Twistringen-Heiligenloh. “The place name Heiligenloh stands for an old pagan place of worship” can be read on the sign in the display case in front of the church, but Pastor Anke Orths cannot confirm this. The place was first mentioned in 1252 and was already a central church place at that time. However, the early Gothic church building in the middle of the town was only built around 1270. In 1896, the nave was structurally changed. Eight brick buttresses were bricked up because the church was in danger of breaking apart. This reinforcement has proven itself to this day, the pastor knows. But it was not the only change that the Royal Building Council and Consistorial Architect Conrad Wilhelm Haase (1818-1902) made.
According to his plans, the nave was expanded to include an octagonal choir room, which is still the architectural gem of the church. The large windows with stained glass elements throw their light on the impressive altar and the large altar cross can be seen in front of one of the windows. It shows Jesus Christ suffering on the cross with an inclined look and is in the colors red and gold. “Our church marks the border with our Catholic neighborhood,” explains Pastor Anke Orths in the sanctuary. You can see that on the interior decor. In spite of the ornate appearance, the pulpit is completely without a figurative representation, in order to focus attention on the proclaimed word of God in the Lutheran tradition. And there are even more special features. The pastor points to the baptismal font. It is the oldest piece of the church and dates from the Romanesque-early Gothic period of church building. Plant ornaments, more precisely, twelve vine leaves adorn the top of the circular vessel. They stand for the twelve disciples and their connection to Jesus Christ. “When the church was redesigned in 1838, the baptismal font was removed from the church and then disappeared.” The pastor has to smile when she points to the recesses in the round: “So that the water could drain better, because the baptismal font has been misused as a cattle trough”.
In 1953 it was re-erected. The pulpit was installed on the right. It replaces the pulpit altar. Originally equipped with a foot and a sound cover, it now stands out due to its rich color, which brings out the curtain bow painting with a floral motif, which was discovered and uncovered in 2012, to its best advantage.
On the other side, on the west gallery, you can admire the valuable Meyer organ. “The Heiligenloher did not want to be inferior to the Twistringers and collected money for the organ. Back then, it cost 70 cows around 1696, ”Orths reports. From the organ you can admire the impressive ceiling frescoes from the late Gothic period, which were uncovered in 2003. They show Jesus as the judge of the world and the woman figure kneeling next to him is probably Maria, the bearded man’s head on his right is probably the disciple John.
“This church has always been a living church, generations left their mark here and it has remained so to this day”, the pastor is happy about the commitment of her church members. The impressive church tower, 34 meters high, is illuminated in the evenings at the initiative of the Heiligenloh beautification association and the Heiligenloh Evangelical Lutheran Church support association. 85 steps lead up to the bells, past the housing of the church tower clock, which is still completely intact, and at the entrance to the attic. From there, a fixed wooden walkway provides interesting views from above of the three cross vaults and the attached apse.
Charred wooden beams are clearly visible on the ascent. They still bear witness to the church fire in 1905. During a summer thunderstorm on July 16, lightning struck and set fire to the church spire and the wooden belfry. Fortunately, the volunteer fire brigade Heiligenloh was founded exactly this year, which was used for the first time and could prevent the fire from spreading to the church roof and nave. The reconstruction began in the same year under the direction of the architect and Haase student Friedrich Jacob. Three bells also melted during the fire. Two were replaced, but one was unusable after 20 years and was replaced by a bronze bell in 1981.
From height to depth: When building the boiler room, in 1966 one came across a brick underground vault with two coffins. According to the church records, eleven people were buried here in the 17th and 18th centuries, including the royal valet Hermann Hoburg, a native of Heiligenloher, who had been in the service of the royal family of Hanover at a young age. In 1760 he returned to his homeland. The silver communion tableware was donated by him.
The baptismal tree, which was inspired and designed by Bianca and Sven Blumberg on the occasion of their son’s baptism, shows that church members are still committed to the church today. “During confirmation, the apples with the pictures are returned to the confirmands,” explains Anke Orths. The Easter candle is another example. The metal stand was made in 2002 by Reinhardt Wolter. The motif is redesigned by Renate Windeler for each Easter night. This year the candle could not be lit due to Corona, as there was no service. “We are a small place, so it was good that there was still a market here, and then you met your community members. So the contact was not lost in the weeks without church services. “Nevertheless, the pastor is happy that church services are finally possible again. Together with the church council and other helpers, she has taken appropriate precautions. Due to the applicable distance rules, not every seat can be filled But a solution was also found for this: “If there are too many, we simply repeat the service,” she says.