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Bei der Marienkirche

Drei Rebhühner

Three Partridges


Mühlhausen /  Drei Rebhühner   Mühlhausen /  Drei Rebhühner


At the northeast corner of St. Mary's Church are three small stone sculptures of partridges, two on the first buttress, and one on the pinnacle of the second buttress. They refer to a legend, of which exist two versions, one Roman Catholic, the other Lutheran: On the sign near the church the Catholic version is told (German text below):

One day several stonemasons sat in the inn "Zum goldenen Löwen" (Obermarkt 18) and had a peaceful breakfast. The construction of the church progressed slowly, because once again the construction fund was empty. Nobody knew how to proceed. Yes, small-minded people even doubted the completion of the church. Many citizens were very depressed about it. Among the doubters was also the landlady, who was persuaded in the conversation with the journeymen to the words: "As unlikely it is that the partridges here in my pan will get to life again and fly away, so unlikely it is that the construction of the church will be completed." But no sooner had she uttered these words, the partridges whirred out of the pan and out of the kitchen window. They flew to the three buttresses on the northern side choir and were instantly turned to stone. There they are still sitting today.
The Lutheran version is in the Sagenbuch des Preußischen Staats by Johann Georg Theodor Grässe, 1868-71 (German text here):
Shortly after the beginning of the Reformation, which found very early many followers in Thuringia, two Catholic prelates sat in an inn in the city of Mühlhausen at a delicious meal and talked about the progress of heresy. One thought that it would be difficult to suppress the new doctrine completely, and the other became so angry that, pointing to the three partridges on the table, he exclaimed: "Just as unlikely it is that these three partridges, roasted on the spit in the kitchen, will come back to life again and fly away, it is unlikely that the heretic teaching of Luther will become powerful here in this city! " But behold, these prophetic words were scarcely said by the priest, when the roast in the bowl began to move and before their eyes the partridges rose, feathers grew again on their bodies and wings, and they fluttered upwards and flew out of the door. They hurried after them and saw them resting on a buttress of St. Mary's Church; Then they were suddenly turned to stone and are still sitting there as bearers of the legend, a visible miracle.
A third version is in Ludwig Bechstein's Thüringer Sagenbuch, you can read it here (in German).

Information Sign

Die Drei Rebhühner in Mühlhausen

Eines Tages saßen mehrere Steinmetzgesellen im Gasthaus "Zum goldenen
Löwen" (Obermarkt 18) und frühstückten in aller Ruhe. Der Bau der Kirche
schritt nun langsam voran, denn wieder einmal war die Baukasse leer. Keiner
wusste, wie es weitergehen sollte. Ja, kleingläubige Gemüter zweifelten so-
gar an der Vollendung des Gotteshauses. Viele Bürger waren darüber sehr
Zu den Zweiflern gehörte auch die Wirtin,die sich im Gespräch mit den
Gesellen zu den Worten hinreißen ließ: "So wenig die Rebhühner hier in
meiner Pfanne wieder Leben bekommen und davon fliegen können, so
wenig wird er Kirchbau jemals vollendet werden." Kaum aber hatte sie
diese Worte ausgesprochen, so schwirrten die Rebhühner aus der Pfanne
und zum Küchenfenster hinaus. Sie flogen auf die drei Strebepfeiler am
nördlichen Nebenchor und wurden augenblicklich in Stein verwandelt. Dort
sitzen sie noch heute.

Gestiftet von "Freunde Mühlhausen e.V.", Münster


Location (N 51°12'37" - E 10°27'19")

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Item Code: deth203; Photograph: 14 October 2018
Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
If you want to use photos, please contact us via the contact form (in Dutch, English or German).
© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt

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