Abbot Heribert von Lülsdorf
- Date of Brass:
This month’s brass commemorates Abbot Heribert von Lülsdorf (1481) from
Kornelimünster, in Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany
Transactions (vol.X (1965), pt.3, pp.173-4) contains an article entitled “Brasses in
Germany & the Low Countries” by Messrs. Belonje & Greenhill, which features the above brass from the parish church of St Kornelius Kornelimünster, formerly a Benedictine Abbey founded in the 9th century.
An illustration opposite page 173 from a work by L. von Fisenne (1880) shows
the brass after its first restoration in the 19th century. It comprises a central plate with a demi figure of the abbot under a canopy, and a separate marginal inscription
with its missing parts reproduced on wooden blocks. These parts comprise the
bottom two evangelical symbols, and a shield within quadrilobes on the sinister
side displaying the arms of Lülsdorf and Schönrode, as well as two portions of
the marginal inscription.
The authors of the article describe the brass as such, which suggests they may
not have seen it even though it was restored again in 1907 - a restoration they
refer to in the article - when the wooden parts were replaced with brass. This
could be explained by the fact that the brass, or at least the central plate, was
loose in the Pastor’s house in 1964 according to Cameron.1
The brass today is on the north wall of the Sacristy in the north east corner of
the church, mounted on a large steel plate standing proud of the wall, similar to
the arrangement for the Loeman made brass to Duchess Katharina von Geldern
(1497), in the restored church of St. Mary Magdalena at Geldern, in the same
German State as Kornelimünster. The whole of the marginal inscription (2100
x 133 mm) is affixed to this plate with coach-bolts, the heads of which protrude
significantly above the surface of the brass. The heraldic quadrilobe on the
sinister side remains in the wrong location – it should have been centrally
positioned in common with its counterpart on the dexter side. The central plate
(790 x 435 mm) depicting the abbot, has less obtrusive fixings. (See photos of
the brass and my rubbing from 2009)
There is now a detailed entry for the brass in Deutsches Inschriften Online 2 in
the context of the city archive now holding the decorated wooden blocks which
were part of the brass at the first restoration.
The Latin text of the complete inscription and the detail of the heraldry is found
in Transactions Vol X and DIO above, and need not be repeated here. The brass
was most likely made in Aachen or Köln. It is not Flemish and does not display
any Flemish influence. Instead it is typically German with a detached marginal
inscription and central quadrangular plate. It is also unique in the sense that it
does not fit into a defined school of brasses. There are several German brasses
in the north and west of Germany which can be similarly described as “schoolless”.
Additional information about Abbot Lülsdorf and his brass is as follows:
1. The brass was originally set in a slab of Aachen Bluestone and positioned
on the floor of a vaulted aisle serving as a chapel on the south side of the
church in front of the Altar to St. Marien. This chapel, together with an
interconnected one of identical size with an Altar to St Anna, was part of
a significant extension to the then abbey, commissioned by the Abbot
during his tenure from 1450-1481. Other building works were carried out
by a successor, Abbot Heinrich von Binsfeld 1491 – 1531, resulting in the
church that largely exists today.
2. Lülsdorf was made Deacon in 1442 and was Abbot effectively from
1450-1478. By 1481 at the latest it appears he had resigned due to ill
health according to Kühn.3 Around 1460 Lülsdorf commissioned a
limestone statue of St Kornelius which is situated in the choir, affixed to
the first pillar on the left (north) side of the High Altar. Its stylistic
features suggest it was made in a workshop in Köln, possibly by the
sculptor and cathedral master builder Konrad Kuyn.4 It is 3.6 metres high
and its base, which is in the form of a pedestal, is decorated with two
subservient pilgrim figures at the bottom (a woman with a scarf on her
head and pilgrim’s hat around her neck and a man wearing a hat and
carrying a bag). Just above the pilgrims is the figure of Abbot Lülsdorf
with mitre and crozier flanked by two angels each holding a shield
displaying his coat of arms. The statue was the subject of extensive
restoration in 2013 by Conservator Karen Keller, including desalination5.
The abbey church was dissolved in 1802 whilst the surrounding territory was
under French rule at which point it became the parish church. The monastery
was re-founded by the Benedictines in a different location in Kornelimünster
in 1906. The parish church contains some notable furnishings, in particular
the early 14th century choirstalls with misericords, wall and vaulted ceiling
paintings, and a fine winged altar from the beginning of the 16th C. There is a
lavish Baroque high altar and some very striking stained glass windows from
the 20th century.
1 Cameron HK “ A List of Monumental Brasses on the Continent of Europe”
(MBS 1970) p.58.
2 DI 32, Stadt Aachen, Nr. 38 (Helga Giersiepen) in www.inschriften.net, urn:nbn:de:0238-di032d002k0003809
3 Kühn N “Die Reichtsabtei Kornelimünster “ von J Mötsch/ M Schoebel (Mainz 1994) p.35.
4 Stresius, Lothar “ Kornelimünster Benediktinerabtei – Propsteikirche – Ort” (Regensburg 2017) p.154
5 Stresius op.cit. pp 154-156.
1. Kühn, Norbert “Die Reichsabtei Kornelimünster im Mittelalter” Mayer 1982. ISBN -13 978-3875190009
2. Stresius, Lothar “Kornelimünster Benediktinerabtei-Propsteikirche-Ort” Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2017. ISBN 978-3-7954-2719-1.
3. Mathar,L & Voigt, A “ über Die Entstehung Der Metallindustrie Im Bereich Der
Erzvorkommen Zwischen Dinant und Stolberg “ Ed. Otto Junker GMBH, Lammersdorf 1969.
© Kevin Herring
All photographs by Charlotte Rogers
W.F. Creeny, A Book of Fac-similes of Monumental Brasses on the Continent of Europe (Norwich, 1884), pl. 69.
H.K. Cameron, ‘Brasses on the Continent’, Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, VII, pt. 7 (1940). pp. 325-6.
M. Norris, Monumental Brasses: The Memorials, 2 vols. (London, 1977), I, p. 216.
K. Krüger, Corpus der mittelalterlichen Grabdenkmäler in Lübeck, Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg (1100-1600) (Stuttgart, 1999), pp. 954-5 (LUMA*81).
Copyright Nicholas Rogers
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