Erfweiler-Ehlingen St Mauritius
St Mauritius-Kirche is located in Erfweiler-Ehlingen, a village in the Saarland.
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Visiting Erfweiler-Ehlingen St Mauritius
St Marcellus in Erfweiler-Ehlingen is one of the three Round Tower Churches in close proximity to each other in the Bliesgau, an area to the north of the Franco-German Border in the Saarland. I have been to this church on several occasions, one was in 2008 when I had organized a trip to the churches in the Saarland and Alsace-Lorraine for the Round Tower Churches Society. Unlike the other two churches in the region, it is usually locked, but on our last visit to this church, we met two ladies on the street along the church, one old, one even older, and asked them if they happened to know where we would be able to obtain a key to the church. It turned out that the elder one (I would guess she was about 90) had one, and kindly offered us to let us in. Well, at least I think that was what she said, because she had such a strong local dialect, that we did not understand a word she said (and I have lived in the Saarland for seven years!). But at least she seemed very friendly, and whenever she talked to us, we smiled and nodded kindly; I hope she did not ask a question where she would have expected another answer than “yes”…
About the history of the region and the church: the climatically favourable situation of the village of Erfweiler on the south-western slope of a basin probably was the determining factor for an early settlement here. In the 19th century, the parish priest Arnold Rütter discovered the remains of a Roman bath. In the late 1970s, a “Villa Rustica” was excavated, the largest to be found anywhere in the region.
While the first mentioning of the village goes back to 1223, a written document of the parish dates back to 1347. The current building integrates some elder parts, the oldest being the rectangular choir from the 14th century and the round tower from the 12th or 13th century that is affixed to the eastern side of the joint of nave and choir (see church layout in the slideshow). The round tower built of quarrystone has a height of 11,80 m to the edge of the roof, and like St. Margaretha of Bebelsheim, it is crowned by an octagonal, tapered helm roof, dating back to the year 1614. Unlike the tower in Bebelsheim, it narrows nearly a meter from base (5,80 m) to the edge of the roof (4,85 m), while the inner diameter widens from 2,80 m at the base to 3,35 m at the top. This means of course that the thickness of the walls diminishes from base to top (see cross section of the tower in the slideshow).
Two doors are located in the ground floor, one opening to the churchyard in a north-eastern direction, one into the choir in a western direction. The door opening which links the tower with the choir seems to be the original one, while the one leading to the outside was added at a later time. Loopholes in the middle floor of the tower seem to underline the original purpose of the tower, namely defence.
Major works on the church took place in 1614 and 1824, when the original building became too small for an increasing number of inhabitants of the village, while the church got its final form as it is today in the neo-gothic style in 1904.