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Romanesque in Alsace
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former monastery church St. Arbogast

The monastery of Surbourg was founded in the 6th century during the Merovingian period. In the 11th century the relics of the founder Saint Arbogast were kept here. The former abbey church is the first church in Alsace with a cruciform ground plan. The nave and the transept are the same height and width. There is also an early example of the Rhenish change of columns. The columns bear simple cube capitals. From the original building from the last third of the 11th century, the three-nave nave, the transept, the crossing tower and the apsidioles are still preserved.

Surbourg Sankt Arbogast

Surbourg Saint Arbogast, interior view

Arbogast, born in Ireland as Arascach, according to other tradition coming from southern France, came to Alsace around 550 as a missionary.

According to legend, he settled in the forest of Hagenau and one day brought back to life the son of King Scrooge II, who had been killed by a boar. Arbogast was appointed bishop of Strasbourg.

Older legends let Arbogast walk across a river without getting his feet wet, heal the sick, expel demons and settle disputes. He had himself buried under a gallows to honour an innocently executed man.

As Bishop of Strasbourg, Arbogast was very blessed, had churches and monasteries built and made the city flourish. Arbogast is considered the main founder of Christianity in Alsace. Already during his lifetime he was highly revered.

Some sources state the year 678 as the date of his death, which is contradicted by archaeological finds.

A monastery of his name stood later before the gates of Strasbourg. According to further legends, Arbogast first lived with Götzis in Vorarlberg in Austria as a hermit; there he is venerated in the pilgrimage church St. Arbogast.


The relief at the entrance:
shows Arbogast, King Scrooge and his son.

gate roman column

Outside, above the side entrance door, there is a Carolingian stone with flower ornaments above the front side entrance. At the main entrance a part of a Roman Jupiter column is walled in, above it an early Gothic mass. The column fragment is decorated with a scale pattern.
In Oberwinterthur there is also a Romanesque church dedicated to St. Arbogast.

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Romanesque in Alsace

Way of St James from Surbourg to Haguenau