Church St. Arbogast

Stadtführung Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Visit the church, churchyard and ossuary

Autor: Heimatkunde Muttenz

Dorfkirche St. Arbogast

Dorfkirche St. Arbogast

Kirchenbau, Fresken, Kirchhof, Beinhaus, Grenzsteine, Käppelisäule ..

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1. Introduction St. Arbogast

Kirchplatz 18, 4132 Muttenz, CH

With its defensive wall, the village church of Muttenz is unique in Switzerland.

In the year 793 AD Muttenz is mentioned for the first time in a document. It belonged to the Strasbourg Cathedral Chapter. The church is therefore consecrated to St. Arbogast, the first Frankish bishop of Strasbourg.

In 1306 Muttenz went to Austria (feudal holders were, among others, the Münch von Münchenstein). After the earthquake of 1356, Muttenz and Münchenstein were united.

In the second half of the 15th century Muttenz went to Basel as a pledge (Münch were impoverished), and the Petersstift in Basel became responsible for the church. In 1515 Muttenz finally went to Basel through purchase and now shared its fate (Reformation 1529).

Since the division of the canton of Basel in 1833, Muttenz has belonged to the canton of Baselland.

2. Church exterior: wall, gate towers

Kirchplatz 18, 4132 Muttenz, CH

During the warlike times at the beginning of the 15th century, the 7m high defensive wall with a crenellated wreath and the two gate towers were built under the feudal bearer Hans Thüring Münch-Epting.

The Münch coat of arms can be found above the entrance to the gate towers (a monk, around 1420/30). The fortifications served as a refuge for the villagers in times of war (Battle of St. Jakob in 1444). The cemetery was located within the wall until 1860. The wall was once surrounded on the south and west side by the open village stream.

In 1880 the Muttenz community assembly decided to demolish the defensive wall, which the Zurich art historian J.R. Rahn was able to prevent by convincing the Muttenz population of the uniqueness of the defensive wall. The church is therefore the only one in Switzerland that is still enclosed by a high circular wall.

3. Guard house

Kirchplatz 1, 4132 Muttenz, CH

The guard house dates from the 17th century. The night watchman was also the lighter of the lantern and also sent the children home on his tour, as they were no longer allowed to linger in the streets after dark.
Every now and then, drunk or traveling people were accommodated in the guard house.
The guard also called out notices (“I would like to buy horse meat, I have to go to the butcher Ruedi”). The last night watchman was in office until 1933. His successor was then called the local police officer.

4. Tower with bells

Kirchplatz 1, 4132 Muttenz, CH

At the same time as the defensive wall, Hans Thüring Münch-Eptingen also had a higher tower built (27m). His coat of arms is clearly visible at the bottom of the tower.
His mother Agnes von Brandis donated a bell in 1435. Today it is the oldest of the six bells in the tower and rings at 3 p.m. (in summer at 4 p.m.). The other bells date from 1494, 1571, 1767/1841, and two bells from 1948.


5. Inside: overview

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Archaeological investigations showed two smaller previous buildings (around 800 and slightly larger around 1100). Today's church, with its oldest components, dates from around 1200, so it is around 800 years old. Like the buildings in the entire Basel region, this church was also badly damaged in the Basel earthquake of 1356 and then rebuilt.

The antechoir with the Romanesque cubic capitals remained and is therefore the oldest part (around 1200). After the earthquake, the altar house (now rectangular) and the nave were rebuilt under the fiefdom bearer Konrad Münch-Löwenberg, and then the church was decorated with paintings.
After the church came under the control of St. Peter's Monastery in Basel in the second half of the 15th century, it had the entire church repainted in 1507. The paintings of the churches in the Middle Ages always followed the same program: Whenever possible, a church was oriented to the east. The Passion story was depicted on the (dark) north side, the life of Mary on the (light) south side and the Last Judgment on the west side (the setting of the sun). This also applies to Muttenz.

After the Reformation of 1529, however, all paintings were whitewashed and Bible verses were written on the wall.
The increase in population meant that a gallery was added, and instead of one window, two windows were now broken out on the north and south walls, because the paintings were not visible, regardless of their destruction.

