This week's church of the week on the Desperate Pastor blog is the Church of the Holy Spirit (aka Holy Ghost Church) in Heidelberg, Germany.
The lovely Robin and I saw this church on our recent tour of Heidelberg, hosted by new and dear friends. It's a massive, impressive church with an intriguing history.
The first known historical mention of this church was in the year 1239. In 1398, Prince Elector Ruprecht III (King Ruprecht I of Germany) laid the cornerstone of the present-day church. The chancel was finished in 1410. The nave was completed in 1441 and the tower after 1508. In the early eighteenth century the tower roof was redone in the Baroque style. The chancel was once used as a final resting place for Prince Electors. However, their tombs – with the exception of Ruprecht III’s – were all destroyed in 1693.
Until 1623 the church’s galleries contained Europe’s largest collection of handwritten books and documents, the “Bibliotheca Palatina.” After Heidelberg was conquered by Tilly, it first passed as war booty into the hands of Maximilian of Bavaria, who gave it to the Pope in Rome as a gift. From 1705 to 1936 the Holy Ghost Church was divided into two parts by a wall through the middle. Protestant (Lutheran) services were held in the nave, and Catholic – and later Old Catholic – masses took place in the chancel. Since 1936, the church has been exclusively Protestant.
According to our hosts, Phillip Melanchthon, the reformer and contemporary of Martin Luther who was admitted into Heidelberg University at age 12, preached here...as did (I think) Luther.
While we didn't have time to enter the church (I borrowed the photo of the interior), we admired it from all sides and vantage points during our tour of Heidelberg.