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The Dominican Church in Regensburg

Regensburg is home to the two largest mendicant churches in southern Germany. The Dominican Church of St. Blaise here lies to the extreme west of the medieval town and to the east is the Franciscan Minorite Church. The Dominican order was founded in the early 13th century and quickly spread across Europe. When the Regensburg monastery was founded in 1229, it was already the 5th monastery on German soil. The Dominicans traditionally devoted themselves within the pastoral care of the population. The focus was on confession and preaching and the conversion of heretics and heretics. This required a thorough training in theology and philosophy, so the Dominicans attracted inquisitive scholars of all disciplines.

The Dominican Church in Regensburg was mostly completed in 1300. With a length of 78 meters it was the second largest church in the city after the cathedral. As a mendicant order, the Dominicans were also subject to the rules of poverty in their church building. That’s why this church is hardly ornamental at all. And you won’t find a large church tower either: as is usual with mendicant churches, there is only a modest roof turret. There are exactly two sculptures on the exterior. In a niche above the portal is Saint Blaise, the church patron. In general, the Dominicans dedicate their churches to Our Lady. That this church is named after a saint is probably due to the fact that originally there was a chapel of St. Blaise, which was given to the Dominicans by the bishop when they arrived in the city. The second sculpture is at the top of the north-east pillar: on the west side of the pillar you can see a monkey sitting, on the east side a jumping dog. The west-facing monkey symbolizes the devil.

The most important Dominican monk who worked in Regensburg was Albertus Magnus, who was considered a polymath of the 13th century. He had studied philosophy, medicine and law, dealt with Jewish, Arabic and Greek scripts and was well versed in the natural sciences of his time. In the middle of the 13th century, he lived for three years as a lector here in the Dominican monastery and gave theological lectures. The lecture hall where Albertus Magnus taught still exists today. Even more important was his work in the years 1260 to 1262, because at that time Albertus Magnus was bishop of Regensburg. Contrary to the wishes of his order, he accepted the episcopacy on the express orders of the pope, because the diocese of Regensburg was in serious difficulties due to the financial mismanagement of its predecessor. Albertus Magnus managed to put things back in order in just two years. Then he looked for and found a capable successor for his office, namely Leo Tundorfer, during whose tenure the construction of the Gothic cathedral began. Albertus Magnus was canonized in 1931 and is one of the diocese patrons of Regensburg.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dominican Church served as a so-called simultaneous church for several decades: this means that both Catholic and Protestant services were celebrated in it. After the citizens had converted to the Protestant faith in 1542, a church was of course needed. The Neupfarrkirche was too small to accommodate all Protestants. The city council therefore decided that the Dominican church should serve as a church for both denominations in the future. So it was that the Catholics celebrated mass in the choir of the church and the Protestants in the nave. Only a wooden rood screen separated the two. However, this had little to do with today’s ecumenical services: the services often took place at the same time and people tried to outdo each other in terms of volume and prevent the “others” from celebrating the service undisturbed.

This state of affairs was not satisfactory for either religious community. Finally, the city council gave the Dominicans the opportunity to buy their church free for 6000 guilders and so in 1630 the church became the sole property of the monastery again. Incidentally, the construction of the Protestant Trinity Church opposite was paid for with the 6,000 guilders.

The Dominican Church in Regensburg now serves as the assembly church of the Marian Congregation for Men.

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