St. Stephan's Cathedral - Passau



    Pen and Ink Sketch with Watercolor - Erwin Weber - 1985


St. Stephan's Cathedral or "Domkirche St. Stephanus" is located in Passau, a city situated on the confluence of the rivers Inn, Ilz and Danube in southern Germany close to the Czech and Austrian borders. There are not too many cities in Germany that can look back to more than 2000 years of continued existence. Passau is one of them. It was founded as a Celtic city fortress named Bojodurum. Around the time of Christ, the Romans erected three castles overlooking the confluence of the three rivers. One of them was called Batavia, the Latin name for Passau. In 739, Boniface, an English missionary, who had founded several dioceses throughout Germany, established one in Passau. For 1000 years Passau was the seat of the largest German diocese. The entire region from Passau to Austria and Hungary belonged to the mother church in Passau. This included the Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna and the Stephan's Cathedral in Gran - Esztergom, Hungary.

In 999 AD, the bishops of Passau became rulers of the city and were made secular princes in 1217. The bishops taxed the merchants and collected toll from salt shipped along the Inn River mined near Salzburg.

A church for the bishop of Passau was built around 720 AD. It was enlarged to an early Gothic cathedral in the 13th century and a late Gothic structure in the 15th and 16th centuries. The present Baroque styled cathedral, the largest in Germany, was completed in the 17th century. The model was the cathedral in Salzburg. The octagonal upper parts of the two towers date from as far back as 1896. The interior with its elaborate stucco was done by the Italian artists, Carlone and Aglio, and the frescos by Tencalla and Bossi. The organ has five manuals, 231 stops and 17,463 pipes. It was reconstructed between 1977 and 1989 by Ludwig Eisenbarth from Passau. It is the largest church pipe organ in the world.

On the square in front of the cathedral, known as "Domplatz", is a statue of Maximilian I, King of Bavaria (1806 until his death in 1826). The monument, erected in 1824) was created by Karl Eichler and Christian Jorhan Jr. Before becoming King of Bavaria in 1806, he was called Duke Joseph of Palatinate. He became an ally of Napoleon in 1801. As King of Bavaria, he extended its borders by acquiring territories from neighboring Franconia and Swabia. In internal affairs, he carried out important reforms and gave Bavaria a constitution in 1818.