Vierzehnheiligen Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Bad Staffelstein, Nemčija

Website of the Sanctuary

+49 957 195 080

Winter: 07.30 – 17.00 and Summer: 06.30 – 20.00

The History of Pilgrimage to the Vierzehnheiligen Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

On September 24th Hermann Leicht, a young shepherd, driving his sheep home, saw a crying child in a field belonging to the nearby Cistercian monastery. When he tried to pick it up it disappeared abruptly. A short time later the child reappeared in the same spot. Two candles were burning next to it.

Nearly one year later, on June 28th, 1446, this child appeared again. It bore a red cross on its chest. It was surrounded by 14 smaller children – Vierzehnheiligen. The child said to the shepherd: “We are the 14 helpers and wish to have a chapel where we can rest graciously. If you will be our servant, we will be yours!”

Fourteen Holy Helpers Vierzehnheiligen

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Soon the shepherd and a woman who passed by chance saw two burning candles descending from heaven to this spot. 18 days later a woman who was hopelessly ill was healed by the intercession of the 14 helpers. For this the abbey gave in and erected a chapel for the pilgrimage starting immediately. In 1448 the altar was already consecrated. See Top 15 Catholic shrines around the world.

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The pilgrimage blossomed out quickly, promoted by indulgences. Every year crowds of pilgrims came from Thuringia, Saxony, from all parts of Franconia, Bavaria etc. At Vierzehnheiligen even high dignities went for a prayer to this holy spot: electors, Emperor Friedrich III and Ferdinand I, also Albrecht Duerer and his wife.

During the Peasants Revolt (1525) and during the 30-years-War the buildings burnt down. But again and again larger buildings were erected. The Holy Spot was protected by churches looking rather like castles. See other Catholic shrines in Germany.

Who are the Vierzehnheiligen – the Fourteen Holy Helpers?

In the middle of the main rotunda above the place of visions the altar of grace of a singular beauty is to be seen showing the Fourteen holy helpers. The elegant style is in the taste of rococo.

The idea of an altar standing in the centre of a church was an invention of Küchel. The plans are supposed to back to Johann Michael Feichtmayr in charge of the stucco. Since 1804 the tiny models of 30 cm hight are in the parish – church of Strullendorf near Nuernberg.

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Vierzehnheiligen – the Fourteen Holy Helpers:

  • St. Achatius
  • St. Ägidius
  • St. Barbara
    St. Blasius
  • St. Christophorus
  • St. Cyriakus
  • St. Dionys
  • St. Erasmus
  • St. Eustachius
  • St. Georg
  • St. Katharina
  • St. Margareta
  • St. Pantaleon
  • St.Vitus

The History of the Vierzehnheiligen Basilica – The Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

During the 18th century Stephan Moesinger, a young and dynamic abbot and a learned man, wanted a new church to be built at Vierzehnheiligen. The old church, because of the increase of pilgrimage, had become too small.

It also would have needed badly some repairs. At first the abbot was dreaming to have a large new church for his convent Langheim. For this he ordered Balthasar Neumann to trace a plan (1742).

That is why the means for a new church for pilgrimage at Vierzehnheiligen had to be cut down. In winter 1738/39 the abbot called Heinrich Krohne a protestant master builder from Weimar who was his favourite. He planned a central building with galleries which looked rather like a protestant church for the court of Weimar than a Catholic church for pilgrims.

This plan was rejected by the Prince-Bishop Karl Friedrich von Schoenborn of Bamberg. Reviewers feared high costs to follow because of the wooden vault.

Vierzehnheiligen Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

Now it was the turn of Michael Kuechel, the Prince Bishop´s master builder. In 1742 he proposed to the abbot a new central construction which looked very beautiful. It was larger than the previous one. The Altar of Grace he put into the centre of the church. The abbot rejected this plan because of the high costs of the cupola made of stone.

Balthasar Neumann was called, possibly by the abbot. His plan showed a similar but simpler church as for Langheim convent (a basilica of three naves with columns) and front with two steeples. What made this plan special: the place of Vision was centred in the cruciform interior. Galleries were added on a second plan.

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The Prince Bishop agreed. But the abbot wanted to save some money. He feared the high costs for expensive works of plane and an expensive groundwork for the foundation. That is why he wanted the church to be moved 10 meters higher on the mountain. So he called back Krohne, his private master builder.

