St. Catherine's Priory was an important early Dominican friary. The buildings still stand, although there is no monastic community there; known as Ribe Kloster, it is Denmark's most complete extant monastic building complex.
The Dominican priory in Ribe, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena, was founded in 1228 by Dominican friars on property given to them by Tuve, Bishop of Ribe, only the second such foundation in Denmark. The church, dedicated to Saint Catherine, was built inRomanesque style with a simple nave and chancel of brick. They also built an attached conventual building.
By 1246 the priory was substantial enough for the provincial meeting of the order to be held there. As Ribe became Denmark's largest and most prosperous town, the priory was reconstructed and expanded in the early 14th century with a larger towerless church and a quadrangular set of buildings providing the friars with privacy from the rest of the community. The new construction was in the Gothic style. A large cellar was built beneath the south range. In the late 14th century the priory was sacked along with rest of Ribe: a papal letter enjoined the community and monks to reconstruct it.
Construction continued through the 15th century as the church was expanded to three aisles and the ranges lengthened to their present size. Then fire ravaged part of the buildings and reconstruction was encouraged by the pope himself. Christian I gave a substantial amount of money to the priory in 1480. A covered cloister was built, and several outbuildings were constructed nearby.
By the late 1520s many Danes wanted an end to the many tithes, fees, rents, forced work, and endless requests for food, clothing, and money by the Catholic Church. Their anger was first vented on what they nicknamed the 'beggar monks' (Danish: tiggermunke), the Franciscan and Dominican friars. In Ribe the Franciscans were ejected first, then the Dominicans were expelled from the priory; some become laymen and remained in Denmark, while others left the country for Dominican houses in central Europe.
Denmark became a Lutheran state in 1536 in the Reformation. All religious houses and their income properties reverted to the crown. The priory church was converted for use as Ribe's second parish church, which it remains, still called St. Catherine's. The other monastic and religious communities in Ribe were all closed.
The Dominican priory was converted for use as the city hospital in 1543 by order of Christian III for the care of the sick, poor and weak, and remained so for many years. In about 1600 part of the former conventual buildings was turned into the cathedral school. In the 18th century the eastern range began to fall down and was demolished. Part of the hospital was used as a lunatic asylum until 1860.
By 1825 the buildings were in need of serious repair and an extensive restoration was conducted to preserve them. In 1865 the entire hospital was converted into apartments for the elderly poor. In 1918 the entire complex was restored once again to what architects believed was the original appearance. The church restoration to its Gothic origins was finally complete and a tower added for the first time.References:
The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.