By the end of the 16th century, most parts of Upper Lusatia have become Protestant. Only the Cistercian convents St. Marienstern and St. Marienthal as well as the Order of St. Mary in Lauban and the cathedral chapter Bautzen resisted the Reformation.

The abbess of St. Marienthal at the time of Martin Luther wanted to transform the monastery into a Protestant diocese for women. Consequently, she was sent away and everything stayed the way it was. Even though the monastery was not reformed, the entire neighborhood became Protestant. 

The new abbess of St. Marienthal preempted several properties surrounding the monastery and leased only to Catholic people. In this way the neighborhood of St. Marienthal became Catholic once again. There were not Protestant churches left until 1890, when the first one was re-established in Ostritz. The wood to build the church hall was supplied by the monastery. 

This was the first act of ecumenism for decades. Today there are many examples of a peaceful cooperation between the two denominations.

Text by student Dorothea Utermöhlen


On Monday morning we started with the traditional “Erzaehlcafe”. This year every country presented how Reformation has proceeded and influenced ecclesial communities, politics, education, art and daily life.

In the 16th century, Germany consisted of many principalities whose dukes were enabled to decide on their subjects religion. If the inhabitants did not want to adopt the denomination of their duke, they had to leave. First, most of Silesia, Upper Lusatia and Bohemia became protestant. As of the 17th century, the Counterreformation established under Habsburg rule and Catholicism promulgated again. This enmity was stopped with the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. From now on the Protestants were officially allowed to practice their religion.

Also the Czech lands were ruled by the Habsburgs. When Ferdinand I. tried to recatholicize Bohemia, he failed and promised no recatholicization, the repayment of debts and retaining the rights to the towns. The contention between Protestants – or rather Utraquists, because most Czechs followed Jan Hus – and Catholics got worse and churches were destroyed. In 1618 the second defenestration took place in Prague. This initiated the Czech War. Both denominations prepared for battle by arranging troops. On the 8th of November in 1620, the Catholics won the final Battle of White Mountain. Czech was recatholicized and Protestants left Bohemia.

After the war ended in 1945, Germans were dispersed, which led to a shift of the denominations. Nowadays Poland is mostly Catholic, as well as Czech Republic; most parts of Germany are Protestant. Bosnia and Herzegovina is religiously unaffiliated.

On Wednesday we all went to Bautzen to visit the Cathedral St. Petri. It is a double church, or to put it another way: it is used by both the Catholic and the Protestant community. 

During the Reformation, when most of Bautzen’s inhabitants converted to Protestantism, the cathedral chapter stayed Catholic. Only in 1525 the first ecumenical Holy Communion took place and since 1540 the church is used by both denominations. The interior was divided into two parts, separated by a high gate that was always opened. Everything, except the bells, is available twice. 

For hundreds of years the cathedral chapter has been the center of the Catholic minority in Saxony and Upper Lusatia. Only since 1980, the bishopric moved to Dresden.

The tour through the cathedral was held one of the ministers of the lutheran community Christian Tiede.

On Tuesday Mr. Dr. Matthias Donath visited us to tell us something about the impacts of the Reformation throughout Europe. 

He was born in 1975 and has studied history of art, Christian and classical archaeology. He is specialized on the history of Saxony and the architecture during the period of National Socialism.

First of all, Dr. Donath portrayed the general course of the reformation including the theories of Jan Hus and Jean Calvin. Subsequently, we learned about how the situation of a Europe with split denominations was handled. The Reformation fanned out over Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and later on over many other counties. Today the North is rather Protestant and the South rather Catholic coined. 

He concluded by elucidating the set-up of the Protestant and the Catholic community as well as the impacts of the Lutheran doctrine today.

Annotation: The lecture was held in german, we left out the english to make it more compact.

Erina and Ema made a wonderful video with some impressions of workshop work and evening activities -  Have fun watching it :-)




surname/1st name

1/ Havlová Beata

2/ Bajerová Veronika

3/ Kirjakovská Sára

4/ Matyášová Alžběta

5/ Brádlerová Veronika

6/ Vanclová Lenka B)

7/ Tomeš Jan

Teacher: Luzia


II Hannover

8. Aselmeyer, Bernadette

9. Behrens, Svenja B)

10. Lange, Stefanie

11. Ulbricht, Johanna

  1. How do you like to meet people of other religions and nations here in St. Marienthal?

I like it very much, because I think it is necessary to prevent prejudices as well as to resolve them. It is the only way to exchange views. I think, if you really want to understand each other , you have to learn from practitioners. In my opinion, if you ask an infidel about what a believer believes, it is as if a blind man tries to describe a landscape. 

  1. What do you think of the Marienthal-seminar?

Adding to that I have mentioned before, the important aspect about Marienthal are the young people, because they are of course our all future. They are open for knowledge and those being here really are interested in this issue and are not just random people.


  1. How did reformation affect your religion?

It is vitally important to adjust the rules of the Quran to the time, community and generation in question as well as to technology and science. So far interpretations never produced any aberrations, not least because Islam is pretty much based on moral principles which go hand in hand with a sense of justice.


  1. Do you think another reformation is necessary?

It happens all the time. For example, when we notice that there is a new illness and it is said that you should avoid everything that harms you, then we have to think about how to handle this new situation. Or another sample: Nowadays we have got lots of synthetics. Is it really necessary to kill an animal just to get its coat? It is forbidden to kill creatures of God. Or think about intensive livestock farming. I think those are aspects that have to be reconsidered.


  1. What do you think about the actions of Luther?

First of all, if somebody notices injustice or that anything goes wrong and he stands up against it and addresses the matter, that is courage. And if – whether it is the church or not – somebody acts against the Holy Scripture, everyone has the right to rise up against the unrighteousness. Consequently a lot of trouble arose and people died, but that is because the Catholic Church started to fight against Luther. It simply is pretty much normal that the prevailing power tries to quench a revolt. Because of that, most of the time a civil war is inevitable. Luther has tried to solve the problem peacefully. But the actions of his followers were not correct. However, Luther is not responsible for that, because he never called on them to kill others.

I want to emphasize that I neither equate Christianity with the Catholic Church nor that I think that all Catholics were the same.

 An der Konferenz haben 63 Menschen aus sechs Nationen teilgenommen. Die Gruppe aus Litauen mussten kurzfristig absagen, da das gebuchte Busunternehmen Insolvenz angemeldet hat und den Transport nicht mehr durchführen konnte. Die bereits bezahlten Fahrkarten wurden leider bis heute nicht erstattet. 

Die Konferenz begann mit einem gemeinsamen Abendessen und einer anschließenden Begrüßung. 

  Am Vormittag des 05.10.15 präsentierten die einzelnen Gruppen die Ergebnisse ihrer „Heimatrecherchen“ zum Thema „Auswirkungen der Reformation“ in den jeweiligen Regionen. Durch diese Vorbereitung der Teilnehmenden in ihren Heimatländern mit dem Thema kamen schon bei der anfänglichen Präsentation erstaunliche Ergebnisse zu Tage. Kaum jemand hätte z.B. dem katholischen Polen eine intensive reformatorische Vergangenheit im schlesischen zugetraut. Neben diesem sehr intensiven inhaltlichen Einstieg in die Thematik konnten sich die Teilnehmenden der Konferenz durch diese Präsentationen und anschließenden Gespräche an den einzelnen Plakaten auch gut kennenlernen, was für den weiteren Verlauf der Konferenz von großer Bedeutung war. 

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