Vierzehnheiligen Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

Krohne guessed that he might have a new chance for his previous plans. Wilfully he changed Neumann’s plan. He tried to build a protestant church where the sermon is the centre of the service. On St. George’s Day (April 23 rd, 1743) Abbot Stephan Moesinger layed the foundation-stone of the church.

The walls grew quickly under the direction of Thomas Nissler a skilful master mason who lived at Staffelstein. (There were three hemispherical niches on the plan.) The walls were made of the yellow sandstone broken where the church was built. In December 1743 Neumann and Kuechel came to check the building site. The truth was found out. Neumann and the Prince Bishop were shocked.

The abbot promised to change the plan according to the demands of a Catholic church and dismissed Krohne. Meanwhile the most honourable old General Maximilian Welsch (Mainz) proposed a very special plan to the abbot.

This church would have had enormous dimensions and for that was rejected. Meanwhile Neumann took up his work again. He tried to find a new solution including the plan of Krohne whose walls could not be removed.

The place of the Vision which would have been somewhere in the nave had to be centred again. Neumann could not change the exterior of the building.

He could only change the church inside. On both sides of the Vision place he put up four columns in that way that they formed an oval. So the galleries connected with them equally could be added: a brilliant idea! Two smaller oval basements were added in the East and in the West. Neumann supervised the building until he died in 1753.

Giuseppe Appiani, court painter at Mainz, came to paint the frescos and the altar-pieces. The stucco work was done under the direction of Johann Michael Feichtmayr and Johann Georg Uebelher (Wessobrunn) in the new style of rococo (decoration of the church, altars, the pulpit and the Altar of Grace).

The almost best sculpture of the church shows St. Wendelin, the patron of shepherds standing on the right side of the side-altar located on the left side in the background.

On September 16th, 1772, after 29 years of construction, the magnificent church in baroque and rococo style was consecrated by the Prince Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim in the presence of Malachias Limmer, abbot of Langheim.

At the same time the priorat of the Cistercians next to the church and a building for servants were constructed by Kuechel. These buildings were erected of the same yellow sandstone. The former priorat is the actual monastery of the Franciscans.

Who is living in the Convent?

Often visitors of the Vierzehnheiligen Basilica – the Fourteen Holy Helpers have asked us: “Who is living behind these magnificent walls?” In 1836 King Ludwig I of Bavaria assigned the Bavarian Franciscans to resume the supervision of the pilgrims, which until the secularization of 1803 had been in the hands of the Cistercians.

Since then, many Fathers and Brothers have come to take care of the pilgrims: They have been doing so in confessions, dialogues and divine services, as well as through their various functions as guides, organists, sacristans, cooks, gardeners etc.

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Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Who are the Fourteen Holy Helpers?

In the middle of the main rotunda above the place of visions the altar of grace of a singular beauty is to be seen showing the Fourteen holy helpers. The elegant style is in the taste of rococo. The idea of an altar standing in the centre of a church was an invention of Küchel. The plans are supposed to back to Johann Michael Feichtmayr in charge of the stucco. Since 1804 the tiny models of 30 cm hight are in the parish – church of Strullendorf near Nuernberg.

The altar is surrounded by a grating in the form of a heart where communicants receive Holy Communion. It is carved of wood skilfully. Fourteen holy helpers are standing on it. On the side of the high altar the visitor can catch a sight of the place of vision: It is a little chamber with four pictures showing the visions painted on canvas. The place of vision itself is empty. The part below consists of large curled volutes, rocailles and bows made of colourful stucco marble. It carries a canopy which sets free the sight to the high altar. From there you can see Banz Convent if the main door of the basilica is open. It reminds of a magnificent carriage carrying the Fourteen holy helpers. 12 – Four each are placed on three storeys; St. Catharine and St. Barbara are located on the lateral altars.

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Fourteen Holy Helpers:

  • St. Achatius
  • St. Ägidius
  • St. Barbara
    St. Blasius
  • St. Christophorus
  • St. Cyriakus
  • St. Dionys
  • St. Erasmus
  • St. Eustachius
  • St. Georg
  • St. Katharina
  • St. Margareta
  • St. Pantaleon
  • St.Vitus

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Bad Stafflstein is cca 30 min far from Bamberg. Bamberg is located in northern Bavaria, about  2 ½ hours from Munich or Frankfurt. Because of its central location it can be reached quickly, easily and comfortably by plane, train and or car.

