Saint Thomas Church (Strasbourg)


Saint Thomas Church (Strasbourg)

: "For other churches with the same or similar name, please see St. Thomas' Church."The Saint-Thomas Church ( _fr. Église Saint-Thomas, _de. Thomaskirche) is the main Protestant church of Strasbourg since Strasbourg's Cathedral became Catholic again after the annexation of the town by France in 1681. It is nicknamed the "Protestant Cathedral" ("la cathédrale du Protestantisme alsacien", "Kathedrale der Protestanten") or the Old Lady ("Die alte Dame") [ [http://www.saint-thomas-strasbourg.org/index_f.html Presentation of the Church on the parish website] ] , and the only example of a hall church in the Alsace region.

History

The site on which the current church stands was used as a place of worship under the patronage of Thomas the Apostle as early as the sixth century. In the ninth century, Bishop Adeloch established a magnificent church with adjoining school, however both burned down in 1007, and again in 1144. In 1196, construction began on the façade of a new, fortress-like building with an imposing steeple, built in the Roman style. Interrupted several times, the building work was completed in 1521, in the style of the late Gothic.

In 1524, the church was assigned to the Lutheran faith (Martin Bucer served there as a Pastor [ [http://www.saint-thomas-strasbourg.org/textes_d/besuch.htm#bucer Bucer in the STC] ] ), a status which it maintained despite annexation of Alsace to the Catholic France. It still administers the primary and secondary schools "École Saint-Thomas" and "Foyer Jean Sturm", as well as the "Séminaire Protestant", a seminary located in the adjacent Baroque building. [ [http://www.epal.fr/epal_me/partenaires/html/chapitre.html List of institutions administered by the Thomas chapter] ]

The Saint Thomas church played a crucial part in the liturgical revival as the place where, from 1888, Friedrich Spitta tested new forms of church service, and where the "Akademische Kirchenchor" ( _en. Academic Chorus) was brought into being. Julius Smend came to preach regularly from 1893, and between 1894 and 1899, the "Gesangbuch für Elsaß-Lothringen" ( _en. Hymn Book for Alsace-Lorraine) was developed there.

On May 7, 2006, the church was the place of the official celebration for the creation of the "Union des églises protestantes d'Alsace et de Lorraine" (Union of the Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine), or UEPAL.

Architecture

The Saint Thomas church is a five-naved hall church, the oldest of south-west Germany. Inside it is approximately 65 metres long and 30 metres wide, with a height of 22m (30m under the late-Gothic cupola). There is a gallery on the left outer aisle, and chapels to the left and right of the apse.

Features

Organs

The church is internationally renowned for its historic and musically-significant organs: the 1741 Silbermann organ, played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1778 and faithfully restored in 1979 by Alfred Kern; the French organist Louis Thiry recorded the Art of fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach on this organ. Another organ is the 1905 organ (installed in 1906) built by Fritz Haerpfer, following a design by Albert Schweitzer.

Tombs

Monuments at Saint Thomas church date from between 1130 and 1850. Most famous are the richly-decorated sarcophagus of Bishop Adeloch (1130) [ [http://www.webwiller.com/alsapix/PAViewPhoto.asp?AlbumID=1&Photo=159 Sarcophagus of Bishop Adeloch] ] and the huge, late-Baroque mausoleum of Marshall Maurice de Saxe (1777), created by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle [ [http://www.jmrw.com/France/Strasbourg/pages/Tombeau_Marechal_Saxe.htm Tomb of the Marshall of Saxony] ] . Among the many other remarkable monuments, the Renaissance tombstone of Nikolaus Roeder von Tiersberg (1510) is notable for its realistic depiction of his decaying corpse [ [http://www.webwiller.com/alsapix/PAViewPhoto.asp?ID=499 Tombstone of Nikolaus Roeder] ] . Roeder had been the donor of the .

Frescos

A late-Gothic representation of Saint Michael is, after the Saint Christopher in Wissembourg, the largest of its kind in France.

Stained-glass windows

Of the medieval leaded windows, only the rose at the front of the church remains intact [ [http://www.jmrw.com/France/Strasbourg/pages/Rosace_Saint_Thomas.htm Close-up of the rose-window] ] . In the nave, the upper parts of the windows are lavishly decorated with architectural and botanical motifs. The representations of saints that were originally found below were destroyed in the 16th century by Protestant iconoclasts. The choir windows are of a contemporary style.

References

External links

*Structurae|id=s0028044|title=Saint Thomas' Church
*archINFORM|projekte|12484
* [http://infopuq.uquebec.ca/~uss1010/orgues/france/strasbourgst.html#English History and description of the organs]
* [http://www.saint-thomas-strasbourg.org/index_f.html Website of the church community] fr icon, de icon


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