The construction of a multifunctional auditorium building, whose façade and interior are reminiscent of the historic University Church of St. Pauli, was part of the new development plans for the university campus at Augustusplatz in the early 2000s. Like its predecessor, the new building was once again to serve as an auditorium maximum, an event space for ceremonies, a place of worship and a meeting place. The Rotterdam architectural firm Erick van Egeraat emerged as the winner of a qualification process in 2004 and provided the designs for the Paulinum and the New Augusteum.

Fassade des Paulinums, 2018, Foto: Kustdie/Marion Wenzel
Facade of the Paulinum, 2018, Photo: Kustdie/Marion Wenzel
View of the Paulinum, 2020, Photo: Steffen Spitzner

About the Paulinum

Paulinum, Aulabereich im Vordergrund, hinten der Andachtsraum.
Paulinum, auditorium in the foreground, prayer room in the back, photo: Custody/Marion Wenzel

Space utilization

The predecessor building of the Paulinum already served as Auditorium Maximum and worship space at the same time. The Paulinum is divided into the auditorium to the west, which is used for university events, and the worship room to the east. Both parts of the room are separated by a movable Plexiglas wall in order to guarantee the most constant possible climatic conditions for the exhibited works of art. Numerous events take place in both areas: University ceremonies, concerts, lectures and much more. For larger events, concerts or the Sunday university service, the glass partition can be opened.

Reminder of the destruction

The Paulinum - assembly hall and university church of St. Paul - is intended to recall the historic university church. The neo-Gothic design of the façade and interior cites the historic University Church through characteristic stylistic elements, such as the pediment, the rose window and subdivided tracery windows. The minimalist design is supported by the light nuances of the Kirchheim shell limestone and the Spanish limestone. The asymmetry of the gable facade refers to the moment when the historic University Church was blown up in 1968, with the destruction further highlighted by a fine line in the stones above the tracery window.

Die historische Fotografie bildet die alte Paulinerkirche sowie das Augusteum der Universität ab.
Otto Sager/Carl Sabo, The University in Leipzig (detail), 1909, Photo: Archive Kustodie
Die Fotografie zeigt das weiße Sternnetzgewölbe des Paulinums und die Ansätze der beleuchteten Pfeiler
The vault of the Paulinum, 2020, Photo: Steffen Spitzner

Architectural interaction between old and new

Both the chancel area and the assembly hall feature late Gothic quotations from the historic Dominican Church of St. Pauli, such as the star-network vault and the striking octagonal pillars. The pillars, which are illuminated from within, act as special light sources, while the tracery window on the east façade brings daylight into the room. The spatial division is created by the pillars and the panels stretched between them, which are reminiscent of the former raised choir screens and serve as suspensions for the epitaphs.

Der Paulineraltar ist zur Festtagsseite aufgeklappt und zeigt Szenen aus dem Marien- und Jesus-Zyklus.
The Pauline Altar, Photo: Custody/Marion Wenzel

A masterpiece of carving

The altar in the choir room of the Paulinum is a testimony to the Leipzig late Gothic period around 1500. The elaborately carved Paulinum altar retable contains two transformations. Regularly, the altar is completely open in the second transformation (feast day side). Here the apostle Paul is presented centrally as a scholar with sword and book. A total of eight reliefs of the Jesus-Mary cycle frame him. In the first transformation the passion story of Jesus is shown. The closed state allows a view of two paintings with scenes from the Pauline legend. Below the altar wings is the predella with the depiction of the conversion of Paul, which remains visible in each consecration.

Das Totengedächtnismal für Daniel Eulenbeck ist gold und schmuckreich verziert. Zentral ist ein Gemälde, welches die Auferstehung Christi zeigt.
The epitaph for the student Daniel Eulenbeck, Photo: Custody/Marion Wenzel

Memorials of the dead in the prayer room

Like the monastery church of the Dominican monks, the University Church of St. Pauli continued to serve as a burial place after the Reformation. In the many hundreds of years between the 13th and 18th centuries, important personalities of the city and university history were buried in the church. Unique historical evidence has been preserved, especially from the period after the Reformation. Today, the devotional space once again houses the memorials rescued from the church before its demolition in 1968. The extensive restoration and subsequent installation was carried out by the Custody in the years 2002 - 2017.

The epitaphs (Latin epitaphium: "belonging to the grave") form an ensemble of academic funerary art that is significant in art history and unique in the world. Dating from the 16th to the 18th century, the works of art are made of wood, stone or metal. They were made in memory of deceased professors and masters of the university, but also dedicated to wealthy citizens of the city. The works of art, consisting of inscription panels, figures and ornaments, show more or less strong traces of their eventful history. Within the framework of the Custody's Epitaph Project in the years 2002 to 2017, the memorials were assembled, cleaned, conserved, restored and completed.

