• Hochaltar Ältester Flügelaltar der Kunstgeschichte

Tour through the Minster

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1. The main altar

1. The main altar

It was created around 1300 as an enclosed altar by unknown artists. It is not only the oldest wing altar in Germany, but also the oldest in art history. The upper and middle sections date back to that time. The upper row depicts stories from the New Testament which match the depictions of the Old Testament in the middle row. The New Testament is represented on the left wing depicting the joy of Mary and on the right wing the suffering of Mary. 

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2a. The Tabernacle

2a. The Tabernacle

It was built between 1350 - 1360 in the form of an enormous Gothic style monstrance, probably by the same carver who made the lower row of the main altar. The 11.60 metre high carving is made of oak and is the oldest tabernacle of its kind in Germany. 

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2b. The chalice cupboard

2b. The chalice cupboard

The chalice cupboard, to the left of the tabernacle, is an exceptionally unique showpiece, created around 1310. There was room inside for 20 sets of utensils for celebrating mass (chalices, plates, jugs, spoons), probably for the 2 main and 18 side altars of the abbey church. Brick residue on the sidewalls show that the cupboard was originally built into a wall.  

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3a. The credenza 

3a. The credenza 

To the left is a credenza (around 1300). It is part of the original furnishings of the Gothic Minster and was carved from oak wood, like most of the other medieval wooden artifacts of the minster. It served for the preparation of liturgical utensils used when celebrating the Eucharist at the main altar. 

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3b. The Levite pews

3b. The Levite pews

The lower parts of the Levite pews originate from the 14th century. The canopy is a reconstruction from the 19th century. The Levites’ seating, a pew for three, was the place for the monk, the deacon and sub deacon celebrating mass.

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4a. The eagle lectern 

4a. The eagle lectern 

The eagle lectern in front of the main altar was made of copper in the 19th century by the copper smith Steusloff from Doberan as an imitation of a lectern originally found in the cathedral of Hildesheim. The eagle is the symbol of Christ and faith being victorious over evil. It was restored in 2002. 

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4b. Ornamental candle holder

4b. Ornamental candle holder

Above it hangs an ornamental candle holder prominently showing the statue of Mother Mary in the late Roman - early Gothic style from the time of 1280. This figure stood from 1300 onwards as the central statue in the middle section of the main altar. Around 1400 it was integrated into the newly created candle holder. 

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5a. Choir stalls

5a. Choir stalls

Although nearly 700 years old, the rows of choir stalls have been preserved in excellent condition. These were built during the period from 1300-1370 and they were used by the monks for holding their seven daily prayer services. The stalls were originally placed a few metres eastwards towards the main altar. 

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5b. The pew ends

5b. The pew ends

Of special interest are some very unique carvings on the pew ends: the pelican style pew end with the vine, ivy and the eagle. Near the lectern are pew ends with carved lilies and monks (1310). The latter ones show, in the upper part, the annunciation of Mary and, in the lower part, St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order and the author of the rules of monastic life as well as St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the spiritual father of the Cistercian Order.

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5c. The pulpit

5c. The pulpit

The pulpit in the nave was skilfully integrated into the interior in 1868 by Tobias Weiß from Munich. It shows the four evangelists, scenes with Moses pre­aching the law, the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus sending his disciples into the world.

6a. Double sided cross altar

6a. Double sided cross altar

The double sided cross altar and the Lettnerwand, taller than a human, divided the monks`choir pews in the eastern part from the lay brothers’ seating in the western part. The altar was probably created under the supervision of a Bohemian or south German master builder, with the help of north German master Bertram von Minden. The time of creation is dated 1360 - 1370.

