Eager and joyful anticipation

St. Mary's Cathedral in Hildesheim officially re-opens on 15 August 2014

After almost five years in construction, Hildesheim Cathedral will officially re-open on Friday 15 August, the feast day of the church's patron saint. All believers of the diocese are cordially invited to this event. Vicar General Prelate Dr. Werner Schreer and the Dean, Bishop Hans-Georg Koitz, have been looking forward to the re-opening of Hildesheim Cathedral ever since work began almost five years ago.

Generalvikar Prälat Dr. Werner Schreer und der Domdechant, Weihbischof Hans-Georg Koitz, freuen sich auf die Wiedereröffnung des Hildesheimer Domes nach fast fünfjähriger Bauzeit.

Vicar General Prelate Dr. Werner Schreer and
the Dean, Bishop Hans-Georg Koitz, have
been looking forward to the re-opening of
Hildesheim cathedral ever since work began
almost five years ago. Photo: bph

"Five years of construction noise on the largest church building site in Germany will soon be over", says Emeritus Bishop Hans-Georg Koitz. As Dean, he is the guardian of the cathedral and has guided people through the building site time and again during the construction phase. "I eagerly anticipate the re-opening of the remodelled cathedral. It will be like a big church birthday party", explains Koitz.

Vicar General of the diocese, Prelate Dr. Werner Schreer is also looking forward to the opening: "I feel privileged to have been part of this unique project". The further the construction work progresses, the higher the anticipation, he says. 15 August is the big day. At 5pm the Bishop will strike Bernward's door with his crosier, open it and enter the cathedral. "And everyone can take part. The cathedral is open to everyone," says Schreer. Although spaces are limited, early arrival should guarantee a spot in the cathedral. The altar consecration service will also be broadcast on big screen in the cathedral square. And those unable to make it to Hildesheim can watch the celebrations online via a live stream.

After the re-opening service, the cathedral will be open to visitors late into the night, during which time members of the cathedral chapter will offer guided tours of the episcopal church. Meanwhile the celebrations will continue in the cathedral square.

The next day the main focus will be on the organ and the baptismal font. At 10am on Saturday 16 August, the new organ will be consecrated at the HI fair at 10am. Afterwards a celebratory piece will be played on the organ every hour, and then visitors will have the opportunity to take a tour of the cathedral with a member of the cathedral chapter. The baptismal font will be officially inaugurated in ecumenical vespers with baptismal commemoration at 6pm.

The re-opening of the cathedral also marks the beginning of the diocese jubilee. All congregations will celebrate the 1200-year existence of the diocese on Sunday 17 August. "To reinforce the message that the Hildesheim jubilee should be celebrated throughout the entire diocese, Bishop Norbert, the auxiliary bishops and myself as Vicar General intend to celebrate the re-opening service with congregations in the north, south, east and west", says Schreer. They will visit the congregations of St. Mary (Cuxhaven), St. Elisabeth (Hann. Münden), St. Ludger (Helmstedt) and St. Mary (Bückeburg). Meanwhile the Dean will preside over the cathedral service.

There will be a week of celebrations with special days for tradesmen, pastoral staff or donors from 18 to 22 August. The first pilgrim Saturday is scheduled for Saturday 23 August. The day will begin at 11.30am with a “spiritual welcome” in the cathedral. This will be followed by midday prayers and a short organ concert. This special event for pilgrims will take place every Saturday during the jubilee year.

But it's not just the building that has been revamped. The remodelled cathedral also has a new logo: a stylised rose.

After the official opening celebrations, St. Mary's Cathedral and the new cathedral foyer will be open daily from 10am to 6pm. Visitors can access the cathedral and view the rosebush during these hours.

"We expect a great deal of interest in the remodelled cathedral", says Vicar General Dr. Werner Schreer. Therefore there will be two official tours every day. However, from November to February this will be reduced to one official tour per day. Individual tours can also be arranged. There are no tours on feast days including Easter, Christmas, Pentecost Sunday, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day or the days of the Holy Week. A flyer with information about opening hours and tours of St. Mary's Cathedral and the 1000-year-old rosebush is available now.

There will also be a consecration before the official opening of the cathedral: the new bells will be consecrated in the cathedral square at 7.30pm on the 14 May, which is the day of the cathedral consecration festival. Then at 5pm on 15 August the new and old bells of the episcopal church will be tuned to the bells of all the churches in the diocese, thus heralding the beginning of the diocese jubilee.