Gemeinde Rödelsee



The Churches of Rödelsee

In 1190, Bishop Otto of Eichstätt dedicated the first church of Rödelsee to St. Bartholomew. This disciple of Jesus was a missionary in the Middle East and died there as a martyr: He was skinned alive.

That is why the saint has been depicted with a skinning knife since the 12th century. People using knives in their work have venerated him: tanners, butchers, tailors – and winegrowers.

As a result of the complicated political situation with four rulers, the people of Rödelsee had to change religious affiliations several times, until finally both Lutherans and Catholics lived in the village. Since 1651, these two congregations shared St. Bartholomew’s Church.

However, they did not get on well with each other. The most controversial issue was the maintenance costs of the church. In 1770, the dilapidated building was struck by lightning and collapsed. Who would rebuild it?

A compromise was reached: The congregation that first raised the necessary funds should be allowed to rebuild the new church on the ruins of the old one. The Lutherans were quick, collecting donations in half of Europe, and began reconstruction work; the Catholics built a new church just a few metres away a little later.

So two churches were built in similar styles at the same time: St. Bartholomew’s Lutheran Church was consecrated in 1780, St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church in 1783. Today, ecumenical unity is very important to Rödelsee, given its conflict-ridden religious history: Lutherans and Catholics perform practices like carolling, Good Friday rattling, parish fairs and grape harvest prayers together.

The ecumenical kindergarten is a model project. And even “ecumenical wine” has been made – from grapes harvested in the vineyards owned by the two congregations.


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