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6b. The paintings on Mary’s side of the cross altar

6b. The paintings on Mary’s side of the cross altar

The paintings on Mary’s side of the cross altar: from the left: annunciation of Mary (Luke 1, 26-38), the signs to Gideon (Judges 6,36-40), birth of Christ (Luke 2,6-16), Moses and the burning bush (2. Moses 3,1-8), presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2,22-35), presentation of Samuel in the temple (1. Samuel 1,24-28), escape to Egypt (Matthew 2,13-15). On the cross from the bottom to top: Striking the rock with Moses and Aaron (4. Moses 20,1-13), Evangelist Matthew (angel), spies with grapes (4. Moses 13,17-33), Judith and Holofernes (Judith 13), Mary with Jesus (central picture), Esther in front of Ahasuerus (Esther 5,1-8), Evangelist John (eagle), crowning of Mary (without biblical background). To the left: the sprouting rod of Aaron (4. Moses 17,8-9), Evangelist Mark (lion). To the right: Evangelist Luke (Taurus), the closed gate to the sanctuary (Ezekiel 44,1-3). 

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7a. Pieces of medieval glass

7a. Pieces of medieval glass

In the upper window valuable pieces of medieval glass (1300) were joined together during the 19th century to show images of Mother Mary and John the Evangelist. 

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7b. Chapel of the von Oertzen family

7b. Chapel of the von Oertzen family

Originally the chapel of the von Oertzen family was located beneath the window. The only things remaining from it are the chapel window sponsored by the von Oertzen family. 

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7c. Schrift-Epitaphien aus der 1. Hälfte des 16. Jh.

7c. Schrift-Epitaphien aus der 1. Hälfte des 16. Jh.

Several steps further to the right in the southern side aisle 11 large and 5 small mostly wooden epitaphs (first half of 16th century, restored in 2005) are displayed on the wall. 

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8a. The tree of life

8a. The tree of life

The cross is shown as the tree of life - true to the words of Christ: “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5). The portrayal of Christ as the life-giving and triumphant tree, conquering Satan, is one of the most important symbols of medieval Christianity. 

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8b. Vine leaves

8b. Vine leaves

The vine leaves on the cross were restored 1982 using a medieval type mixture of colours. The leaves, which are carved of oak, were dusted with a layer of chalk then covered with a thin layer of metal and coated in oil mixed with patina. 

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8c. The symbolic pictures on the side of Christ.

8c. The symbolic pictures on the side of Christ.

To the left of the altar are: Christ on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26,36-46), Elijah at Mount Carmel (2. Kings 1), Christ in front of Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27,24-26), the Scourging of Jesus (Matthew 27,26-30), the story of Job (Job 2,1-10), Jesus carrying the cross (Matthew 27,31+32), the Fall of Man (1. Moses 3,1-5). On the cross from bottom to top: 

Abraham offering Isaac (1. Moses 22,9-14), Jacob fighting the angel and the stairway to heaven (1. Moses 32,23-33 + 28,11-22), Samson and the city gates of Gaza (Judges 16,1-3), Abel and Melchisedek (1. Moses 4,4 + 14,18-24), Christ on the cross (centre picture), the striking of the rock (2. Moses 17,1-7), Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1. Kings 17,10-24), marking the servant of God with the seal (Revelation 7), to the left: the iron serpent, to the right: David kills Goliath (1. Samuel 17, 4 (38-51) 58). In the half round areas on the cross arms are heads of prophets.

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8d. The chalice shaped baptismal font

8d. The chalice shaped baptismal font

The chalice shaped Romanesque baptismal font from the 13th century, is made from limestone and was brought in from the isle of Gotland. It was originally part of the interior of the Church of St. Mary’s in Wismar.  

8e. Pews of the lay brothers

8e. Pews of the lay brothers

up to the former Lettnerwand and the cross altar was, as in all Cistercians abbeys, the room for the church services of the lay brothers. 

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9. Pews for the dukes

9. Pews for the dukes

The western window from the 19th century is the largest window of the Minster and was restored in 1996. Parts of the medieval pews were used when re-doing the pews for the dukes (19th century). They were placed between the southern rows of the monks and the lay brothers’ pews, diagonally across from the pulpit.

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10a. The western part of the Minster 

10a. The western part of the Minster 

up to the former Lettnerwand and the cross altar was, as in all Cistercians abbeys, the room for the church services of the lay brothers. 

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10b. Face of the astronomical clock

10b. Face of the astronomical clock

Above the western entrance is the face of the astronomical clock, which was destroyed during the 30 year war. It was built in 1390 by Nicolaus Lilienfeld according to the belief of a geocentric universe. 

