Reformationsaltar für die Neupfarrkirche in Regensburg

Historisches Museum Regensburg


In the year of the Augsburg Peace of Religion of 1555, Michael Ostendorfer (1490-1559) completed his altar for the “Neupfarrkirche” (new parish church) in Ratisbon. The retable (altarpiece) was commissioned by the council of the city of Ratisbon for the Neupfarrkirche, which was supposed to serve from 1542 as parish church for the then newly-founded Lutheran community. It replaced the building, which from 1519 had been used as pilgrimage church to the “Schöne Maria” (Beautiful Madonna). Ostendorfer’s altar thematised the sacraments and placed the means to gain grace and the spiritual actions of Lutheranism opposite the traditions from Holy Bible. The altarpiece is painted on both sides and consists today of an almost square central panel and two high-rectangular side wings. The sending out of the apostles, which depicted on the inner side of the central panel, is to be interpreted as the mandate for the announcement of the true doctrine. Towards the right edge of the central panel, a clergyman takes the confession of a faithful parishioner. The confession was in the Lutheran church only replaced in the seventeenth century by the communal confession. Two further sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, are to be seen on the inner side wings. On the exterior, instead, the focus is on Christ as the son of God. When the altar was installed in the year of the Augsburg Peace of Religion, Ratisbon had already made its confessional decision, which was translated by Ostendorfer into appropriate images.