St. John's Church

Bremen, Germany

St. John's Church was built in the fourteenth century as a Franciscan abbey church. Franciscans erected a monastery with a basilica in 1225 on the site of the current church. The monastery grew rapidly and the church was soon too small. As a result, a vaulted Hall church with three aisles was built in its place in 1380. The money for this came mostly from the many funerary endowments resulting from the Black Death in Europe, which killed seven thousand in Bremen.

In 1528, during the Reformation, the monastery was closed and Bremen's first hospital and mental asylum was built on the site of the monastery in 1538, with the approval of the monks. Church and monastery served different purposes; the church was used as a hospital church and sometimes served Protestant congregations when their churches were being renovated or repaired. From 1684 religious services of the Hugenots and later of Belgian religious refugees were held in the church. Until the middle of the seventeenth century, the monastery continued to serve as Bremen's hospital.

From 1802 only the choir was used in religious services. The nave was meant to be converted into a warehouse, but, due to the Napoleonic invasion of Bremen, this never occurred. The catholic community which was officially recognised again in 1806 acquired the church at the impetus of the council and rededicated it as a Catholic church on 17 October 1823, after restoration work. Using the rubble from the destruction of the monastery for hygiene reasons in 1834, the level of the streets around the church was raised by two meters to avoid floods; within the church, the floor level was raised by three metres. As a result a large cellar was created, which was rented commercially in order to offset debt until 1992 when it became the crypt. Raising the floor level of the church meant that the ceiling height is three metres lower than it used to be. The reconstruction of 1822/3 can be most easily be discerned from the lower part of the choir windows which have been bricked up.

St John is the only surviving monastery church in the city. Only Catherine's Passage in the city centre testifies to the existence of the earlier Dominican monastery and its church of St Katherine. St Paul's monastery in front of the city gates was destroyed in 1546 by military action.

The church building is a particularly clear example of the Brick gothic style. All three naves were covered by a single especially large pitched roof. The west gable's extraordinary form and size derives from this design. It is divided into three stories, which each contain pointed arch windows arranged in pairs. The base line of these windows is a line of ornamental brickwork. At the apex of the gable is a cruciform window with a star of David. This has been in place since 1878, when the roof was repaired and the new gable installed, surmounted by a stone cross. The star of David was probably included as a result of horror vacui. No other symbolic significance at all is attested in church documents. One can, however, suggest that that the star of David is symbolic of the Old Testament and the cruciform shape is symbolic of the New Testament. The two belong together and form the foundation of the church.

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Address

Lange Wieren 1, Bremen, Germany
See all sites in Bremen

Details

Founded: 1380
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Habsburg Dynasty (Germany)

More Information

www.bremen-tourism.de

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Maxim Bex (2 years ago)
Beautiful place to pray
Cristina Ceban (3 years ago)
They have wonderful toilets?
ziemah james (4 years ago)
Premium catholic Dom in the city of Bremen, Germany. It also holds the English mass once everything 2 weeks for english speakers in Bremen. One of the best for its integrational ability
George Calvin Tharcisius (4 years ago)
I've been to most beautiful churches and cathedrals but this church need more young people, more English language, more lighting decorations . Of course its peaceful.
Frankie Tun (5 years ago)
Sunday evening mass at 18:00, very good choir and organist. Mass is conducted in a short and sweet way. Good for any catholic christian to attend and pray. Every two weeks, English mass at 16:00.
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