Pfarrkirche St. Maria Himmelfahrt (Parish church of St. Mary Assumption)
For centuries, the church on the Kirchberg has been the centre of faith and testimony of the local people through many generations. On Herxheim's "holy mountain" it impressively and majestically embodies the long Christian tradition of the village and presents itself as the spiritual and optical centre and point of orientation of the village.
It cannot be ruled out that the first Herxheim village church had its origin in the court church or own church of a landlord. According to an official church announcement, the first or second parish church was built on the Kirchberg, where a Franconian village church probably stood on the same site. The medieval church in the Romanesque architectural style stood not like its successor in the eastern, but in the southern direction. The lower part of the present tower, whose ground floor served as a choir room, still originates from this church. The one-bay cross ribbed vault from that time with the end stone bearing the symbol of the Lamb of God is still well preserved. The stump of the existing tower of the present church is the oldest building in Herxheim.
The first documented mention of a church in Herxheim was in 1213 by Bishop Konrad III of Scharfenberg. However, new research results indicate that a church probably existed in the village mentioned in 773 even before the village came under episcopal rule. Since the Weissenburg Monastery had an important seat in Herxheim, it is doubtful that Herxheim was indeed without a church before the church was first mentioned in a document. The Weissenburg estate of Herxheim had come into the hands of the imperial family of the Salians as a result of the "Weissenburg Monastery Robbery" in 985/91, who in 1057 - some 70 years later - gave it to the episcopal church in Speyer, the Hochstift Speyer, by Emperor Heinrich IV. Thus the bishop of Speyer became the local lord of Herxheim. This secular and spiritual rule lasted until the French Revolution.
The church, which was built in 1507 in late medieval architectural style in the eastern direction with two side chapels, is probably the third church in Herxheim. The choir, the sacristy and the substructure of the tower from 1004, which originates from the front church, still stand from this church. In the Thirty Years' War the nave with the side chapels and the tower were destroyed down to their stump. In 1585 the tower was provided with an octagonal section containing the belfry. The sound windows on it also date from that year. In 1952 they were enlarged vertically.
New Construction of the Nave
Today's hall-like nave was built in 1776/77 in the simple, late baroque style in place of the late gothic nave and side chapels, with connections to the late gothic choir and sacristy from 1507 and the tower. The previous church room had become too small for the rapidly growing population.
With the installation of a Gothic portal on the south side of the tower in 1788, access to the tower from the outside was established. In the course of a redesign of the tower in 1833/34 the belfry was raised. The bells and the tower clock were raised for better perception. The tower was given a lantern like finish. In 1860 the access to the gallery was moved from the inside to the outside by a staircase extension to the western gable front of the church. The last significant external shape of the church was achieved in 1968 with the renewed redesign of the tower helmet. The previous tower height of 36 m has increased to 56 m with the pointed Gothic tower helmet.
Obere Hauptstraße 2