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Mural above the altar, c. 1330/40

Photo: © Dombauhütte Köln, Matz und Schenk

Unlike the preserved murals over the altars in the choir chapels of St John and St Agnes, the one in the Chapel of St Stephen does not depict the Crucifixion. Instead, the two scenes framed by gilded tracery architecture show the Stoning of St Stephen (left), the first patron saint of the chapel, and a scene from the life of St Gero, archbishop of Cologne (right), whose relics are contained in the tomb in the middle of the chapel. A narrow panel separating these two scenes is empty. From the erection of this tomb in 1270 until the mid-fourteenth century, this panel was hidden behind the monumental crucifix donated by Archbishop Gero, which now hangs over the altar in the Chapel of the Cross. The archbishop, who died in the year 976, had previously been buried at the centre of the old cathedral near the Altar of the Cross that stood in front of the Gero Crucifix. The link between the grave, the altar, and the cross was repeated here in the Chapel of St Stephen around 1270. The original mural, which was painted over by Wilhelm Batzem in the nineteenth century, recalls the fact that the Gero Crucifix hung over this altar at the time the mural was painted. Unfortunately, Batzem was unaware of this fact and painted the architectural decoration that framed the scenes and was missing from the original centre panel in the empty space.

Kulturstiftung Kölner Dom Das Generationenprojekt 11.000 Sterne für den Kölner Dom ZENTRAL-DOMBAU-VEREIN ZU KÖLN VON 1842 DOMKLOSTER 4