St. Laurence Parish Church


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The St. Laurentius Church cannot be overlooked with its towering spire - visible landmark of Erwitte. It was once called the "most distinguished church of the Duchy of Westphalia".

Pfarrkirche St. Laurentius Erwitte

Pfarrkirche St. Laurentius Erwitte

Pfarrkirche St. Laurentius Erwitte


St. Laurence Parish Church

Kirchplatz 12

59597 Erwitte

Telefon: +49 2943 2322



The patron saint of the church was a deacon in Rome and suffered martyrdom on August 10 around 258 under Emperor Valerian, as the most famous Roman martyr.
The legend tells: As archdeacon of Rome, Laurentius, representing the Pope, was responsible for the administration of local church property and its use for social purposes. After the Roman Emperor Valerian had Pope Sixtus beheaded, Laurentius was ordered to hand over all church property within three days. Thereupon Laurentius distributed the property to the members of the church, gathered all the poor and sick and presented them to the emperor as the true wealth of the church. The latter had Laurentius tortured several times because of this and then torturously executed by grilling on an iron grate.
According to tradition, his last words to the emperor were, "You poor man, to me this fire is a coolness, but to you it brings eternal torment." The cult of Laurentius in Germany spread after the victory of Emperor Otto I against the Hungarians in the Battle of the Lechfeld near Augsburg on August 10, 955, Laurentius Day.

The oldest part of the Romanesque church, the fortified tower, is more than 800 years old. The most valuable piece of the Erwitte parish church is a so-called cross of grace, from about the year 1200. Remarkable are the art-historically valuable tympana (decorative surfaces in the arched field) above two of the three church portals. In addition, the rare and widely known in art historical circles "Jacob's Ladder", which is unique in Germany.

Jacob's ladder or ladder to heaven is an ascent and descent between earth and heaven, which Jacob, according to the biblical narrative, sees. On it he sees angels ascending and descending, but at the top the Lord himself, who presents himself to him as the God of Abraham and Isaac and renews the promise of land and descendants.
On the two corner columns of the eastern crossing pillars, angels standing on a ladder can be seen as shallow reliefs. At the corners of the cube-shaped bases of the columns are small figures which, according to Prof. Tümmler, represent the kings David, Solomon and Ezechias as well as the Queen of Sheba. On the capital of the northern column one sees the praying empress Helena and her assistant Cyriakus. The capital of the south column shows two angels. The three pictorial zones of the columns come together to form a remarkable overall picture. From the kings of the Old Testament pointing to the future and the forerunner of the Empress Helena, the columns and the angels, as mediators between man and God, symbolically establish a connection to Christ, who after the death on the cross and the resurrection - the sculptures of the capitals suggest it - appears as the Triumphator.

In November 1971, the church was hit by a severe fire disaster, in which the baroque tower dome with all the bells and the church roof fell victim to the flames. When the church was rebuilt, the steeple was erected in its current visible Romanesque design. Drivers on the B 1 or the nearby highway will notice a stylistic similarity between the church tower and the cathedral buildings in Paderborn and Soest. The only bell that survived the fire found its place after restoration next to the church on the redesigned church square.

Main opening times:

Sunday opened
Monday opened
Tuesday opened
Wednesday opened
Thursday opened
Friday opened
Saturday opened


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