At the foot of Petersgraben in Basle,
which runs down to the Rhine from Petersplatz, is the Predigerkirche (Dominician
church), a long building with a graceful roof turret. of 1233.
The wall of the priory's churchyard plays a role in the history of 'The dance of Death', a series of wall-paintings about death.
After the epidemic of the plague in Germany in 1439-1440, Konrad Witz (1400/10-1445/46) painted this The Dance of Death on the wall of the churchyard of the Predigerkirche in Basel. His example was The Dance in the Cemetery des Innocents in Paris (1425), kept for us in not very accurate illustrations, printed by Guyot Marcant in Paris in 1586.
We know Witz' Dance, restored probably by Hans Kluber in 1568, by the copperplate engravings of Matthäeus Merian the Elder (22 September 1593 – 19 June 1650), a notable Swiss engraver and bookseller, published in 1621.
The paintings themselves were not maintained after the seventeenth century and the walls were torn down in 1805.
The Predigerkirche today.
It was during the First Vatican Council of 1870 that the Pope's jurisdictional primacy over the Catholic Church and his infallibility were proclaimed. A minority of Catholics protested so vehemently against the new dogmas that they were excommunicated. In response, they founded their own Church, the Christcatholics, which views itself a continuation of the Old Church of the first millennium. For this reason, Christcatholics are also known as Old Catholics. In Switzerland they constituted themselves in 1874 an independent diocese (the seat of the diocese is Berne). The Church has had a parish in the Canton of Basel-Stadt since the year 1877, centred on the Predigerkirche as Totentanz.
The Silbermann Pipe Organ.
In this church a famous pipe organ , built by Gottfried Silbermann (1683-1753), a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). They worked together as colleagues and friends, and shared an interest and advanced knowledge of acoustics as applied to the voicing and location of organs.
This results finally in the purchase of a Silbermann Pipe Organ in the Predigerkirche in Basel. Therefore in this church are many concerts of Bach's works.
Engraving of Basel (17th century) by Matthäeus Merian the Elder (1593-1650).
Switzerland 1995, Mi Bl 27, Sc B607.