Church of Our Lady (Bremen)
|Kirche Unser Lieben Frauen (Liebfrauenkirche)|
Unser Lieben Frauen Kirchhof 27Bremen, Germany
|Geographic coordinates||53° 4' 35” N, 8° 48' 27” O|
|Website||www.kirche-bremen.de Unser Lieben Frauen|
|Length||59 meters (194 feet)|
|Width||34 meters (112 feet)|
|Spire height||84.2 meters (276 feet)|
The Church of Our Lady (German: Kirche Unser Lieben Frauen) is an Evangelical Protestant church situated northwest of the Market Square in Bremen, Germany. Like Bremen Cathedral, today's building dates from the 13th century. Completed in 1979, the brightly coloured stained-glass windows are the work of the French artist Alfred Manessier. In 1973, the church was listed under the monument protection act.
History and architecture
The church was originally dedicated to Saint Vitus. It served as market church of the city and later also as church of the city council. Around 1020, a new building was erected of which only the crypt still exists, decorated with medieval frescos. The church was extended to form a basilica in the middle of the 12th century. Around 1220, it was consecrated to the Virgin Mary. From 1230 onwards, it was rebuilt in the early Gothic style as a hall church. A westwork with two towers was added. For many years, the northern tower contained the archive of the city council of Bremen, known as the Tresekammer. In the 14th century, the choir was extended.
The interior was seriously damaged by fire in 1944. When the new organ was installed in 1953, the acoustics were so poor that in 1958 the city assigned Dieter Oesterlen to manage the church's refurbishment. The residual medieval plastering and the remains of the frescos were removed, leaving plain brick walls. In 1966, the French artist Alfred Manessier was charged with redesigning the 19 windows that had been destroyed during the Second World War. Inspired by verses from the Bible, he embarked first on the design of the four main windows, employing brightly coloured stained glass representations with expressive linear patterns. Together they depict various manifestations of the Word of God. At the end of the aisle to the north of the altar, the Christmas Window is inspired by "The Word became flesh" (John 1:14), while the Pentecost Window at the east end of the chancel is inspired by the Miracle of Tongues (Acts 2). The Sermon Window symbolises the preached word: "We are ambassadors for Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20) while the Virgin Mary Window, a rose window at the opposite end of the church draws on the Christmas story: "Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). With the assistance of François Lorin from Chartres, Manessier completed his work in 1979.
Since 1220, the church has been named after Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. This name (Church of Our Lady) has been used by more than 250 churches in the world and by more than 150 religious orders or convents in Germany.
In Bremen, the name is widely used:
- the space around the church is named Unser-Lieben-Frauen-Kirchhof
- there used to be a cellar, northwest of the church, named Liebfrauenkeller, which was used as a restaurant between 1948 and 2002 (ice cream parlour, confectionary Schnuchel, restaurant Liebfrauenkeller, Disco New Yorker.
- There used to be a school named Liebfrauenschule which was taken over by the city in 1901 and subsequently abandoned and knocked down. The school was situated in the second aisle of the church and extended into an annexe at the western side of the church.
- The Liebfrauen-Restaurant, between 1871 and 1891 at the northwest corner of the Liebfrauen-churchyard. When the so-called 18th century Bickhaus was knocked down, the restaurant moved to the corner of Sögestrasse and Queerenstrasse. It was destroyed by bombing in 1944.
The Liebfrauenkirche has two steeples. Together with the weather vane which has a height of 6 m (20 ft), the north steeple is 84.2 m (276 ft), the third tallest steeple in the city (the tallest being the two cathedral steeples). It has a width of 9.4 m (31 ft). The church clock is situated at a height of 37.4 m (123 ft). The smaller south steeple has a height of 30.5 m (100 ft) and a width of 8.3 m (27 ft). The roof reaches a height of 22.9 m (75 ft). The total length of the church amounts to some 59 m (194 ft) and the total width, 34 m (112 ft).
Moltke-monument at the north tower
An inscription explains that the equestrian sculpture of the Prussian field marshal Helmut Graf von Moltke at the west side of the north steeple was donated: “Helmuth v. Moltke / erected in his honour / by a citizen / of Bremen MDCCCCIX”. The banker Bernhard Loose from Bremen, the donor was unable to witness the unveiling of the equestrian statue at the facade of the garrison church in Bremen as he died on 31 March 1902. Designed by Heinrich Jennen from Berlin-Charlottenburg, the high relief was sculpted by Hermann Hahn of Munich in muschelkalk limestone. The inscription on the wall above the sculpture testifies to the attitudes of the period:
"He who armed and protected you
consider this, when you approach him:
Peace has to be supported by the sword
if you remain silent, the evil deed will grow."
War memorial in the memory chapel
After the First World War, the architect Otto Blendermann from Bremen and the sculptor Friedrich Lommel from Munich created the war memorial from light-coloured sandstone in honour of the victims of the Bremen garrison. It was inaugurated ceremoniously in the Chapel of Remembrance which had been specially created. The statue depicts the outstretched body of a dying soldier with coat and helmet. His left leg is slightly angled, his right hand firmly clasps the sword while his left arm is stretched back as if asking for help.
The organ was built in 1953 by Paul Ott (Göttingen). At the time, the steeple bay had been bricked up. As a result, the organ was situated on the west wall of the bay. In 1964, it was reinstalled in a new casing on the south aisle's west wall. The last readjustment took place in 1984 by the organ builder Karl Schuke, Berlin. At that time, the disposition was slightly changed.
The church has only one bell in the south tower, cast in the 13th or 14th century. Apart from that, there is only a clock bell.
Services are held in the Liebfrauenkirche on Sundays and religious holidays at 10:30 am. Founded 1945 by the cantor Harald Wolf, the boys' choir is recognized throughout the region.
- Database of Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Bremen #1180,T (German)
- "Unser Lieben Frauen Kirche Bremen" (in German). Orgelpunkt. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- "Gemeinde von Unser Lieben Frauen: Kirche & Geschichte" (in German). Bremische Evangelische Kirche. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- All height figures were obtained by indirect measurement on 3 July 2009, by J. Möhring. Before that, a height of 86 meters was indicated for the north steeple but it is not known whether his height included the weather vane.
- The total length and width were established from a satellite photograph in July 2009.
- Further information about the history of the organ can be found in www.orgelpunkt-bremen.de (Retrieved 30 October 2013) (German)
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