Differing ideas about the preservation and operation of churches have often led to disputes between their leaders and monument conservators, which have been fought out with a lot of blood.

However, the fact that a monument heritage organization claims that a cathedral board and its historians do not know which altar was in the west choir of their own cathedral is a powerful piece that has not happened since the founding of the preservation of monuments.

Stefan Trinks

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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As a reminder: Due to a protest by ICOMOS, which decides in Paris on the preservation of monuments relating to world cultural heritage, Cranach's west choir altar, which was supplemented by the painter Michael Triegel over the past two years, has to be dismantled on the day before St. Nicholas and temporarily set up in Paderborn for a few months (FAZ dated July 5th and October 31st).

With the aesthetically successful recovery of the lost liturgical center of their west choir, the United Cathedral Donors of Naumburg plead for the right of every generation to add something to a living church.

Above all, however, they refer to the fact that Cranach's reredos, which were partially destroyed in the iconoclasm of September 11, 1541, actually stood on the altar of Mary in the west choir, which is of great importance because the 1964 Venice Charter for the Protection of Monuments, as a result of which ICOMOS was founded, expressly endorses the (re)installation of objects and paintings created for a specific space.

The people agree that they are right: of the 1,300 visitors to the cathedral surveyed, 73 percent were enthusiastic about the new-old altar.

The chronicler is not reliable about the cathedral fire of 1542 

The ICOMOS reporter for Naumburg, Achim Hubel, however, insists on the opposite in a press release: "Therefore I can prove - also in connection with other indications - that Bishop Philipp (von Wittelsbach) donated the Cranach altarpiece for the high altar of the east choir Has.

According to this, it is not possible that Mary was depicted on the lost central panel, but rather the couple of the princes of the apostles.

Furthermore, the Cranach grand pianos can only be historically verified in the east chancel.” According to the Naumburg Annals by Nicolaus Krottenschmidt of 1547, the west chancel was also so severely affected by the cathedral fire of 1532 that Cranach’s retable – “it would have actually stood on the high altar”, so Hubel – must also have been “seriously damaged”.

The credibility of the chronicler Krottenschmidt regarding the fire of 1532 and the alleged end of the image of the Virgin Mary is quickly shaken: he was not even in Naumburg at the time of the fire.

This is already evident from the fact that numerous of the “beautiful panels”, which according to him were said to have been destroyed, have been preserved in the cathedral and cathedral treasury to this day.

Although the fire destroyed the roof structure of the cathedral, it was only able to penetrate the interior of the church through two openings in the vault, where limited sources of fire arose - evident, among other things, from the received invoices for repairing the fire damage from 1532 to 1535: the fire damage to the donor figures and architectural elements end to the east of the two pairs of figures, Hermann–Reglindis and Ekkehard–Uta, so they did not relate to the altar.