holidays. The elector bell announces deaths at 1 p.m. for 5 minutes. The clock strike is distributed over all bells: the bells of the south tower strike the quarter of an hour in a melodic form, the two north tower bells strike the full hours one after the other.

Dedication, designation
Liturgical function
( HT - 1 / 16 )
1 Ruprecht I, German King; as Elector Ruprecht III of the Palatinate. (Imperial bell) Holiday bell 3.210 14,000 it 0 –7
2 Rudolf II and Ruprecht I (elector bell) Sunday and death bells 2,550 7,350 g 0 -4
3 Zacharias Ursinus Drawing bell 2.140 4,260 b 0
4th Martin Luther Evening bed bell 1.910 3,100 c 1
5 Ulrich Zwingli Midday bed bell 1,605 1,760 it 1
6th John Calvin Our Father and Morning Bed Bell 1,430 1,270 f 1
7th Johann Casimir (Count Palatine Bell) Baptismal bell 1,275 910 g 1


Protestant part of the church

The organs of the Neustadt collegiate church have an extensive history. It is documented as early as 1422 that the Salve Regina was performed with organ accompaniment in the mass. In 1516 the famous court organist Arnolt Schlick tested an organ in the Neustadt collegiate church. In the Protestant part of the collegiate church, based on this important organ, a choir organ in the north German baroque style with 20 stops on two manuals and pedal was built by the organ builder Bernhardt Edskes from Wohlen (Switzerland). The commissioning took place on March 6, 2016. It is the first newly built organ from the Edskes company in the chorus (a '= 465 Hz) and is designed for interaction with historical instruments and their replicas. Since then there have been regular organ concerts with choir, instruments and soloists, in 2016 the first Neustadt organ summer with six guest organists from Europe. The artistic direction is held by the main organist and district cantor Simon Reichert. the Edskes organ has the following disposition :

I main work C – d 3
Drone 16 ′
Praestant 8th'
Hollow flute 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Fifth 3 ′
Octave 2 ′
Mixture IV 1 13
Trumpet 8th'
II breastwork C – d 3
Wooden dacked 8th'
Principal (from c) 4 ′
Reed flute 4 ′
Octave 2 ′
Nassat 1 13
Sesquialtera II
Dulcian 8th'
Pedal C – d 1
Sub-bass 16 ′
Octave bass 8th'
Dumped 8th'
Octave 4 ′
bassoon 16 ′

A symphonic main organ is planned, which will be built on the west gallery based on the former pneumatic Walcker organ from 1889 and should be suitable for symphonic music.

In the course of the renovation of the Protestant part of the church, the organ previously installed by the Oberlinger company was dismantled in November 2010 and transferred to the Bethelkerk in Genemuiden (Netherlands), where it was reorganized and rebuilt.

Catholic part of the church
  • The Catholic part of the collegiate church received a used organ from the Walcker company under Pastor Josef Hanß (1915–1925) , which was originally built in 1879 as Opus 363 for the Preparatory School in Blieskastel . The instrument is a rarity because it is still in its original condition. It belongs to the German-Romantic style and has six registers on mechanical cone chests . The organ was purchased in Blieskastel under the leadership of the composer and later Speyer cathedral music director Joseph Niedhammer , who as a seminar teacher played, taught and composed on it very often. It has the following disposition:
Manual C – f 3
Principal 8th'
Bourdon 8th'
Salicional 8th'
octave 4 ′
flute 4 ′ (overblowing)
Pedal C – d 1
Sub-bass 16 ′

In 1935, a bought, baroque gallery from Rheinsheim was built in the rear of the Catholic part of the church and the Walcker organ was installed on it, faced with a baroque prospect by the organ builder Johann Ignaz Seuffert from 1788, also from the church of Rheinsheim / Baden and since 1893 in Mechtersheim .


