Clear ship in the house of god

It was the furious finale before a lengthy hiatus. The closing service of the "Pueri Cantores" festival was one of the last great masses in Wurzburg's St. Kilian's Cathedral. One week later, the cathedral closes – for the next 16 months.

The church, which was destroyed in the war and rebuilt in 1967, will be completely renovated inside. The door does not open again, in keeping with the church year, until 1. Advent 2012. Hundreds of meters of cable for a new electrical installation will be laid, heating and floor will also have to be replaced. Above all, however, the interior of the cathedral is getting a new color. It should become brighter, says the art consultant of the diocese, Jurgen Lenssen. The aim is to achieve a uniform appearance that no longer distinguishes between the various Romanesque and Baroque parts of the house of God. An area the size of three soccer fields is being scaffolded for this purpose.

Complex are the ies around funding, which the state and church have to share. But who pays for which meter of renovation is not so easy to determine. The baroque decoration does not count as part of the building load, except for those stuccos that are framed by baroque surfaces and applied directly to the walls. In any case, the diocesan art consultant Jurgen Lenssen already wishes the person who will have to capture this. "We're talking about every little frame here," he quips. "Perhaps we get then as with Stift Haug a subsequent demand of 175 euros."

Million costs Bishopric and state jointly estimate 3.2 million euros. 2.2 million of which is borne by the diocese. The state alone pays for the maintenance, the diocese pays for all liturgical changes, Lenssen emphasizes with regard to the debate about church financing and gives an example: The cable to the loudspeaker is not at the expense of the diocese, but the loudspeaker system is.


Clearer, toward the bishop is to become the nave. The stone cathedra will return to the cathedral. Unnecessary ornamentation added during previous renovations – the last in 1987 and 1988 – will disappear, such as cornices on the columns of the central nave. The reconstruction is Lenssen's biggest project to date. Back to the character after the 1967 reconstruction, he said, true to "the legacy of Hans Schadel," his famous predecessor and church architect.

Traditional: dispute But in addition to such aesthetic subtleties, the cathedral chaplain sees above all a liturgical aspect in the upcoming changes. In addition to the Eucharistic assembly, the cathedral should give more space than before to the devotion of the individual. The small chapels within the cathedral would be gladly visited, explains cathedral provost Auxiliary Bishop Ulrich Boom. This had been too often forgotten in previous years.


Church redesign almost traditionally causes controversy in Wurzburg. This was already the case when the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. When its exterior received a new coat of paint a few years ago, it started again. He has to disappoint the journalists in this respect, Lenssen says this time. Church, state and monument protection are not quite as far apart on many ies as some people believe. But then he sends another snort after it. The lack of protests makes one wonder: "If they don't come, one has to ask oneself what one has done wrong."

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