By Plane: Most popular is to arrive at Frankfurt airport and then take the trainexternal link – help for German language course to Bamberg (train ride approx. 2 ½ hours).

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By train: Direct railway connections to Bamberg are available from Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Munich and Berlin. You can find connections and timetables online at www.bahn.deexternal

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Sunday:

  • 07.30
  • 09.00
  • 10.30 

Working days:

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every day 09.00, on mondays 08.00 hour

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

The History of the Vierzehnheiligen Basilica – The Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

During the 18th century Stephan Moesinger, a young and dynamic abbot and a learned man, wanted a new church to be built at Vierzehnheiligen. The old church, because of the increase of pilgrimage, had become too small. It also would have needed badly some repairs. At first the abbot was dreaming to have a large new church for his convent Langheim. For this he ordered Balthasar Neumann to trace a plan (1742). That is why the means for a new church for pilgrimage at Vierzehnheiligen had to be cut down. In winter 1738/39 the abbot called Heinrich Krohne a protestant master builder from Weimar who was his favourite. He planned a central building with galleries which looked rather like a protestant church for the court of Weimar than a Catholic church for pilgrims. This plan was rejected by the Prince-Bishop Karl Friedrich von Schoenborn of Bamberg. Reviewers feared high costs to follow because of the wooden vault.

Now it was the turn of Michael Kuechel, the Prince Bishop´s master builder. In 1742 he proposed to the abbot a new central construction which looked very beautiful. It was larger than the previous one. The Altar of Grace he put into the centre of the church. The abbot rejected this plan because of the high costs of the cupola made of stone. Balthasar Neumann was called, possibly by the abbot. His plan showed a similar but simpler church as for Langheim convent (a basilica of three naves with columns) and front with two steeples. What made this plan special: the place of Vision was centred in the cruciform interior. Galleries were added on a second plan. The Prince Bishop agreed. But the abbot wanted to save some money. He feared the high costs for expensive works of plane and an expensive groundwork for the foundation. That is why he wanted the church to be moved 10 meters higher on the mountain. So he called back Krohne, his private master builder. Krohne guessed that he might have a new chance for his previous plans. Wilfully he changed Neumann’s plan. He tried to build a protestant church where the sermon is the centre of the service. On St. George’s Day (April 23 rd, 1743) Abbot Stephan Moesinger layed the foundation-stone of the church. The walls grew quickly under the direction of Thomas Nissler a skilful master mason who lived at Staffelstein. (There were three hemispherical niches on the plan.) The walls were made of the yellow sandstone broken where the church was built. In December 1743 Neumann and Kuechel came to check the building site. The truth was found out. Neumann and the Prince Bishop were shocked.

You might also like our T-shirts:

The abbot promised to change the plan according to the demands of a Catholic church and dismissed Krohne. Meanwhile the most honourable old General Maximilian Welsch (Mainz) proposed a very special plan to the abbot. This church would have had enormous dimensions and for that was rejected. Meanwhile Neumann took up his work again. He tried to find a new solution including the plan of Krohne whose walls could not be removed. The place of the Vision which would have been somewhere in the nave had to be centred again. Neumann could not change the exterior of the building. He could only change the church inside. On both sides of the Vision place he put up four columns in that way that they formed an oval. So the galleries connected with them equally could be added: a brilliant idea! Two smaller oval basements were added in the East and in the West. Neumann supervised the building until he died in 1753.

Giuseppe Appiani, court painter at Mainz, came to paint the frescos and the altar-pieces. The stucco work was done under the direction of Johann Michael Feichtmayr and Johann Georg Uebelher (Wessobrunn) in the new style of rococo (decoration of the church, altars, the pulpit and the Altar of Grace). The almost best sculpture of the church shows St. Wendelin, the patron of shepherds standing on the right side of the side-altar located on the left side in the background.

On September 16th, 1772, after 29 years of construction, the magnificent church in baroque and rococo style was consecrated by the Prince Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim in the presence of Malachias Limmer, abbot of Langheim. At the same time the priorat of the Cistercians next to the church and a building for servants were constructed by Kuechel. These buildings were erected of the same yellow sandstone. The former priorat is the actual monastery of the Franciscans.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

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