Begun as a three-aisle hall church at about the same time as the town Ribnitz was founded, the oldest pre-Romanesque parts of the St. Mary's Church are located in the western outer wall of the building. Pilister corner strips, a rounded frieze and lanset windows are amongst other remanents of this first church.
In the 14th century, the church was enlarged by the addition of two bays, and decorated by the addition of peaked arch portals in the north of south of these. After a 1455 fire, the building was rebuilt with a pentagonal choir bay and a massive ornamental helm on the top of the spire. The Great fire of 1759 destroyed this ornamental helm, as well as the building's vaulting and medieval interior. Under instruction of the court masterbuilder Johann Jachim Busch of Ludwigsluster, the tower's roof and its interior was rebuilt in a Gothic style.
The centre aisle of the church was distinguished from this time on by a semi-circular barrel-shaped timber supports, the side-aisles by a flat wooden roof. Busch envisaged a pulpit alter, and after the pulpit was relocated into the church nave, the alter was completed with the addition of the Ludwigluster court painter J.H. Surlandt; the image is a copy of Annibale Carraci's 'The Burial of Christ'. The church's northern and southern side-chapels were never restored due to insufficient funds, with the foundations also removed. Between 1841 and 1843, Georg Adolph Demmler oversaw the addition of a latern to the of a Baroque-style tower crown, heighening the tower, which still offers a sightseeing platform to visitors. In the 1970s, the church was threatened by structural damage, losing once more much of its interior: the 1883 organ, built by Friese of Schwerin, was removed. After 1980, the church was renovated, the interior again altered and a winter church on the site added.References:
Stavanger Cathedral is Norway's oldest cathedral. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. Stavanger was ravaged by fire in 1272, and the Cathedral suffered heavy damage. It was rebuilt under bishop Arne, and the Romanesque Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic style.
In 1682, king Christian V decided to move Stavanger's episcopal seat to Kristiansand. However, on Stavanger's 800th anniversary in 1925, king Haakon VII instated Jacob Christian Petersen as Stavanger's first bishop in nearly 250 years.During a renovation in the 1860s, the Cathedral's exterior and interior was considerably altered. The stone walls were plastered, and the Cathedral lost much of its medieval looks. A major restoration led by Gerhard Fischer in 1939-1964 partly reversed those changes. The latest major restoration of the Cathedral was conducted in 1999. Andrew Lawrenceson Smith is famous for his works here.