Saint Paulinus' is one of the most important Baroque churches in Rhineland-Palatinate. Constructed between 1734 and 1753, the interior was designed by Johann Balthasar Neumann. The ceiling of the nave features a painting by the artist Christoph Thomas Scheffler. The tomb of the saint after whom the church is named, Paulinus of Trier, is located in the church's crypt.
Based in Germany's oldest city with a significant Roman history, three church buildings have stood on the site since the 4th century. Felix of Trier, a bishop of the city who held the post from 386 to 398, initiated the erection of a crypt and church on the current site of Saint Paulinus' Church, near a cemetery and just outside the walls of the city. Several centuries later, in 1093, a fire destroyed the building, but the crypt was spared damage.
Following the fire of the original, ancient church, a new building was constructed under Archbishop Bruno. Pope Eugene III consecrated the completed church in 1148. Smaller than the present building, the basilica featured a twin-tower façade with staircases either side, not unlike the balconies on the west face of the Cathedral of Trier, built for displaying relics to the public. French troops besieged and occupied Trier in 1673. In order to make space for an encampment, soldiers blew up the church the following year.
Sixty years after the destruction of the second church by French troops, Franz Georg von Schönborn-Buchheim, Archbishop of Trier, funded the erection of a new basilica. Designed as a single nave, probably by the architect Christian Kretzschmar, most of the internal elements were the work of Johann Balthasar Neumann, a significant Baroque architect responsible for several impressive buildings, such as the Würzburg Residence. Dates for the completion of the church are given as 1743 or 1753, but it was consecrated in 1757. The tower reaches a height of 53 metres, and the length of the building is 52 m.
Between 1802 and 1804, the monastery associated with the church was dissolved when assets were seized by the French, losing the church its collegial status and becoming a parish church instead. On 23 May 1958, Pope Pius XII awarded the church Basilica minor status.
As well as being the architect of the building, Neumann contributed his Rococo architectural flair to several internal elements, including the stucco work, ornate altars, and ciborium. The sculptor Ferdinand Tietz carried out several of Neumann's plans, carving elements such as the statuary and choir stalls. The ceiling of the nave features a large fresco painted by Christoph Thomas Scheffler, portraying scenes from the life of St Paulinus and depictions of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion.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.