St. Andrew's Church, Lutherstadt Eisleben

Location

St. Andrew's Church is the largest and most stately church in Lutherstadt Eisleben; the most striking dominant urban landmark, it rises up on a hill in the centre of the city to the west, behind the late-Gothic old town hall [Altstädter Rathaus] and above the market square. The mighty north tower – which is also the city’s highest church tower – as well as the leaner west towers, which enframe the entrance portal on both sides, are a significant part of the cityscape. As the site of Martin Luther’s last sermon, as the place of activity of Reformation preacher and superintendent Kaspar Güttel, and as the burial place of the Counts of Mansfeld, St. Andrew's Church is a highly authentic witness to the history of the Reformation.

Toward the west, the church’s outward appearance is characterised by the slender, twin towers with octagonal tower shafts and Baroque canopy with attached lantern. The interior of the church is impressive for the hall-like character of the nave. The vault above the interior shows a lively variety of Gothic shapes.

Extremely remarkable fittings dating particularly to the late Gothic era and the Renaissance have been preserved in the church. These bear witness to social upheavals during the Reformation era while at the same time demonstrating the preservation of wealth gained in the mining industry. Hanging from one of the pillars of the central nave is the late Gothic, wooden pulpit dating to the early 16th-century from which Martin Luther delivered his last four sermons. This famous pulpit is known as the ‘Luther pulpit’.

History

The upheavals involved in a transition from a Roman Catholic to a Lutheran church can be seen in the Church of St. Andreas. St. Andreas is intimately linked to the struggle for the success of the Reformation. At the behest of Count Albert VII, Kaspar Güttel was appointed preacher and superintendent of the Church and Parish of St. Andrew's. It was in this place that he contributed significantly to the further spread of the Protestant faith in Eisleben. The family of Counts of Mansfeld were divided into different faiths: Roman Catholic and Reformation. Martin Luther was involved in the compromise negotiated, which permitted the celebration of Catholic and Protestant services in the same place, but at different times of day; he was repeatedly brought in as an advisor by the Counts of Mansfeld. Luther delivered his last four sermons from the painted wooden pulpit that is still preserved in the nave.

Extensive new building of the church began in the second quarter of the 15th century. Several altar consecrations between 1433 and 1483, as well as three letters of indulgence from the year 1497, make reference to the conclusion of this construction work. The two side choirs were added at the end of the 15th century. Fires in the city in the 15th and the 17th centuries necessitated restoration and repair work. Fittings removed in the 19th century – such as the wings of the altarpiece, the figures of the Apostles from the pulpit, the baptismal font and mediaeval sculptures – were restored and reinstated in 1970.

Significance

In its wealth of furnishings, St. Andrew's Church attests to the prosperity of the region and thus represents an important document of the economic and social setting of the Reformation. The ‘Luther Pulpit’ bears a continuing material witness that is very closely linked to this day with the biography of the main reformer.

The high regard in which the Reformation is held in this church is manifested in material form not least by the display of bronze busts of Luther and Melanchthon created in 1817 by Johann Gottfried Schadow on the basis of Cranach’s paintings. These are the first busts of the two reformers intended for public display.

St. Andrew's is the authentic-auratic centre of the ecclesiastical commemoration of the Reformation in the home region of Luther. It was here that Luther delivered the final four sermons of his life, here that he ordained two ministers, and here that he lay in state after his death before his remains were transferred to the Castle Church in Wittenberg by way of Halle (Saale). Accordingly, the church is connected to key events in the life of Martin Luther. It was also here that the conflicts were played out within the sovereign family, the counts of Mansfeld, some of whom became Protestant while some remained Catholic. Luther was involved in the dispute as an advisor and managed to organise Protestant and Catholic church services at different times of the day. St. Andrew's became a place of remembrance for Protestants even during Luther’s lifetime, and it remains so to this day.

Contact

Protestant Congregation of St. Andreas-Nicolai-Petri
Andreaskirchplatz 11
06295 Lutherstadt Eisleben
Germany

Tel. +49(0)375-602229
ev_pfarramt_anp_lu_eisleben@web.de
http://www.kirche-in-eisleben.de/english.html