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11a. The granite sarcophagus

11a. The granite sarcophagus

of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. von Mecklenburg (died 1837) took 16 years to finish and was put in front of the high altar in 1843. It was moved to its present place in the western part of the Minster in 1976. 

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11b. Medieval tomb stones and pictures

11b. Medieval tomb stones and pictures

In the side aisle, valuable medieval tomb stones of abbots have been arranged as a new display in 2004 and 2005. These tomb stones were originally located in the crossing. After the reformation they were moved and set into the church floor.

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11c. Pictures of the Dukes

11c. Pictures of the Dukes

Above the tomb stones in the north aisle are the pictures of Dukes and Duchess 

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12a. Pieces of medieval glass and stone tablets

12a. Pieces of medieval glass and stone tablets

Valuable pieces of medieval glass (1300) were used in the restoration process. The abbey started operating two glassworks in the 13th century. 

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12b. Stone tablets commemorating the victims of war and violence

12b. Stone tablets commemorating the victims of war and violence

Beneath the windows are stone tablets commemorating the victims of war and violence. The church community added the two outermost plates in 1985, 40 years after the ending of World War II. They name some places of murder and cruelty and admonish us to keep peace and justice.

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13a. The von Bülow Chapel 

13a. The von Bülow Chapel 

The von Bülow Chapel (Room of silence) was named after the family von Bülow. For three quarters of a century the bishops of Schwerin came from this family. The interior frescos were painted in 1873 since most of the medieval frescos were lost. Depicted are bishops, several family members and, on the eastern wall, the crucified Christ with John and Mary as well as Saint Thomas of Canterbury and Knight Olav. 

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13b. Tomb stone of Magister Hermann Kruse

13b. Tomb stone of Magister Hermann Kruse

In front of the chapel is the tomb stone of Magister Hermann Kruse (died 1599), the first Lutheran pastor taking office in 1564. Magister Kruse is shown carrying a layman’s chalice which was in accordance with the reformatory convictions of that time. This depiction of the chalice is a statement of evangelical teaching meaning that the Lutheran belief is the proper religion. Tomb stone restored 2007.  

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13c. The organ

13c. The organ

The organ, built in 1980 by the organ builder Schuke from Potsdam, is above the von Bülow Chapel. The first organ was installed in the Minster around 1600, the second organ was built and installed by the organ builder Friese from Schwerin. Today’s organ has 3220 pipes, 44 registers and three manuals. 

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14a. The Chapel of Pribislav 

14a. The Chapel of Pribislav 

The Chapel was the burial place and chapel of the House von Mecklenburg since 1302. It was named after Duke Pribislav, founder of the abbey, who died in 1178 in Lüneburg. His remains were transferred to Doberan in 1219. 

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14b. Paintings on the central column 

14b. Paintings on the central column 

The colourful tile paintings on the central column in the northern transept (a similar one is in the southern transept), were created in the 14th century based on oriental designs. The central column, the arches in the crossing, the rafters beneath the vaulted ceilings and the side columns stabilise the church building which was built in a swampy area.  

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14c. A partially window

14c. A partially window

In the eastern wall a partially medieval window, dated to the 16th century, shows Mary with Jesus as a child, God the father and the Evangelist John.

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14d. Late-Gothic cross from Lübeck

14d. Late-Gothic cross from Lübeck

In front of the eastern window in the Pribislav-Chapel there is a late-Gothic cross (1480) from Lübeck and two cupboards (14th century). It is assumed that the cross was originally located in the inner yard of the abbey. 

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14e. Renaissance script epitaph

14e. Renaissance script epitaph

In front of the altar is the tomb stone of the first Lutheran bishop and administrator of Mecklenburg, Magnus III (died 1550). He was a friend of Philipp Melanchtons. Furthermore there is the tomb stone of Duchess Ursula, the mother of Magnus III. Set into the northern wall is a renaissance script epitaph (picture), in Latin and German, for Magnus III with the Duke’s coat of arms. 

