Liebfrauenkirche is located in Solingen, a town in the “Bergische Land” in Nordrhein-Westfalen known as the “City of Blades”.
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Visiting Solingen Liebfrauenkirche
The Liebfrauenkirche in the Löhdorf district of Solingen is a modern church, and of course has little in common with the mostly medieval churches on this website – apart from the round tower. And in general I am rather sceptical about modern churches, especially if they are built in the 1960s/70s in the style of Brutalism. This is not the case with the Liebfrauenkirche, but the first impression from the outside is not necessarily that you are standing in front of a church.
But as soon as you enter the atrium, it becomes clear that a coherent idea was followed in the construction: it was obviously modelled on an old Italian monastery with a campanile and an atrium – probably after models from Venice or Ravenna! And inside, one experiences numerous positive surprises.
But first, the history of the church and the parish: due to the increasing population, new parishes were separated from the original parish of Ohligs at the end of the 19th century. Since the turn of the century, the Ohligs parish priest and the Catholic Neu-Löhdorf parishioners tried to establish a rectorate (a non-independent parish). On 30 July 1910, the foundation stone was laid for the first church of St. Mary’s Conception (the predecessor of today’s Liebfrauenkirche) in Löhdorf; the church was consecrated on 20 August 1911. In 1931, the rectorate of Löhdorf was finally elevated to an independent rectorate parish.
Since the first church had been damaged by the Second World War, the buildings were increasingly suffering from damp and the number of worshippers had continued to increase, it was decided to build a new church (church, rectory, youth centre and flats), the planning for which began in 1958. Benediction and the first Holy Mass were celebrated on Christmas Eve 1960, although the consecration did not take place until 1978. The new building was used to rename the church “Liebfrauenkirche” (Church of Our Lady), as there had previously been three churches in Solingen with the previous name “St. Mary’s Conception”. The foundation stones for both churches are still preserved today on the wall behind the altar (see slide show).
As already mentioned, the complex was built on the model of a medieval Italian monastery. The freestanding round campanile is about 30 metres high, the church 40 metres long and 11 metres high to the beam ceiling. The left side wall is divided by 115 window slits, which lets a very beautiful soft light into the church.
Inside the atrium, one enters the church through a glass front in the south wall. The entrance corridor is already the first thing worth seeing in the church: on the left wall there are statues of the four evangelists, on the right wall a very unusual crucifix. Through a door on the right directly behind the entrance, one can also enter the side chapels directly, but we continue through the main entrance and see an icon of Mary with the Child on the left wall, in front of it sacrificial candles. On the west wall is the large organ from 1994 located; the view now goes into the open and large nave towards the east/altar. On the above-mentioned main wall with the 115 slits, 13 windows with Stations of the Cross can be seen in the lower row, created by the artist Willy Schürmann 1961-62.
On the south wall of the nave are three large openings leading into the three side chapels. From west to east, the chapels contain:
The stone baptismal font, a statue of Christ and the Easter candle
A statue of the Virgin Mary with more sacrificial candles as well as the traditional confessional
A wooden statue (it is not clear who it represents) with even more sacrificial candles
There are further windows in all three side chapels on the south wall; these, like the three windows (which thematically continue the Stations of the Cross) in the antechamber adjoining the aisles to the south of the altar, into which the sacristy also leads, were also created by Willy Schürmann in 1976.
A wooden Madonna from 1982 hovers above the altar; unfortunately, I was unable to gather any further information about the church and its furnishings. But visiting it is a real pleasure, and the opening hours are relatively visitor-friendly.