Hanging in the devotional room

Prof. Dr. Hiller von Gaertringen, as curator, took over the curatorial direction and planning of the installation of the epitaphs in the Paulinum's devotional room. The positioning of the artworks between the light columns impressively brings out the detailed elaboration of the epitaphs. Partial losses have been recorded on the objects, such as missing inscription panels, frame architecture or figural parts. Individual fragments have been replaced by visible aluminum elements, making it possible to distinguish the original parts from the additions. This results in a historically coherent picture at first glance, but the history of the objects remains legible. On closer inspection, one can discover the interplay of new and old materials.

Award of the epitaphs

European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2020

mong the winners of the European Heritage Award/Europa-Nostra-Preises 2020 include the epitaphs restored by the Custody in the devotional room of the Paulinum (assembly hall and university church of St. Pauli). The prize was awarded by the European Commission and the monument protection association Europa Nostra in Brussels. A ceremonial honor was not possible due to the Corona restrictions in 2020.

Das prachtvolle Epitaph des Ferdinand Hommel im Paulinum.
The epitaph for the jurist Ferdinand August Hommel, Photo: Custody/Marion Wenzel

Hanging plan of the epitaphs

Hängungsplan der Epitaphien im Andachtsraum des Paulinums.
Hängungsplan der Epitaphien im Andachtsraum des Paulinums, Foto: Kustodie.

The fate of the University Church and the rescue of the works of art

Die Schwarzweißfotografie zeigt den Moment der Sprengung der alten Paulinerkirche.
Demolition of the University Church in 1968, photo: Hartmut Scholz

Politically motivated blasting

In accordance with politically motivated decisions of the SED regime, the completely intact church was blown up on May 30, 1968, although it had been under monument protection since 1962. The project was pushed through against the will of broad sections of the population and with immense political pressure. The declared goal of the SED was to create a university complex at Augustusplatz characterized by socialist architecture: in the following years, the Karl Marx University campus was built with a high-rise building, rectorate building, refectory wing, seminar building and lecture hall building.

At least the party tolerated that works of art were salvaged in the week before the demolition. Thus, within a few days, a group of craftsmen from the city's department for the preservation of historical monuments tried to salvage what had to be removed or dismantled.

Ein Kupferstich zeigt die historische Ansicht auf Paulinerkirche und den botanischen Garten.
Unknown Leipzig workshop, Paullinerkirche with Hortus Medicus, 1707, Photo: Archive Kustodie

Change from monastery church to university church

The Dominican monastery in Leipzig was founded in 1231, and its monastery church of St. Pauli was consecrated nine years later. Originally, the Romanesque church building was probably equipped with a beamed ceiling. During the reconstruction from 1485 - 1521 into a late Gothic hall church, the ceiling was replaced by a star-net vault. The altar retable, which is still in the chancel, dates from this period. It was commissioned by the Dominican Order between 1480 and 1490. After the arrival of the Reformation in Leipzig in 1539 and the accompanying secularization of the monastery, the sovereign Duke Moritz of Saxony transferred the building complex to the university in 1543, including the entire furnishings and numerous monastic villages.

Even before the Reformation, the Paulinerkirche was Leipzig's most privileged burial place, whose importance was further strengthened with the burial place of a university elite. Between 1547 and 1770, elaborate epitaphs were created in stone, wood and metal. In the course of time, various alterations were made: the choir screens were raised, creating a dense, Baroque hanging of epitaphs, and several family chapels on the north side were also removed. Also, memorial monuments, which until 1710 were still placed in the family chapels, were now placed in the chancel by raising the choir barriers to six meters.

Die geretteten Skulpturen und Kunstwerke aus der alten Paulinerkirche wurden provisorisch gelagert.
The epitaphs during storage, photo: Custody/Chavdar Mikhalkov

Temporary storage and moving into art depot

Due to the lack of specialists, appropriate documentation and time, a proper and complete recovery of the art objects was associated with difficulties. Nevertheless, it was possible to salvage by far the largest part of the art objects.

The objects, which had been disassembled into their component parts, were brought by truck to the Dimitroff Museum in the former Reichsgericht and temporarily stored in cellar rooms and corridors. At the beginning of the 1980s, the objects were taken to a depot of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, where there was also no museum-like room climate and especially the wooden objects suffered damage. Some selected memorials were exhibited in the art collection in the rector's building since the beginning of the 1990s. The majority of the collection, however, remained in inappropriate storage for many years. In 2004, a university-owned art depository with modifiable climatic conditions was made possible and the move of the objects could take place. Shortly thereafter, the Custody began the restoration project of the epitaphs.

After the fall of communism, the possible reconstruction of the destroyed church was discussed for several years. Starting in 2002, an architectural competition for the redesign of the campus at Augustusplatz opened up new perspectives, also for the historical works of art. In the course of the planned new development, the Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat was finally able to convince with his designs in 2004. His architecture emphasizes the modern transformation of the university, but leaves enough room for historical reminiscences, which are skilfully incorporated into the building.

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