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A brief History of St. Mary’s Church of Rostock
around 1220, evident in 1232:
First church building on present site
Building of an early-gothic hall church with three naves
Beginning of modification into a three-nave gothic basilica with ambulatory chapels
Building of transept started
Completion of the church in its present form
The Hanseatic City of Rostock emerged from three earlier independent settlements, each with its
own church, starting with St. Peter’s (Petrikirche) at the end of the 12th century. St. Mary’s church was first noted in 1232, and another settlement was developed around St. Jacob’s church
(Jakobikirche, lost in WW II).
When three cities completed their union in 1265, St. Mary’s was selected as the main church.
Immediatly after that, the church was redesigned as a three-nave hall church (following models from Westfalia). Building was completed in 1279, and today’s tower basement and the western halls are
the remains of it.
Starting in 1290, the church was being enlarged and modernized. A new quire was built at the East
end, which is the front section of today’s church. A surrounding ambulatory with chapels was added.
Like in other places of the Baltic region, this design was inspired by the “mother church of all
brickstone gothic churches”, St. Mary’s of Lübeck. The vaulting of the central nave was heightened up to 31,5 meters. The side naves have a height of 15 meters.
From around 1290, a 4-ton bell (“Bürgerglocke”), and the precious bronze font are preserved.
Around 1398, the building of the transept was started. From outside, this section can be noticed by the alternating layers of green/brown glazed and red unglazed brickstones.
In 1419, Rostock University, the first in Northern Europe, was founded. A document dating from 1420 notices altars in the side naves, which means that they must have been completed at the time.
The rebuild of the tower front was started as a double-tower layout, but the building ground was to weak for it, so the present solution with a “hood” was made instead. In 1454, the new vaults were
In 1531, Rostock turned to protestantism following, lead by St. Peter’s pastor Joachim Slüter. Many
works of art, e. g. side altars, were dismantled or put out of use during the process. The side chapels, which have been the chapels of several trade and craftsmen unions, were converted to grave
chapels during the following decades.
From the baroque era, the interior painting (restored) was retained. At certain spots, mediaeval
paining is visible. Between 1721 and 1770, some important works of art where added with the high altar and the decoration of the Western wall with the archduke’s chair and the organ. In 1796, the
tower’s tent roof and the spire above the crossing did receive their present form.
During the 19th century, the church was renovated. In 1899, it passed its function as university
church to the Abbey of the Holy Cross (today part of the Municipal Museum of Arts and History). From its beginning until 1945, St. Mary’s was the church of the City Council, too.
World War II has brought severe damage to the city by several anglo-american air raids from 1942 to 1945. Thanks to the Friedrich Bombowski, churchwarden in those days, and his daughter and some
more helpers, the church was preserved from burning down, and today it is the only one of the larger Rostock churches, which was not destroyed by fire. (St. Peter’s and St. Nicholas’ lost their vaults and
the complete interior, St. Jacob’s was lost as a whole).
During the autumn of 1989, thousands of citizens gathered within the peace prayers an Thursdays, to
pray for the renewal of the society, and to express “forbidden” thoughts and points of view within a safe space. Many of those prayers have been led by Joachim Gauck, then pastor of the parish of
Rostock-Evershagen, today the president of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In the decades of the German Democratic Republic, repairs and maintenance of the church had to be
reduced to a minimum, due to the socialist government and the lack of materials.
After the German reunion in 1992, a major restoration process was started. The Association of
Supporters of Rostock St. Mary’s Church has conducted many efforts to prevent the church from further detereoration. The programme is scheduled until 2018 and it is funded by the Federal Republic
of Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, the Hanseatic City of Rostock, “Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz” (German Heritage Foundation), the Lutheran Diocese of Mecklenburg and many other
institutions, foundations and private donators.
Thanks from the parish to all the supporters!
Most of the ongoing work is just of preservative character, a thorough restoration of the works of art
is still beeing awaited. More detailed information on the interior can be found on the Gallery Page>>.
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Monday - Saturday (from May to Mid October), 12 a.m.:
Noon Prayer with Organ Music
A brief visit to the organ is possible during noon prayer, meeting point is at 11.55 a.m.
Every Friday, 12 a.m.:
Prayer for Peace with Coventry Reconciliation Prayer
Calendar outdated? Sunday Services when?
Concerts and Church music
of the Lutheran Inner City Parish of Rostock, in German