former abbey church Sainte Richardis
Richardis was the daughter of the Alsatian Count Erchanger. "Richardis" is Old High German and means "bold ruler". In 862 she married Emperor Charles the Fat, a great-grandson of Charlemagne, and was crowned Empress in Rome in 881. Accused of adultery by the opponents of the overthrown chancellor Luitward of Verona in 887 for no reason, she underwent a trial by fire. Nevertheless rejected by her husband, she then withdrew to the monastery she had founded in today's Andlau; a bear is said to have shown her the place for the foundation of the monastery. This place with the scratch marks can still be admired today in the crypt!
As abbess, Richardis was directly dependent on the papal curia and had remarkable privileges. She was also Princess of the Holy Roman Empire. The town built around the abbey was given as a fief to the influential Alsatian family "Andlau", who built a castle there and gave the town its name. Later the " Andlauer " inherited the castle " Spesburg ".
Richardis was canonized in 1049 by Pope Leo IX. Their high grave, built in 1350, is still a destination for pilgrimages today.
The first church was destroyed in 1160 by a conflagration. The transept and the choir originate from the reconstruction. In the 15th century Sophie von Andlau had the façade and towers renovated. In the 17th century the church was given its present form. Of the original church, only the western front and the crypt have survived.
Detail from the western front. A farmer hunts with his dog the fox that stole the goose.
In the tympanum above the Romanesque portal, Christ is depicted handing over a key to Peter and a book to Paul. The group of people is framed by hunting scenes. It is believed to be a faithful replica of the same group in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome, which disappeared during the Renaissance.
Below the bear in the crypt are the scratch marks.
In the church there is this statue of Saint Richardis, the founder of the abbey, with her bear
and her high grave in the choir room.