Käppele is the commonly used name for the church Wallfahrtskirche Mariä Heimsuchung in Würzburg. It was built following plans by Balthasar Neumann in the mid-18th century in Rococo style. It serves as a pilgrimage church and until 2014 was attended to by members of the Capuchins.
The name Käppele is derived from the German word Kapelle (chapel). Originally, a local fisher erected a pietà in what was then a vineyard in 1640. About ten years later, four miracle cures were reported in connection with the statue. Around 1650, a first chapel was built around the pietà. Together with some other reported phenomena, the cures began to attract pilgrims to the site, especially around pentecost. In 1690 and 1713, the original chapel was increased in size. Balthasar Neumann, architect of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Würzburg Residence, then drew up plans for a new church which incorporated the older chapel as the Alte Gnadenkapelle. The foundation stone was laid on 5 April 1748. Construction took until 1750 but the interior furnishings were not finished until 1821. The new chapel was officially inaugurated only on 21 September 1824, due to earlier disruptions caused by securalization of 1803. However, the capuchins already began holding services in 1754.
A way of the cross with 14 stations of the cross marked by small chapels leads up to the Käppele. These were based on an idea by Neumann, but completed only in 1799. The live-sized statue groups (77 figures) were created by Simon and Peter Wagner.
The church's double-towered front and the roof with its cupolas and roof lanterns give it an unusual appearance that distinguishes it from the other churches of Würzburg. The interior features ceiling frescos by Matthäus Günther from 1752 and 1781 and stucco work by Johann Michael Feuchtmayer the Elder. The side altars date to 1768. The neoclassical high altar was made in 1799.
The organ dates to 1752, made by Christian Köhler from Frankfurt. Votive offerings in the Mirakelgang reflect local devoutness and tastes of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Apart from being a tourist attraction, the Käppele remains a popular pilgrimage site, especially at pentecost.References:
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.
The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.
The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.