Gemeinde Rödelsee



Piety Columns in Franconia

The tradition of placing piety columns, or wayside shrines, near roads and paths dates back to the Middle Ages. Stones were put up for legal reasons or to commemorate events. Piety columns, “Marterli” in the local dialect, flourished in Franconia in the subsequent centuries:

Around 1600, Würzburg’s Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn used them to show the power of the catholic Counter-Reformation. Erecting a piety column was seen as a commitment to the “right” faith. Lots of columns dating from this time of religious conflict still exist in Franconia.

Especially in the 18th century, the baroque era, Catholics put up countless columns to visibly express their deeply-felt piety in public. Franconia became a splendid piety column landscape.

In the early 19th century, romantic artists included picturesque piety columns in their landscape paintings, making them iconic of Franconia. Since then, these columns have been carefully preserved and restored, where necessary, as integral parts of the Franconian landscape.


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