St. Mary's Church, the parish church in which Luther often preached, was built in the 13th century, but has been much altered since Luther's time. The reformers Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen preached there and the building also saw the first celebration of the mass in German rather than Latin and the first ever distribution of the bread and wine to the congregation - it is thus considered the mother church of the Protestant Reformation.
The first mention of the church dates to 1187. Originally a wooden church, in 1280 the present chancel and the chancel's south aisle were built. Between 1412 and 1439 the nave was replaced by the present three-aisle structure and the two towers built, originally crowned by stone pyramids. In 1522, in the wake of the iconoclasm begun by Andreas Bodenstein, almost the whole interior decoration was demolished and removed, leaving the still-surviving High Medieval Judensau on the exterior of the south wall. On his return to Wittenberg from the Wartburg, Luther preached his famous invocavit sermons in the Stadtkirche. In 1547, during the Schmalkaldic War, the towers' stone pyramids were removed to make platforms for cannon. Despite the war, an altarpiece by Lucas Cranach the Elder was unveiled in the church. In 1556 the platforms were replaced by the surviving octagonal caps, a clock and a clock-keeper's dwelling. This was followed by an extension of the east end and the overlying 'Ordinandenstube'. In 1811 the interior of the church was redesigned to a Neo-Gothic scheme by Carlo Ignazio Pozzi. The church was fully restored in 1928 and 1980-1983.
Since 1996 it has been a World Heritage Site together with other Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg.
St. Mary's Church contains a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, representing the Last Supper (with the faces of Luther and other reformers), Baptism and Confession, also a font by Hermann Vischer the Elder (1457). In addition, there are numerous historic paintings in the church.References:
The Jelling stones are massive carved runestones from the 10th century, found at the town of Jelling in Denmark. The older of the two Jelling stones was raised by King Gorm the Old in memory of his wife Thyra. The larger of the two stones was raised by King Gorm's son, Harald Bluetooth in memory of his parents, celebrating his conquest of Denmark and Norway, and his conversion of the Danes to Christianity. The runic inscriptions on these stones are considered the most well known in Denmark.
The Jelling stones stand in the churchyard of Jelling church between two large mounds. The stones represent the transitional period between the indigenous Norse paganism and the process of Christianization in Denmark; the larger stone is often cited as Denmark's baptismal certificate (dåbsattest), containing a depiction of Christ. They are strongly identified with the creation of Denmark as a nation state and both stones feature one of the earliest records of the name 'Danmark'.
After having been exposed to all kinds of weather for a thousand years cracks are beginning to show. On the 15th of November 2008 experts from UNESCO examined the stones to determine their condition. Experts requested that the stones be moved to an indoor exhibition hall, or in some other way protected in situ, to prevent further damage from the weather.
Heritage Agency of Denmark decided to keep the stones in their current location and selected a protective casing design from 157 projects submitted through a competition. The winner of the competition was Nobel Architects. The glass casing creates a climate system that keeps the stones at a fixed temperature and humidity and protects them from weathering. The design features rectangular glass casings strengthened by two solid bronze sides mounted on a supporting steel skeleton. The glass is coated with an anti-reflective material that gives the exhibit a greenish hue. Additionally, the bronze patina gives off a rusty, greenish colour, highlighting the runestones' gray and reddish tones and emphasising their monumental character and significance.