St Mary’s Protestant Church (002QR21)
St Mary’s Protestant Church
The oldest part of St Mary’s Town Church is the present-day chancel, which was built in around 1281. Construction work on the nave began in 1412. The towers’ octagonal caps seen today were built in 1556–58 after the Gothic stone pyramids on them had been removed during the Schmalkaldic War so that cannons could be positioned on the platforms. Additional rebuilding work took place in 1569–71. In the 19th century and the 1920s, the church’s furnishings were partly replaced. St Mary’s Town Church was last refurbished between 2010 and 2016.
From 1512, St Mary’s was the main place where Martin Luther preached, and the first Protestant service was celebrated there at Christmas 1521. In 1525, Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora were married in the church by Johannes Bugenhagen, the town’s first Protestant pastor. The first Protestant priests were ordained there and mass was celebrated in German there for the first time. As a result, St Mary’s came to be known as the ‘mother church’ of the Reformation.
The church’s famous Reformation altar was built in 1547 by Lucas Cranach the Elder. It presents the Reformation’s main messages, showing the sermon, Holy Communion, baptism, confession, and Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection at the centre of the Christian church.
Today, the vibrant Town Church is the main place of worship of the Protestant community in Wittenberg.