In the late 13th and early 14th centuries, trade guilds of the town of Freiburg im Breisgau funded a series of glorious stained-glass windows to line the nave of the Freiburg Münster, a cathedral founded around the year 1200. As a result, the products and tools of each guild feature prominently.
In the northwest corner, next to the rose window, is the legacy of the Brewers’ Guild. Jesus Christ looks down from the upper compartment of the window, with a chalice bearing three of the nails from his cross etched alongside. In the lower edges of the window, the guild’s symbols appear in the form of beer pitchers and a cup measure.
To the right is the offering of the Bakers’ Guild. The bottom of the window bears the guild’s coat of arms, featuring the pretzel, or as the Germans would call them, bretzels. At the top are representations of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as well as the Virgin Mary. The window also depicts a story from the legend of St. Catherine of Alexandria, a princess who converted to Christianity and was later martyred. One version of the saint’s story goes that Catherine, upon being ordered to renounce her faith by the Emperor’s delegate, offered instead such a spirited defense of it that she converted the monarchs’ own philosophers (whom he then proceeded to burn alive). The panels of the bakers’ guild windows also show Catherine’s conversion of the Roman emperor’s wife. The emperor ordered Catherine to be tortured on a spiked wheel, shattering it. Finally, the emperor ordered her to be beheaded.
Although some of the original windows suffered damage in the ensuing years, a restoration in the nineteenth century brought them back to their full splendor.
Know Before You Go
These aren’t the only gorgeous stained-glass offerings of the Freiburgian guilds. Should you have a chance to visit the Freiburg Münster, pay attention to the windows of the tailors’ guild with the representative scissors, or the shoemakers’ guild window, which bears a coat of arms featuring a boot.