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The Church of St. Martin

The Church of St. Martin

The origins of the parish of St. Martin date back to the era of the Franks. It was the centre for pastoral care in a large parish. In an official document dated 12th December 1303, the archbishop of Trier, Dieter von Nassau, set up a “Kollegiatstift” (community of secular clerics) for a provost, a dean, and five canons in the predecessor Romanesque church of what is today the Church of St. Martin. The Schönburg aristocracy had patronage rights for the diocese (Stift) of St. Martin. This meant they had the right to propose suitable clergymen when any vacancies for canons arose. As a result, the Schönburgs strongly influenced the diocese and the church. Before long, the Romanesque Church of St. Martin was too small for the newly founded diocese, because the priests needed a larger choir area for their hourly prayers.

Construction work on the Church of St. Martin as we know it today began around 1350. Architecturally, the Church of our Lady served as a role model. Although the basic concept was the same, however, the tower of the Church of St. Martin was designed very differently. As the church was located high above the town in a location which was important for the defence of the town, the church tower was fortified accordingly. It is the most convincing example of ecclesiastical gothic fortification architecture in the Rhineland region.

Building work on the church dragged on slowly, because the economic basis in the diocese was negatively affected by the up and coming monetary economy. The northern side aisle was not completed until 1500. For financial reasons, the southern side aisle was never built.

As with all other dioceses in the Rhineland area, the diocese of St. Martin was dissolved by Napoleon in 1802.

In the Church of St. Martin, the 16th century wall paintings and a high gothic Madonna from the middle of the 15th century are worthy of particular notice. Restoration work on the choir vault between 1962 and 1968 brought original gothic paintwork back to light.