konrad ii

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Speyer Cathedral, Rhineland-Palatinate, is the largest preserved romanesque church. It is 134 m long, the nave is 33 m high, the towers 71.5 m tall.

Emperor Konrad II. ordered to begin constructing the church in 1025. It was not finished until 1106, the year Konrad IV., the grandson of the founder, died. Since then, the church experienced several disasters, but was rebuilt each time.

In 1450, there was a fire that destroyed the interior and the roof. The church was rebuilt within three years.

After French troops set Speyer on fire in 1689, the western part of the nave collapsed. The remaining eastern part was closed with a wall and continued to be used.

In 1755, the towers of the western transept were in a ruinous condition and had to be demolished. Between 1772 and 1778, the missing part of the nave was finally replaced, the western transept got a baroque façade.

Napoleon bonaparte attempted to tear down the church entirely, but the town of Speyer refused to carry the cost, so the church remained untouched in the end.

Between 1854 and 1858, the baroque western transept was replaced witn a neo-romanesque, which was loosely based on old pictures showing the original.

In the late 1950s, the romanesque pediments that had been removed in the 18th century, were reconstructed. The last extensive renovation was carried out between 1996 and 2015.

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‘’Heavenly Bodies’’  is a book by  Dr. Paul Koudounaris  with photographs of  literally ‘’Decorated Martyrs’’   

 #1) St. Pancratius (Wil, Switzlerand) “He wear armor because he was an Early Christian soldier who was martyred. The current suit of armor was made by a silversmith in Augsburg, Germany, in the 18th century. The skeleton was vandalized in the 20th century its skull was stolen, but later returned and placed back in its helmet.”

#2) St. Luciana (Heiligkreuztal, Germany)  “One of four full skeletons once owned by the nuns at the convent in Heiligkreuztal. She is no longer displayed in the church, but is kept in a small museum on the property.”

#3) St. Valentinus (Waldsassen, Germany) “One of ten full articulated, jeweled skeletons in the town’s church, which is the largest intact collection in existence.”

#4)St. Munditia (Munich, Germany) “Thought to be the patron saint of spinsters, she was boarded up because she was seen as too grotesque for modern tastes.”

#5) St. Deodatus (Rheinau, Swizterland) “One of two seated skeletons which arrived late in the 17th century in the town’s monastic church. He shows a rare style of facial decorations, with a wax mask molded over the upper half of the skull, and a cloth wrap over the lower half, with a cut away to reveal the teeth.”

#6)  Konrad II (Mondsee, Austria)  “He is the only one in this group that was not believed to be an Early Christian martyr. A medieval abbot of the town’s monastery, he was so famed that when the fad for decorating skeletons became popularized, his bones were exhumed and decorated in the same style in order to give him prominence.”

#7)  St. Konstantious (Rorschach, Switzerland)   “One of the finest decorated skeletons in Switzerland, he has been present in the church since the 17th century, but is now hidden behind a painted cover.”

#8) Head relic of St. Deodatus (Roggenburg, Germany)  “In some cases, not enough of the original skeleton was found to enable the decorators to articulate the entire body. That was apparently the case here, and a wax face and mesh veil were fashioned over the skull.”

#9) St. Leontius (Muri, Switzerland)  “One of the most famous of the jeweled skeletons, he was a popular healing saint, and his relic was said to even have the power to raise dead children.”