Why did Jesus leave the carpentry shop

Jesus left Michaelsberg a long time ago. The day after the Benedictine abbey was dissolved in June 2011, the altar cross was heaved into a truck and taken to the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne. Now 31 more figures of saints, which previously crowned the choir stalls in the abbey church, are ready to be transported to the depot, while employees of the Moch carpentry from Dreis-Brücken in the Eifel set the crowbar. The entire choir stalls, in which the abbot and his monks once gathered during church services, will be torn out of the choir room of St. Michael.

What will happen to it? “We're sacrificing that to Saint Martin,” jokes master carpenter Horst Moch, slightly sarcastically: The oak stalls end up on the stake. It is not useful, says Moch: "Just look at how many nails are in there!"

It was only by chance that the news of the gutting of the chancel reached the town below and caused outrage among the Association of Friends and Patrons of Michaelsberg. Michael Kasiske, spokesman for the diocese, explains why the archbishopric, which is investing 41 million euros in renovation and extension on the Michaelsberg for the new domicile of the Catholic Social Institute, is doing Tabula rasa in the former abbey church. The church is being redesigned for its new users, the Indian Carmelites and the KSI, and neither side will need the choir stalls. It is also so infected with mold that it cannot be reinstalled, claims the Archdiocese.

Future of the saints unclear

What happens to the figures of the saints is still open. A workshop will deal with the redesign of the church and then clarify whether there is perhaps room for the wooden sculptures somewhere. Former Abbot Placidus Mittler always referred to them as “donor figures”. Because they were financed by married couples, companies and associations from Siegburg and the region. However, the figures, which are to be stored in the KSI for the time being, by no means come from the founding days of the abbey, but were created by the Cologne sculptor Eduard Schmitz after the reconstruction of the monastery, which was destroyed in the Second World War. He worked on it until his death in 1965. According to the plans of the architect Paul Krücken, the surrounding choir stalls with two rows of seats were not built until after the Second World War and were just ready for the rededication of the church on September 8, 1953, reports city archivist Dr. Andrea Korte-Böger in the “Siegburger Blätter”.

The abbot's chair comes to the museum

Of course, the last six remaining Benedictines looked a bit lost in the stalls. And their successors, the Carmelites, never sat in it. It goes without saying that the abbot's chair has also remained orphaned since the dissolution of the Benedictine convent. The carpenters took up the throne on Tuesday. But unlike the rest of the stalls, they carefully dismantled the abbot chair into its individual parts. “He's supposed to go to the museum,” Moch revealed. But the stalls, which the connoisseurs of the abbey understand as “monastic contemporary witnesses”, have meanwhile been irretrievably lost. It has no significance in terms of art history, emphasizes Kasiske. For Siegburg, however, reply the fans of the Michaelsberg. Because St. Anno, the founder of the monastery, wished to be buried with his brothers. The choir stalls would at least have been able to remind of this in the future, so it says on the homepage of the friends' association.

But the Archdiocese of Cologne calms the mind a little. In the course of the redesign, the workshop, in which “interested Siegburgers are also involved”, should be considered how “a place for the worship of holy Anno” could be created on the Michaelsberg.