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14f. Crest window

14f. Crest window

The crest window was donated in 1852 by Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II. In 2005 it was restored after about 30 years of interim storage at this new location on Pribislavkapelle installed.

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14g. The painting of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. 

14g. The painting of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. 

Beneath the organ gallery you can see the painting of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. von Mecklenburg, the founder of the first German seaside health resort in Heiligendamm in the year 1793. 

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14g. The painting of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. 

14g. The painting of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. 

Beneath the organ gallery you can see the painting of Great Duke Friedrich Franz I. von Mecklenburg, the founder of the first German seaside health resort in Heiligendamm in the year 1793. 

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 14i. Tomb stone of Duchess Anna von Mecklenburg 

 14i. Tomb stone of Duchess Anna von Mecklenburg 

Tomb stone of Duchess Anna von Mecklenburg (died 1464), the daughter of Heinrich IV von Mecklenburg and sister of Magnus II.

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15a. The “Mill Altar”

15a. The “Mill Altar”

The four evangelists pour the word of God into the mill funnel, the mill in cross form represents Jesus Christ and shows the place of transformation, the 12 apostles power the mill and the four church fathers catch the trans-substantiated nourishment in a chalice and pass it on to the believers. On the side section, scenes from the life of St. Martin are portrayed. 

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15b. Medieval obelisk

15b. Medieval obelisk

The wooden standing lantern (around 1300) on the left probably stood next to the tombs and to the right of it was a medieval obelisk. 

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15c. The scaled model 

15c. The scaled model 

Several of those buildings are still intact today e.g. the charnel house (1250) to the north of the Minster as well as the grain storage and the ruins of the trade building (1290) to the south of the abbey grounds. The abbey wall, 1400 metres long, remains nearly as it was in medieval times. 

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15d. Das Kompositretabel

15d. Das Kompositretabel

Im Jahr 2009 wurde im Nördlichen Chorumgang ein Kompositretabel (Altaraufbau) in dieser Form zusammen- und aufgestellt, dessen Teile aus unterschiedlichen Anlässen im Mittelalter und der Barockzeit entstanden sind. 

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15e. Tomb stone of Heinrich von der Lühe

15e. Tomb stone of Heinrich von der Lühe

The tomb stone of Heinrich von der Lühe was restored in 2004. It shows the inscription “In the year of Our Lord 1401, on the day of the martyr Vincentius, the good Heinrich von Lühe, a sincere friend of the abbey, died and is resting under this stone. May he rest in peace. Amen.”

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16a. Tomb of Lord Samuel von Behr and a swan and antlers  

16a. Tomb of Lord Samuel von Behr and a swan and antlers  

The tomb of Lord Samuel von Behr (died 1621) was built by Julius Döteber from Leipzig and the canopy was erected in 1626 by Cheer Evert Pilot. Samuel von Behr was chancellor, marshal, minister, manager and mentor of Duke Adolf Friedrich who had this memorial erected in gratitude to his mentor. 

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16b. swan and antlers 

16b. swan and antlers 

To the right of the chapel and opposite, the swan and antlers remind us of the abbey’s founding legend. 

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17a. Figure of Queen Margarete of Denmark and three altars 

The late-Romanesque, early-Gothic figure of Queen Margarete of Denmark (died 1282) carved from oak, is supposed to be the oldest tomb sculpture in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the oldest female sculpture of all Cistercian abbeys (see picture next page). 

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17b. The Corpus Christi Altar

17b. The Corpus Christi Altar

The Corpus Christi Altar with The Last Supper (1330 - see picture) shows one of the oldest tablet paintings in Mecklenburg. It is thought to have stood in the gate chapel at the western gate of the abbey, and is associated with the Doberan holy blood relics. 

The tablet is attributed to the second quarter of the 14th century. The left folding wing section was already missing around the year 1700.

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17c. The Altar of the Passion of Christ 

17c. The Altar of the Passion of Christ 

The Altar of the Passion of Christ from the 14th century with parts of a further side altar, is only partially preserved. 

