In 990 AD, Willigis, Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, endowed a collegiate foundation in Mainz and had the church built as the “Empire’s Place of Prayer”. The constructor of the cathedral was himself laid to rest in St. Stephen’s in 1011. The new Gothic building was erected between 1290 and 1335. It stands on the foundations of the basilica built in Ottonian-pre-Romanesque style around 990. When the (gun) Powder Tower located nearby blew up in 1857, St. Stephen’s was also badly damaged. The rich baroque decoration was removed during the reconstruction.
St. Stephen’s is the only German church for which the Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887 - 1985) created windows. He completed his final window shortly before his death at the age of 97. Nineteen later and deliberately more modest windows in the side aisles by Charles Marq, from the Atelier Jacques Simon in Reims, serve to lead up to the masterpieces. Chagall worked together with Marq for 28 years.
Anyone who has seen the famous windows should not afterwards fail to take a walk around the most beautiful late-Gothic cloister in Rhineland-Palatinate. This was the place of burial of many of the 600 canons. Tombstones and the coats of arms of the capitular families recall their memory. The coats of arms are enriched by modern keystones donated by the federal and state governments, the bishopric and city of Mainz. Works of art, such as the enthroned God the Father from the 15th century, or the late Gothic sculpture of St. Anne, the Virgin and the Christ Child, should also not be overlooked. For some years in St. Stephen’s, children have been baptised in the original Gothic baptismal font from 1330 again.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.