During a renovation in 1880, the old paintings were rediscovered and the famous Muttenz artist Karl Jauslin had tracings and watercolors made from all of the paintings. After that they were whitewashed again, with the exception of the Last Judgment on the west wall. With the renovation from 1973-75, the paintings were made visible again.

6. Triumphal arch, choir, nave, organ

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Triumphal arch
The coats of arms of Konrad Münch von Münchenstein (a monk) and his wife Katharina von Löwenberg, who were responsible for the reconstruction after the earthquake, can be seen on the triumphal arch.

Wooden ceiling
The carved wooden ceiling with inscription was made in 1504 by "Ulrich Bruder Tischmacher ze Basel". At that time, the Petersstift in Basel was responsible for the church. Most of the paintings visible today were made at that time (1507), with the exception of the resurrection niche and in the antechoir of the Arbogast legend (1450), as well as the evangelist medallion (early 14th century).

Organ
The old organ had filled the entire altar house and was replaced by a new organ on the gallery after the renovation in the 1970s (Neidhardt & Lhôte, Geneva).

7. Pre-choir

Kirchplatz 8a, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Evangelist medallion (around 1320) and Arbogast legend (around 1450)
Before the earthquake, four evangelist medallions could be seen (three of them can only be found in fragments distributed in the antechoir and altar house), the medallion above the door to the sacristy is very nicely preserved. It is dated to around 1320, making it the oldest painting in the church.

After the restoration after the earthquake, Konrad Münch-Löwenberg had the church painted. The legend of St. Arbogast, the church patron, dates from this time. There was also an arm relic of him, which however disappeared after the Reformation.
Two scenes from the Arbogast legend can be found in the antechoir on the north wall: On the left, King Dagobert and his wife bring their son Siegbert, who was killed by a boar in a hunting accident, to Bishop Arbogast and ask for help. In the second picture, Bishop Arbogast prays to God at the altar and thus brings the son back to life.

On the window front opposite there were pictures of the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of Mary. However, they are hardly recognizable any more. The legend of St. Nicholas can be seen better to the left (on the east wall to the altar house): Nicholas gives three poor virgins gold balls to save them from being sold to a cathouse. Above it is an angel holding a damask drapery (created at the end of the 15th century under the Petersstift).

There were also paintings in the vault, presumably the four evangelist symbols. Only the coats of arms of Konrad Münch-Löwenberg can be seen on the ribs.

8. North wall: Passion (1507) and Resurrection niche (around 1450)

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

After the Petersstift in Basel became responsible for the church, it had the whole church repainted (1507).

The north side shows the passion story. It begins at the top left (in the west, where the sun sets) with the entry into Jerusalem, the Lord's Supper, the imprisonment, etc. - some things were destroyed after the two windows were installed - the cross-nailing between the two windows can be clearly seen, still faint the Descent from the Cross.

The passion story ends with the resurrection niche below: This painting dates back to around 1450 (like the Arbogast legend from the time of Konrad Münch-Löwenberg). The colors are very well preserved here because this niche was walled up after the Reformation and the painting was not discovered around 1880 and was therefore not whitewashed twice.

Presumably the image of the dead Christ was placed here during the Passion. The dead Christ was then no longer to be seen at Easter, because he was substituted with the image of the risen Christ with the victory flag.

9. South wall: Life of Mary and 10 commandments

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Here, too, the cycle begins at the top left (in the east, where the sun rises) with the parents of Mary: Joachim and Anna, the birth of Mary unfortunately destroyed, but clearly to be seen: the passage to the temple of Mary, the marriage and, in the far west, the birth of Christ. The flight to Egypt can be seen particularly clearly, including the large picture: the death of Mary.

The representation of the ten commandments is special, but unfortunately difficult to read due to the two whitewashing.

