Church of Our Lady

Aarhus, Denmark

The Church of Our Lady is one of the largest churches of Aarhus, Denmark. The church was originally known as St. Nicholas' Church but was expanded by the construction of a Dominican priory in 1240, the Vor Frue Kloster (Our Lady's Priory), of which the present church formed the southern wing. After the Reformation in Denmark, the name was changed to the Church of Our Lady and King Christian III decreed that the surrounding buildings, formerly a priory of the Dominicans, should function as a hospital for the sick and poor. The church was subsequently granted congregational privileges which officially made it a centre for clerical activities in its area.

Between 1250 and 1500 the church was heavily expanded by the addition of, among other things, the large tower. In the 1950s a crypt-church was rediscovered beneath the church during renovations. The crypt church dates to approximately 1060 AD. The church has since been renovated again in 2000.

Crypt church

The crypt church is the oldest extant stone church in Scandinavia. Built in 1060 after the old wooden church had been burned in an assault on the town, the church is situated beneath the main building of the Church of Our Lady. After its discovery in the 1950s, it was restored and reopened on 10 November 1957 and is now used for mass once a week.

During the restoration by the Danish National Museum, two graves were found - one of a child and one of an adult - and 23 coins from the 14th century. Five of these coins were from Lübeck and the rest from Hamburg.

The crypt church was initially built as an attempt to weaken Adalbert, archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, who had considerable influence on Danish clerical matters, as the head of the Danish church. Svend Estridsen (1047–1074) divided Denmark into 8 bishoprics, and in 1060, Christian became the first bishop of Aarhus. The crypt church was built the same year.

Around 1080, a new and larger church was built here, named after Saint Nicholas, just like numerous other Danish churches of the time. In 1180, it was mentioned as Aarhus' first cathedral, but was demolished when the Dominicans came to town.

There is no historic information about the crypt church from the following centuries. At some point the rooms were walled off and used as a storage room, until the church itself was forgotten.

Priory

The exact year for the erection of the Dominican priory is not known. Different sources point both to the years 1227 and 1239; it is generally assumed that the priory was fully established by approximately 1240.

The priory was separated from the Church of Our Lady during the Reformation, when King Christian III (1534–1559) decided that the church should function as a parish church, while the other priory buildings should be used as a hospital and poor house. In 1888 part of the former priory was converted into a chapel for the residents of the building, then as now principally the elderly.

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1060
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cochem Castle

The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.

Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.

In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.