Basilica of St. Ursula, Cologne

Church from the east
Interior of St. Ursula

The Basilica church of St. Ursula (German pronunciation: [ˌzaŋt ˈʔuʁˌzula], Colognian (Kölsch) pronunciation: [ˌtsɪnt ˈʔoʒəɫa]) is located in Cologne the Rhineland, Germany. It is built upon the ancient ruins of a Roman cemetery, where the 11,000 virgins associated with the legend of Saint Ursula are said to have been buried.[1] The church has an impressive reliquary created from the bones of the former occupants of the cemetery. It is one of the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne[2] and was designated a Minor Basilica on 25 June 1920. While the nave and crossing tower are Romanesque, the choir has been rebuilt in the Gothic style.

The Golden Chamber

One of the walls of bones in the Golden Chamber
A portion of the collection of skull relics in the Golden Chamber

The Golden Chamber, or Goldene Kammer, of the church contains the alleged remains of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins who are said to have been killed by the Huns, possibly around the time of the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains. The original legend said only 11 virgins accompanied St. Ursula but the number grew over time, eventually to 11,000. The walls of the Golden Chamber are covered in bones arranged in designs and/or letters along with relic skulls. The exact number of people whose remains are in the Golden Chamber remains ambiguous but the number of skulls in the reliquary is greater than 11 and less than 11,000. These remains were found in 1106 in a mass grave and were assumed to be those of the legend of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. Therefore, the church constructed the Golden Chamber to house the bones. The bones themselves are neatly arranged in "zigzags and swirls and even in the shapes of Latin words." [3]

See also


  1. Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 185.
  2. Sacred Destinations:, The Twelve Romanesque Churches of Cologne (accessed 2011-04-17)


External links

Media related to St. Ursula (Köln) at Wikimedia Commons

  1. REDIRECT [[Template:Twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne]

Coordinates: 50°56′45″N 6°57′16″E / 50.94583°N 6.95444°E / 50.94583; 6.95444

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