Saint Paulin Church
Saint Paulin Church is a Baroque church in the city of Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Germany. Constructed between 1734 and 1753, the interior was designed by Johann Balthasar Neumann. The ceiling of the nave features a painting by the artist Christoph Thomas Scheffler
Christoph Thomas Scheffler
Christoph Thomas Schaffler was a German painter of the rococo period. He is best known for his frescoes....

. The tomb of the saint after which the church is named, Paulinus, is located in the church's crypt.

Based in Germany's oldest city with a significant Roman history, three church buildings have stood on the site since the 4th century.

First church: 4th Century to 1039

Anti-Arian Paulinus of Trier
Paulinus of Trier
Saint Paulinus of Trier was bishop of Trier and a supporter of Athanasius in the conflict with Arianism. At the Synod of Arles of 353 he was targeted by the Arians, and was exiled, to Phrygia, being effectively singled out by the Emperor Constantius II. He died in exile five years later, but his...

 was a bishop of Trier before being exiled to Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

 in 353. He died there five years later, but his remains were returned to Trier in 395. Felix of Trier, a bishop of the city who held the post from 386 to 398, initiated the erection of a crypt and church on the current site of Saint Paulin Church, near a cemetery and just outside the walls of the city. Felix originally dedicated the church (and associated monastery) to the Theban Legion
Theban Legion
The Theban Legion figures in Christian hagiography as an entire Roman legion — of "six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men" — who had converted en masse to Christianity and were martyred together, in 286, according to the hagiographies of Saint Maurice, the chief among the Legion's...

, martyred, according to legend, near Agaunum
Roman Agaunum, the modern Saint-Maurice in the canton Valais in southwesternmost Switzerland, was a minor post confined between the Rhône and the mountains along the well-travelled road that led from Roman Genava, modern Geneva, over the Alps by the Great St...

 (present-day Saint Maurice-en-Valais) for refusing to renounce their Christian beliefs. The alleged remains of up to twelve of these martyred soldiers were placed in the crypt by Felix of Trier. Paulinus of Trier's body was later interred here also, and the dedication of the church was transferred to the saint. Several centuries later, in 1093, a fire destroyed the building, but the crypt was spared damage.

Second church: c. 1148 to 1674

Following the fire of the original, ancient church, a new building was constructed under Archbishop Bruno. Pope Eugene III
Pope Eugene III
Pope Blessed Eugene III , born Bernardo da Pisa, was Pope from 1145 to 1153. He was the first Cistercian to become Pope.-Early life:...

 consecrated the completed church in 1148. Smaller than the present building, the basilica featured a twin-tower façade with staircases either side, not unlike the balconies on the west face of the Cathedral of Trier
Cathedral of Trier
The Cathedral of Saint Peter is a church in Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is the oldest cathedral in the country. The edifice is notable for its extremely long life span under multiple different eras each contributing some elements to its design, including the center of the main chapel...

, built for displaying relics to the public.

French troops besieged and occupied Trier in 1673. In order to make space for an encampment, soldiers blew up the church the following year.

Third church: 1734 to present

Sixty years after the destruction of the second church by French troops, Franz Georg von Schönborn-Buchheim
Franz Georg von Schönborn-Buchheim
Franz Georg von Schönborn was the Archbishop-Elector of Trier from 1729 until 1756, and the Prince-Bishop of Worms and Prince-Provost of Ellwangen from 1732 until 1756.-Biography:...

, Archbishop of Trier, funded the erection of a new basilica. Designed as a single nave, probably by the architect Christian Kretzschmar, most of the internal elements were the work of Johann Balthasar Neumann, a significant Baroque architect responsible for several impressive buildings, such as the Würzburg Residence
Würzburg Residence
The Würzburg Residence is a palace in Würzburg, southern Germany. Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch, representants of the Austrian/South German Baroque were involved in the construction, as well as Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand, who were followers of the French Style...

. Dates for the completion of the church are given as 1743 or 1753, but it was consecrated in 1757. The tower reaches a height of 53 metres, and the length of the building is 52 m.

Between 1802 and 1804, the monastery associated with the church was dissolved when assets were seized by the French, losing the church its collegial
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

 status and becoming a parish church instead. On 23 May 1958, Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 awarded the church Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...


Features and functions

As well as being the architect of the building, Neumann contributed his Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 architectural flair to several internal elements, including the stucco work, ornate altars, and ciborium
Ciborium (architecture)
In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church. It may also be known by the more general term of baldachin, though ciborium is often considered more correct...

. The sculptor Ferdinand Tietz carried out several of Neumann's plans, carving elements such as the statuary and choir stalls.

The ceiling of the nave features a large fresco painted by Christoph Thomas Scheffler
Christoph Thomas Scheffler
Christoph Thomas Schaffler was a German painter of the rococo period. He is best known for his frescoes....

, portraying scenes from the life of St Paulinus and depictions of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion.

Organ-builder Romanus Benedict Nollet worked on the organ between 1753 and 1756. Klais Orgelbau, an organ building and restoration company, restored and electrified the pipe organ before 1934, and renewed it in 1991.

The church's four bells were cast by the brothers Charles and Joseph Perrin between 1821 and 1822. As few European bells from the 19th century survived two world wars, the bells are considered historically important.
Cast year
1 Paulinus & Trierische martyrs 1821 Joseph & Charles Perrin 1570 2365 B0 −11
2 Nikolaus & Donatus 1821 Joseph & Charles Perrin 1420 1774 C#1 –9
3 Michael & Walburga 1821 Joseph & Charles Perrin 1273 1239 D1 −5
4 Petrus & Johannes Nepomuk 1822 Joseph & Charles Perrin 1168 1017 E1 −4

The church is active as a place of worship and is open for viewing by the public several days each week. It also hosts concerts, usually organ recitals. The martyrdom of the Theban Legion is commemorated each year in October by opening the crypt to visitors who wish to view the tombs of the Roman soldiers interred there. At other times of year, it is normally only possible to view a portion of the crypt through a metal grille.

The church still maintains a cemetery in its grounds, and in 1989 a chapel was erected near the grave of Blessed
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

 Blandine Merten, who died in Trier in 1918.
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