It seems odd to have a confessional in a Lutheran church, buth this piece of furniture is older than the church itself and originates from the time, when the old church was the only church here and used by both congregations, Lutheran AND Catholic for their services.
It is said that Friederike and Goethe where sitting together in this hidden place and listened to the sermon of her father, which was "never too long by her side."
The new church of 1911/12 is built asymmetrical with a gallery on the northern wall where people can sit as well. The paintings along the gallery are done by artists and students of professor Reinhardt from Munich.
When entering the church the aisle leads to the choir with a beautifully stained window in its back wall. On the south wall are three large windows also with stained glass (described separately).
The ceiling and the wooden beams follow the roofline and thus enlarge the inner space of the church. Inside it feels much larger compared to the outside image.
A large organ and a wooden pulpit complete the appearance of the church.
The town hall actually is a combined town hall and school. It is situated on place de la Mairie beside the Catholic church. The school area stretches out on the back side. It was built in 1954.
A large wall painting on the front side displays Sessenheim at the time when Goethe came to visit it in 1770 (as the artist imagines it). On the left you can see Friederike Brion sitting in the corn field. From the right Goethe is approaching her. His Alsatian friend Friedrich Leopold Weyland is still sitting on his horse. He was a friend of the family Brion too. In the back of the picture you can see the town with its dominating church tower.
This barn stands in the yard of the parish house (todays Lutheran parish.
At the time when Goethe came to Sessenheim in 1770 it was the house of the family Brion, the minister of the church.
It is said the Goethe helped in the house, as in October 1770 when he helped to store corn in the barn. Therefore the barn is called "Goethe barn". It can be seen on one of Goethe's own drawings (Link to Wikipedia).
It was restored in 1927 and 1958.
You would like to explore Sessenheim "in the footsteps of Goethe and Friederike Brion"?
The hiking association Club Vosgien has marked a route (see other picture). It is marked by a red circle and takes about 90 minutes for the 6 km.
It starts at the town's centre (No. 1) with the Lutheran church, parish priest's house and the Goethe Memorial, then continues to (No. 2) the tumulus (or Goethehügel or Friederikensruhe) and the Goethe-Eiche, an oak tree (No. 3).
When walking I suggest to read (or listen to) Goethe's "Dichtung und Wahrheit" ("Poetry and Truth") where he also describes his relationship to Friederike and Sessenheim.
The Gothe-Museum is a small private collection and part of the restaurant "Au Boeuf" giving you the once in a time chance of combining German and Alsatian culture with French cuisine.
As other people collect stamps the family has started decades ago to collect bits and pieces with a connection to Goethe.
The benches in the restaurant are originally from the old church that was taken down in 1911.
This tumulus consists of very old graves from prehistoric Celtic or Merovingian times.
This place is mentioned by Goethe in his autobiography "Dichtung und Wahrheit" ("Poetry and Truth") as the goal of numerous walks together with his love Friederike Brion during his stays in Sessenheim in the years 1770/71.
In 1880 the first arbour was erected in memory of the parish priest's daughter. The arbour of today is the fifth in this place.
Left and right of the entrance and below the gallery for the organ, two statues of the Holy Virgin and a stained glass window worshipping the immaculate conception are illuminated to focus the attention for prayers.
The glass windows shown here depict female saints and are located on the north-west wall of the church, starting from the choir in the following order
#5: Sta. Teresia and Sta. Johanna d'Arc
#6: Sta. Ricardis and Sta. Odilia
#7: Sta. Monica and Sta. Maria Magdalena
#8: Sta. Caecilia and Sta. Barbara
The glass windows shown here depict male saints and are located on the south-east wall of the church, starting from the choir in the following order
#1: St. Arbogastus and St. Florentius
#2: St. Aloisius and St. Joannes Bosco
#3: St. Ludovicus and St. Leo IX.
#4: St. Antonius and St. J.B.Vianney
The organ was installed by Martin and Joseph RINCKENBACH in 1912 the same year the church was built. Originally it had 14 registers. It is supposed that the 15th register was added in 1925 when the Rinckenbach brothers repaired the organ.
In the years 1930-40s the organ builder's house ROETHINGER is mentioned to have looked after the organ, followed in 1956 by the house SCHWENKEDEL and in 1992 by the house KOENIG.
The church built in 1912 consists of a simple nave with a flat wooden ceiling.
It has a splendid interior including a main altar and the two side altars, stained glass windows on both sides and in the choir, a large organ, a wooden chancel, a golden cross and statues of Maria Magdalena (almost all described separately).
The front room of the Goethe Memorial building in Rue Albert Fuchs No. 6 is dedicated to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). He was a student in Strasbourg from April 1770 to August 1771. During this time he visited many Alsatian towns together with his friend Friedrich Leopold Weyland and for the first time in August 1770 also Sessenheim where he met Friederike Brion, the daughter of the pastor. He fell deeply in love with her but finished the relationship a year later.
Centrally in the bust hall the bust of Goethe commemorates his connection with France. The bust itself was modelled by Pierre-Jean David d'Angers (1788-1856) in 1829. He sent it as a present to Goethe who welcomed it deeply moved as a sign of transnational human ties (during the times of rising nationalism). The bust exhibited here is a copy of the original.
Below the bust on the base are two quotes catching the eye. "Vous étes un homme" ("You are a man") was said by Napoleon when they met in Erfurt in 1808. "L'inépuisable est dans sa nature" ("Inexhaustible he is in its nature") was said by Paul Valery in 1932 at the Sorbonne during a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of Goethe's death.
The quotes left and right of the bust are Goethe's: "Und dein Streben sei's in Liebe und dein Leben sei die Tat" ("Let love guide thy strivin and let action be thy life") and "Alle menschlichen Gebrechen sühnet reine Menschlichkeit" ("All man's failings are redeemed by the pure essence of his humanity").
On the right wall the dates of Goethe's time in Alsace (2 April 1770 - 14 August 1771) is inscribed together with important people he met or whos ideas he heard about during his time as a student in Strasbourg: Herder, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Diderot.
On the left wall his love Friederike Brion (19 April 1752 - 2 April 1813) is immortalised together with a line by Goethe: "Sie hat mich geliebt schöner als ich's verdiente" ("Her love was finer than I deserved").
In the original building a André SILBERMANN organ from 1719 was installed. After repairs and modifications by Georg HLADKY in 1793 and STIEHR in 1826 the organ was dismantled in 1909 (to give space for the enlargement of the church) and brought to Strasbourg where it was installed in the Palais des Rohan.
In 1911 Eberhard Friedrich WALCKER installed a new organ in the enlarged new church building. In 1970 the organ builders MUHLEISEN from Strasbourg extended the organ once again.
Until 1912 the Lutheran and Catholic congregation used a common church building for their services. It was standing on the site of todays Lutheran church. But in 1912 two new church buildings where erected, a larger one for the Lutheran that replaced the old building.
On the site beside the town hall a separate church for Catholic parish was erected.