The history of Heiligenzell’s Schlössle, its Little Palace, began on the site of the present palace chapel.
In around 1313, the abbey cellarer, a monk called Berthold von Uttenheim, endowed a chapel and had it consecrated to St. George. Its medieval apse was discovered beneath the present day chapel during construction work in the 1980s.
The Freihof, the tax-exempt farm that supplied the abbey with agricultural produce, grew up around the little church. But once a year, on the 23rd of April, St. George’s day, the chapel became a hive of activity. The abbot, the brothers, and a crowd of people walked from Schuttern Abbey to Heiligenzell, a distance of almost six kilometres or three miles. There, they celebrated mass in honour of St. George – and then had a big party, with dancing and drunken revelry.
These days, anything to do with the chapel is rather more sedate. The local Protestant congregation holds its services there, and it welcomes performers and artists with concerts and exhibitions. Since 1990, the chapel even has an organ, built by Orgelbau Vier, a family business based in Friesenheim.
All depictions: © Josef Sailer