St. Peter’s Cathedral in Worms is the smallest of the three imperial cathedrals on the Rhine (Mainz, Speyer and Worms) and it is situated at the highest point of the town centre. It was here that the first settlements developed as early as the 3rd century BC, for up on the hill the people were safe from floods. Where the cathedral now stands is where the Romans built a Roman forum during their occupation, and the two precursors of the cathedral were situated here.
There are disputes about the exact beginning of the building of the cathedral and the sequence of the individual building phases. For many years it was assumed that work on the present cathedral began with the east chancel in 1130. However, according to most recent scientific findings, the nave and the sanctuary were built first. This construction is plain and angular, as was usual around 1100. The elegant forms of the rest of the building most probably originate from the middle of the 12th century. It is assumed that the building started at the beginning of the 12th century and stopped because of political disturbances. Work was continued in 1130 and completed in 1181.
Worms Cathedral is well-known as the scene of important events in history. For example, in the year 1048 the papal election of Leo IX took place, then there was the Worms Concordat in 1122 and the Imperial Diet of Worms in 1521, when Martin Luther had to justify himself because of his reformatory works. After the Imperial Diet, the imperial ban was placed upon him. After that, no-one was allowed to read his works or give him protection and anyone was allowed to kill him. On his return journey from Worms to Wittenberg, Luther was taken in protective detention by soldiers of the Saxon Elector Friedrich and taken to safety to the Wartburg. It was there that he translated the New Testament into German.
The cathedral also formed the backdrop for an episode in the famous Nibelungen legend. According to the legend, the two queens Brunhild and Kriemhild argued on the cathedral steps as to which of their husbands was of higher rank and which of the two queens was allowed to enter the cathedral first. Although there is no historical evidence for this dispute, the Worms Nibelungen Festival is performed on a stage in front of the cathedral in memory of this.
The cathedral came through the Thirty Years’ War almost without any damage. However, later the interior was destroyed by French troops and the cathedral was used as a stable and warehouse. It was then restored after 1886.
Length: 39 cm
Width: 17 cm
Height: 22 cm
Number of sheets: 6
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