Daily during the day for devotions and visits
Services: Sundays at 10:15 am
The Protestant Collegiate Church in the centre of picturesque Wertheim
The Protestant Collegiate Church of St. Mary’s
The three-aisled Protestant Collegiate Church of St. Mary’s dates back to the 14th century and was likely erected on the foundations of two earlier structures from the Romanesque period. Construction of the chancel started in 1388, and the parish church was elevated to the status of an abbey church in 1481. In 1448, the scholar Konrad Wellin donated around 63 books as a basic inventory to establish a library on the upper floor of the late-Gothic building. Today the collection comprises around 900 mediaeval manuscripts and early prints, including one of the three remaining ‘Wertheim Bibles’. The tombs of the Wertheim counts are found on the ground floor of the chancel. As the Reformation spread, the abbey was gradually transformed into a protestant church from 1522 onward.
Around a century later, the aristocratic dynasty split into a protestant and re-catholicised branch, and the abbey church was then used by both denominations. Catholic mass was held in the chancel, while protestant services took place in the nave. This simultaneous use of the church persisted until the Catholic Parish Church of St. Venantius was completed in 1842. A particular feature of the abbey church is its slightly asymmetrical layout, which firstly accommodated the original course of the road and secondly was due quite simply to planning errors.
Located adjacent to the entrance to the abbey church, a winding sandstone staircase leads to a small side room in the steeple, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. The Wertheim Madonna from the early 14th century hangs above the entrance to this chapel. It reveals how the portrayal of Mary changed during the Middle Ages from that of a majestic figure to a loving mother.