Old Cathedral in a New Light


Report by NDR Fernsehen shows the reconstruction of the episcopal church

Hildesheim (bph) The journalists and cameramen of the North German Broadcasting Corporation (NDR) have become a familiar sight on the construction site at Hildesheim Cathedral. Since the renovation of the cathedral began in January 2010, they have followed the transformation of the episcopal church with their cameras. The first results of their work will be shown on Sunday 9th December at 11.50 a.m. on the NDR channel (N3). “Old Cathedral in a New Light. The renovation of the World Heritage Site Hildesheim Cathedral,” is the title of the half-hour programme.

NDR-Fernsehen mit Weihbischof Koitz

NDR writer Angela Sonntag (centre)
interviews auxiliary bishop Hans-Georg Koitz
on the cathedral building site in June 2010
Foto: bph

Hildesheim Cathedral is currently the largest church renovation project in Germany. In January 2010, the World Heritage site closed its doors in order to undertake extensive construction work. The restoration work on the partly dilapidated church building is expected to take four and a half years. It is estimated that on 15th August 2014 – Assumption of Mary, the patron saint of the cathedral – the church will be re-opened, just in time for the 1200th anniversary of the diocese in 2015.

In addition to architects and construction workers, archaeologists and art historians have also been involved in the restoration of the cathedral, and, of course, the auxiliary bishop emeritus Hans-Georg Koitz. As dean of the cathedral, he supervises every part of the building project with a great level of attention and involvement. He found it hard to say goodbye to the old cathedral, having held services there for nearly 20 years as auxiliary bishop.

The NDR film accompanies Koitz over the course of the first half of the renovation period. These were the hardest years as diggers, sledgehammers and jackhammers were used to completely gut the interior of the cathedral. Archaeologists dug deep into the church’s interior and made a number of exciting discoveries about the cathedral’s history. Now, at the halfway point in the cathedral’s renovation, we turn to look ahead towards the redevelopment and completion of the interior. Auxiliary bishop Koitz looks forward to the future with great anticipation: the cathedral can already be seen in a new light.

NDR writer Angela Sonntag has been in Hildesheim over 20 times with various camera teams since the closure of the cathedral and has filmed more than 40 hours’ worth of material there. There was no stage of the building work not to fall under the NDR spotlight! In addition to the auxiliary bishop, she also got Professor Dr. Michael Brandt, the manager of the cathedral museum, diocese curator Professor Dr. Karl Bernhard Kruse and many others to step in front of the camera. The result is a show which presents the interim state of the cathedral restoration work – a show with plenty of blood, sweat and tears. “I found filming very moving,” confesses Angela Sonntag, and says she hopes that her film will be able to help raise people’s awareness of this “treasure on their doorstep”.

Angela Sonntag will also be there during the next few months as the interior of the cathedral gradually begins to regain its face and when the organ and altar are eventually reinstalled. Another episode of the documentary is planned for the completion of the restoration work.

Top tip:
Documentary, “Old Cathedral in a New Light. The renovation of the World Heritage Site Hildesheim Cathedral”
NDR, Sunday, 9th December 2012, 11.50 a.m. - 12.20 p.m. (VPS 11:50)