Saint Thomas Church (Strasbourg)

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The church facade and tower

Saint Thomas Church in Strasbourg is a Protestant church today. It is very important for Strasbourg, from a cultural and historic perspective. Strasbourg Cathedral had to be given to the Catholics when the French occupied Strasbourg in 1681. Since then, this church is the main Protestant church in the region.

The veneration of St. Thomas at this particular spot was already present in the 6th century. A church and a school were built there in the 9th century. They burned down because lightning struck them in 1007 and again in 1144. A very large church built like a fortress to resist fires better was started in the year of 1196. Building works were interrupted several times, until they finished with building side-chapels in Gothic style. In 1524 the church became Lutheran. Today, it is in charge of several schools. There is also a seminary (A special school for priests) in the baroque building next to it.

There are 5 naves in the church. It is the oldest such church in southwest Germany, and the only "hall church" in Alsace. The church is also known for its organs. One of them was built by Johann Andreas Silbermann in 1741. The family Silbermann (father and sons) were the most important German organ-builders of the 18th century. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played on this organ several times during the three weeks he spent in Strasbourg in 1778 and wrote in a lettre to his father Leopold Mozart about it. The other organ (built for the choir) was designed by Albert Schweitzer and built in 1906.

There is a gothic fresco of Saint Michael in the church. This is the largest of its kind in France after that of St. Christopher in Wissembourg, which is ten meters high.

There are also many notable tombs and tombstones in the church, the oldest is a romanesque masterwork from the 11th century, and the largest a baroque monument to field-marchal Maurice of Saxony that fills up the entire rear wall of the choir. Maurice could not be buried in Paris because he was Protestant, and since he was German by birth, Strasbourg was a fitting place.

The Saint Thomas church also houses medieval stained glass in its windows, although Protestants destroyed parts of it in the early years of the Reformation.

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