Market Church in Halle, Germany, takes its name from its location, on Market Square at the heart of the city. More officially, however, it is known as Mary’s Church or the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirch, or Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen). This is one of the notable sights in Halle, a city which boasts a range of historic and cultural attractions, and only one of the mediaeval churches that can be found here. www.travelrows.com
Market Church on the map:
The History of Market Church
The church here was constructed largely due to the auspices of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, who was the Archbishop of Magdeburg and Elector of Mainz. He desired the church to be built and was the driving force behind its initial construction. He required a repository for his collection of precious holy treasures known as the ‘Hallesches Heilthum’.
However, the Protestant Reformation made the Cardinal, who made a habit of selling indulgences, a target for the reformations of Martin Luther. He sent a copy of his famous 95 Theses (in which he condemned the practice of selling indulgences) to the cardinal. Wishing to repress the growing influence of the Reformation, the cardinal ordered work on the Market Church to begin in 1529. The existing parish churches of St Gertrude and St Mary were largely demolished to make space for this larger and grander place of worship.
Ironically, this Market Church, which had been built to counter the Reformation, was the very place where, in 1541, Justus Jonas officially introduced the Reformation to Halle with his Good Friday address. Later, Martin Luther himself held three sermons at this church, before he died while preaching in his hometown of Eisleben in 1543. After his death, as his body was carried to Wittenberg, he reposed here for a night. His friend Lukas Furtenagel commissoned a death mask mold of his face and hands, and left the molds here in Halle when the procession continued on to Luther’s final resting place in Wittenberg.
Construction on the church was undertaken in two phases, from 1530-1539, and from 1542. It was finally completed in 1554.
Another of the Market Church’s claims to fame is that it was the location where, in 1685, the famous composer Handel was baptised. It is also associated with Johann Sebastian Bach, who was offered a post to pay the organ here in 1713 (though he turned the job down to stay in Weimar).But he did play here for the organ’s inauguration in 1716. His earliest extant Christmas cantata was premiered here around the same period. Between 1746 and 1764, his son worked as the church’s organist.
The church made its way through the centuries lately unscathed. Unfortunately, however, it was bombed and badly damaged during an air raid just before the end of the Second World War. The subsequent repair work, carried out between 1968 and 1983, as one of the biggest such restoration projects carried out during the East German period.
A visit to this church is a must for anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical history, or history in general, and can be a highlight of a visit to Halle (Saale).