  • Franz Xaver Remling : “Documented history of the former abbeys and monasteries in what is now Rhine Bavaria” , Volume 1 , 1836; Scan from the source
  • Lukas Grünenwald : "Wittelsbach monuments and memorials in the collegiate church in Neustadt an der Haardt" ; in communications of the Historical Association of the Palatinate , Volume XIX, Speyer, 1895
  • Concrete: […] The renewal of the collegiate church ad Haardt . In: Wasmuth's monthly magazine for architecture . Volume 15 (1931), issue 11/12, urn : nbn: de: kobv: 109-opus-8391 , pp. 501–504. (Eleven pictures)
  • Alban Haas : From the Nüwenstat. About the life and development of the medieval Neustadt an der Haardt. Self-published, Neustadt / Weinstr. 1951 (1st edition; subtitles from the 2nd edition - 1964 - changed to "Neustadt an der Weinstrasse")
  • Gerhard Berzel: The collegiate church and the Marienkirche Neustadt an der Weinstrasse 1368/1860 . Self-published, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse 2006. ISBN 3-926775-45-9 .
  • Paul Habermehl: The Neustadt parish chronicle of the Jesuits , pages 60-61, Historischer Verein der Pfalz, 2008
  • Karlfriedrich Ohr: To the collegiate church in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. How to deal with a total work of art in New Building. In: Herzner, Volker; Krüger, Jürgen (Ed.): Mythos Staufer - in memoriam Dankwart Leistikow - files of the 5th Landau Staufer Conference July 1st - 3rd, 2005. Speyer 2010, pp. 141 - 152.
  • Dehio Handbook Rhineland-Palatinate / Saarland; 1972; Pp. 615-617
  • Anton Legner (ed.): The Parler and the beautiful style 1350-1400 . 3 volumes. Cologne 1978. Volume 1, pp. 234-235

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Source after Johann Goswin Widder, attempt of a complete geographic-historical description of the Electoral Palatinate on the Rheine , Volume 2 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  2. On the founder of the monastery and the purpose of the memoria for the House of Wittelsbach
  3. Elector Ruprecht on his additional motives for founding the Neustadt / Weinstrasse Abbey ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  4. Source on a Neustadt soul guard for Electress Beatrix von Berg ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  5. On the introduction of the Reformation in the Electoral Palatinate
  6. ^ On the Palatinate Religious Declaration of 1705
  7. Friedrich Burkhardt and Paul Habermehl: Die Neustadter Pfarrchronik der Jesuits , pages 60–61, Historischer Verein der Pfalz, 2008.
  8. History of our Church of the Ancient Rite. Website of the Catholics of the old, Tridentic Latin rite in Neustadt / Weinstrasse Diocese of Speyer. Retrieved October 7, 2012 .
  9. ^ Source on the office of the Neustadter Stiftsdekans at the University of Heidelberg
  10. General Collection of the Diocese of Speyer , circular no.349, of February 15, 1861
  11. ^ Silke Burkhardt: Famous grave monuments in the Neustadt collegiate church , Historical Association of the Palatinate , Neustadt district group, 1984
  12. Lukas Grünenwald : "Wittelsbach monuments and memorials in the collegiate church of Neustadt an der Haardt" ; in communications of the Historical Association of the Palatinate , Volume XIX, Speyer, 1895
  13. ^ Photo of the "Last Judgment" in the choir of the Neustadt / Weinstrasse collegiate church
  14. To the Neustadt reliquary
  15. Lukas Grünenwald : "Wittelsbach monuments and memorials in the collegiate church of Neustadt an der Haardt" ; in communications of the Historical Association of the Palatinate , Volume XIX, Speyer, 1895, page 140
  16. On the Wittelsbach memorial services ( Memento from August 26, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  17. On the connection with the Princely House of Löwenstein ( Memento from March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  18. Parish Church St. Ulrich Deidesheim, Festschrift for the consecration of the altar in 1987 , Kath. Pfarramt Deidesheim, 1987, p. 53 u. 54
  19. ^ The collegiate church on the website Urlaub in Rheinland-Pfalz
  20. Video recording of the beat of the clock (YouTube, 1'24 ″)
  21. ^ Homepage of the Protestant deanery Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. In: Retrieved July 14, 2016 .
  22. ^ Bau- und Förderverein Neustadt eV 2013, accessed on July 14, 2016 .
  23. ^ Edskes organ in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse , accessed on April 21, 2017.
  24. Website in the Walcker portal for the Neustadt organ
  25. Literature source on the Walcker organ, Opus 363
  26. On the work of Joseph Niedhammer at the Blieskastel preparation school
  27. Bernhard H. Bonkhoff: historic organs in the Palatinate (=  132. publication of the Society of Organ Friends ). Evangelischer Presseverlag Pfalz, Speyer 1990, ISBN 3-925536-27-2 , p. 112 .