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17d. Der Altar der Kreuzigung Christi durch die Tugenden

To the right, behind the tomb sculpture, the centre section of the altar of the crucifixion of Christ (1340) depicts seven women representing the seven virtues. 

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18. Tomb and crypt of Duke Adolf Friedrich I 

18. Tomb and crypt of Duke Adolf Friedrich I 

Tomb and crypt of Duke Adolf Friedrich I von Mecklenburg (died 1658) and wife Anna Maria von Ostfriesland (died 1634) was built by Julius Döteber from Leipzig and Daniel Weber from Rostock in the transitional style of renaissance to baroque in 1634. 

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19. The Octagon

19. The Octagon

 

The Octagon is an octagonal burial chapel for 13 dukes of Mecklenburg, built around 1370 using Romanesque columns and capitals from around 1240.

The location behind the high altar was a privileged burial place. Please note the ornamental carvings along the balustrade.

The wall paintings on the Octagon, restored in 2004, depict King Albrecht III of Sweden (died 1412), Duke Heinrich III (died 1383), Duke Johann IV (died 1422) as well as Duke Magnus I von Mecklenburg (died 1384).

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20a. Tomb of Duke Albrecht III, King of Sweden

20a. Tomb of Duke Albrecht III, King of Sweden

Tomb of Duke Albrecht III von Mecklenburg and King of Sweden (died 1412), buried in the octagon and his first wife Richardis von Schwerin (1377), buried in Stockholm, is an important example of Gothic burial art (see picture).  

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20b. Altar of the Glorious Virgin Mary

20b. Altar of the Glorious Virgin Mary

The altar of the Glorious Virgin Mary (15th century) is one of many side altars. After the reformation they were no longer used and were removed or fell into decay. Beneath the predella is a part of another medieval altar. 

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20c. Fürstenbild Herzog Ulrich III. von Güstrow

20c. Fürstenbild Herzog Ulrich III. von Güstrow

Further treasures in the chapel of King Albrecht III. are the pictures of Duke Ulrich III von Güstrow (died 1603) and Duchess Anna von Pommern (died 1626) painted 1587 by the Dutchman Cornelius Crommeny. 

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21. The memorial statue of Duke Magnus II 

21. The memorial statue of Duke Magnus II 

The memorial statue of Duke Magnus II von Mecklenburg (died 1503) is said to be the most complete form of an epitaph. 

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22a. Tomb of Duke Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg 

22a. Tomb of Duke Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg 

Tomb of Duke Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg (died 1920) and his wife Elisabeth von Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach (died 1908) was created in 1910 by the master builder Winter from Braunschweig.

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22b. Neogotische Farbfassung

22b. Neogotische Farbfassung

In the chapel, in contrast to the rest of the church, the restored neo-Gothic ceiling painting by Gotthilf Ludwig Möckel 1896-98 is preserved. 

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23a. The rear of the Levite pews 

23a. The rear of the Levite pews 

The lower parts of the Levite pews originate from the 14th century, the baldachin and the rear are a reconstruction of the 19th century. In the display cases, literature, postcards and souvenirs which can be bought at the cashiers booth. 

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23b. Tomb stone of Peter Wise 

23b. Tomb stone of Peter Wise 

On the southern wall you'll see the translation of the "Dedication Certificate" from 1368, the memorial tomb stone of Heinrich von der Weser and his wife (14th century), the memorial burial plate of Peter Wise (died 1338 - picture), a merchant from Lübeck and sponsor of the abbey. 

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23c. Picture and text plaque of Peter Wise 

23c. Picture and text plaque of Peter Wise 

Above the memorial burial plate of Peter Wise (died 1338), a merchant from Lübeck and sponsor of the abbey is the picture and text plaque of Peter Wise in German and Latin. It mentions three altar donations from Wise and shows him dressed in the fashion of the 14th century. 

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24. Renaissance style ducal epitaph

24. Renaissance style ducal epitaph

On the western wall is a Renaissance style ducal epitaph made of four separate marble plates. It was made in 1583 at the request of Duke Ulrich and his wife Elizabeth, Duchess of Mecklenburg, born Princess of Denmark. 

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