||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (June 2011)|
Frankfurt Cathedral (German: Frankfurter Dom, officially Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus) is a Roman Catholic Gothic church located in the centre of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew.
Frankfurt Cathedral was an imperial collegiate church, termed Dom in German - a synecdoche for all collegiate churches used totum pro parte also for cathedrals -, and thus translated as cathedral in English. St. Bartholomew's is the main church of Frankfurt and was constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries on the foundation of an earlier church from the Merovingian time.
From 1356 onwards, emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were elected in this collegiate church as kings in Germany, and from 1562 to 1792, emperors-elect were crowned here. The imperial elections were held in the Wahlkapelle, a chapel on the south side of the choir (Hochchor) built for this purpose in 1425 (See the Plan to the right) and the anointing and crowning of the emperors-elect as kings in Germany took place before the central altar–believed to enshrine part of the head of St. Bartholomew – in the crossing of the church, at the entrance to the choir (See the Plan to the right).
In the course of the German Mediatisation the city of Frankfurt finally secularised and appropriated the remaining Catholic churches and their endowments of earning assets, however, leaving the usage of the church buildings to the existing Catholic parishes. Thus St. Bartholomew's became of the city's dotation churches, owned and maintained by the city but used by Catholic or Lutheran congregations.
St. Bartholomew's was seen as symbol for national unity in Germany, especially during the 19th century. Although it had never been a bishop's seat, it was the largest church in Frankfurt and its role in imperial politics, including crowning of medieval German emperors, made the church one of the most important buildings of Imperial history.
In 1867, St. Bartholomew's was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in its present style. During World War II, between October 1943 and March 1944, the old town of Frankfurt, the biggest old Gothic town in Central Europe, was devastated by six bombardments of the Allied Air Forces. The greatest losses occurred in an attack by the Royal Air Force on March 22, 1944, when more than a thousand buildings of the old town, most of them half-timbered houses, were destroyed.
St. Bartholomew's suffered severe damage; the interior was burned out completely. The building was reconstructed in the 1950s. The height of the spire is 95 m.
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