Medingen Abbey is a former Cistercian nunnery. A founding legend ascribes the convent's origins to a lay brother called Johannes; the convent's history from its founding to the election of abbess Margaretha Puffen was formerly depicted in a cycle of 15 painted wooden boards, that were destroyed in the fire of 1781. The legend has it that Johannes claimed divine guidance in his quest to build the new convent. The community was founded 1228 in Restorf am Höhbeck by Johannes and four nuns who joined him in Magdeburg, but the group did not stay there. For unknown reasons, they moved on to Plate near Lüchow and later Bohndorf, before they eventually settled in Altenmedingen, where the first buildings were consecrated on 24 August 1241.
The military road passing through the convent yard presented an ever-present danger of attacks or arson, so the convent decided to move one last time, to the village of Zellensen, today's Medingen. The new church was consecrated on 24 August 1336.
1479 saw the advent of the convent reforms under the influence of the devotio moderna. Many convents at that time did not follow the Cistercian rule very strictly; nuns were allowed to keep their belongings and keep in touch with their relatives once they joined the convent. The Cistercian order was re-established and the prioress Margarete Puffen was made an abbess in 1494. After the reforms, a scriptorium became one of the focal points of the convent and to this day a large number of manuscripts found worldwide can be attributed to the sixteenth-century nuns of Medingen.
The Reformation attempted to be introduced in Medingen in 1524, was met with resistance from the nuns. They hid their confessor in the attic, publicly burned the Lutheran bible and almost faced the dissolution of the convent. In 1541, the Uelzen Landtag decided to ensure the economic security of Medingen and the five other convents nearby. This was in the nobility's interests, because their unmarried daughters could benefit from the livelihood and education befitting their status. In 1542, all of the convent's goods and earnings were confiscated and contact between the nuns and their family was prohibited. The abbess, Margareta von Stöterogge, did not give in to the demands of bringing all remaining property to Celle, but rather went to Hildesheim for two years, taking the convent's archive and valuables with her. It took her brother, Nikolaus von Stöterogge, to convince her finally to accept the communion under both forms. Eventually, in 1554, the convent became Protestant and from then on, the Klosterordnung (convent order) was defined by the Landesherr or territorial lord.
After the Reformation had been introduced, life changed drastically: The incumbents were now allowed to marry, but had to leave the convent when they did so. In 1605, they replaced the traditional Cistercian habit with an attire in accordance with the convent order introduced by Duke William in 1574. The Thirty Years' War left its mark on the convent and its surrounding area. A new convent order was introduced by Kurfürst (elector) George Louis in 1706.
Most of the convent buildings were destroyed in a fire in January 1781, although valuable possessions like the archives and the abbesses' crosier from 1494 were able to be salvaged. The ruins were demolished in 1782 and the convent re-built in the early neoclassic style. Completed in 1788, the new buildings were consecrated on 24 August.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.