10. West Wall: The Last Judgment

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

With the exception of the Last Judgment here on the west side, the paintings found in the whole church were whitewashed again after 1880. The Last Judgment, however, was restored by the well-known Muttenz artist Karl Jauslin (at that time that meant painting over as precisely as possible line by line). Unfortunately, the organ covers a large part of the picture today, but the heavenly side (with Saint Peter) can be seen well, as well as the terrible hell's jaws with the devilish beings on the other side of the organ. Despite the exact overpainting, the style of the 19th century is clearly expressed; the difference to the paintings (south and north sides) from the beginning of the 16th century, which have been exposed again in the meantime, is clearly noticeable.

11. Apostles cycle

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

The apostles (distributed on three walls at the exit) with the creed can be seen as a pillar of the church, as well as the date 1507 (corner of the north wall).

12. Ossuary outside

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

The cemetery was located around the church until 1860. This included the ossuary, which was built in the second half of the 15th century to store the bones that were taken from the old graves in order to be able to make room for new burials.

On the outer wall above the door Saint Michael, to the left of him Saint Christopher, to the right a Madonna in a protective cloak. The date of origin 1513 above the window.

13. Ossuary inside

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

In the ossuary there was a Michaels altar (mentioned in 1480). The carved wooden ceiling dates from the same time as the wooden ceiling in the church, the murals from 1513 (date top right at the Last Judgment). The bones were piled up in the ossuary.

Matching this is the Last Judgement and on the east wall Saint Michael with the scales for weighing the souls (corner of the south wall). An impressive, delicately colored Last Judgement covers the entire south wall.

On the west wall, the legend of the grateful dead: a knight prays for the salvation of the dead as he walks past and is one day attacked by robbers. The dead rush to his aid and drive away the horrified robbers. (Restorations: 1955/56 and 2020).

14. Grave of the fallen Basel people

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

In the battle at the Hülftenschanz in 1833, 69 soldiers died and over 100 were wounded. In the communities of Frenkendorf, Pratteln and Muttenz, hand carts were requisitioned to bury the dead in the church yards. 33 people from Basel were buried in Muttenz.

15. Epitaph Hieromymus d’Annone (Hieronymus Annoni)

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Hieronymus d’Annone (1697 - 1770) was pastor in Muttenz from 1747 until his death and an important representative of pietism. He was very popular, on Sundays you often had to get additional benches in the surrounding houses in order to have enough seats for the worshipers pouring in from all over the place.

16. Column of the chapel at Käppeli

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

The chapel that gave the Käppeli tram stop its name stood at Käppeliweg 19-23. It is mentioned in the field name book in 1435 as "under the keppelin". The chapel is said to have been abandoned during the Reformation. The draftsman Emanuel Büchel found only remains of columns in the 18th century. One of the pillars is located today in the churchyard of the village church.

17. Landmarks collection

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

In the churchyard by the rear gate tower, there is a collection of historical boundary stones, which Jakob Eglin brought together after field regulation at the beginning of the 20th century and set up in this atmospheric location.

At that time, fields were regulated because efficient cultivation of the fields had become practically impossible. New dirt roads were created and property was consolidated. A cantonal law said that now only granite boundary stones could be erected, so that 112 boundary stones had to be replaced. Since then you can see them in the churchyard. They impressively show who used to be landowners in Muttenz (listed on the board).

The boundary stones were extremely important because there were no geometers and corresponding records. It therefore happened again and again that someone secretly moved a stone in his favor at night. But now it was possible to check whether the stone was still in the correct old place. Secret signs were placed under the boundary stone that were aimed at the neighboring boundary stones. Three men, the so-called Gescheid, were the only ones who knew how these secret signs worked.

18. Karl Jauslin's tomb

Kirchplatz 1, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Karl Jauslin (1842-1904) from Muttenz was a very well-known Swiss painter and illustrator. He is best known as a history painter. He has received various prizes and awards.

Karl Jauslin was buried in the Muttenz cemetery. Some time ago the tomb was moved to the church yard.
In addition, a memorial stone was placed on the curtain wall in 1942.

19. Sexton's house

Kirchplatz 10, 4132 Muttenz, CH

Today's Sexton's house was built in 1553 with a living and economic part (coat of arms with a butcher's ax in the top of the arched door).

The open village stream flowed past here, a building was erected above it, the Schol, in which the animals were slaughtered.

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