The plague, an acute infectious disease usually transmitted to humans by rat fleas, was usually faced by the affected population powerlessly. As late as the beginning of the 17. At the beginning of the twentieth century, thousands died of this disease in the Rhineland; in Viersen alone, the number of deaths is said to have been 2000 within 2 years. Since medical knowledge was insufficient, the cause of the plague was seen in the alleged corruption of the air by ominous constellations of stars or in well poisoning. People sought help in their distress in faith. Saint Rochus, who, according to tradition, was infected by the disease but miraculously recovered, and Saint Sebastian, who was killed with arrows and therefore seemed to be able to kill the "plague arrows", were venerated as special saints of the plague to ward off the contagion. In Viersen, all priests died of the plague, so help was requested from the monastery in Sonsbeck. Two of the three priests sent also succumbed to the disease, the third fell ill but survived, as did the priests of the Minorite monastery in Venlo who have now been seconded to provide pastoral care. In gratitude for the "liberation from the terrible disease stopped in the year 1620, on the Monday after St. Remigius (1. October), the three clergymen and the congregation held a solemn procession in front of the house on Neumarkt (today Gereonsplatz) where the last plague sufferer had died. They erected a cross and made a vow to renew this thanksgiving procession on this day every year.
In the French period from 1798 to 1815, this procession was banned and the cross was temporarily removed. In 1857, the rotten wooden cross was replaced by a new stone neo-Gothic cross designed by the Cologne Cathedral master builder Vincenz Statz, at a cost of 500 thalers. Beginning of the 20. At the end of the nineteenth century it was provided with a new bronze corpus. Since the house where the original cross stood was demolished for traffic reasons, it stands freely on widened sidewalk.
The 6.50 m high cross stands on a two-tiered pedestal. The lower cross structure finishes with a sloping cornice that supports a smaller console on the display side. The central structure is designed on each side in the form of a crab-studded eyelash with a three-pass arch. A wreath of crucifers leads to the crowning cross with the bronze corpus of Christ. The cross beams are polygonal.
The following Bible verse is found as an inscription on the front of the cross:
For the sake of our sins he was wounded. Isaiah 53,5.
The corpus shows the typical depiction of the suffering Christ since the Middle Ages. On the plague cross the wounds of the flagellation become a symbol for the plague bumps of the sick people. Its depiction becomes a reflection of the mental distress of the people at that time.
Vincenz Statz, 1819-1898, member of the Cologne cathedral building lodge, was an important architect of the Rhineland in the 19. Century. As a neo-Gothic architect, he made a special name for himself in church building, primarily in the diocese of Cologne. In the town of Viersen, a church was built according to the plans of the "master builder Vincenz Statz from Cologne, who was highly recommended for church buildings" on 22.03.1855 the foundation stone for the extension of the church St. Clemens laid in Suchteln. From 1855 to 1858, the later parish church of St. Peter was built according to his design, initially as a chapel. Mary Help of Christians in Suchteln-Dornbusch was built. From 1864 to 1866, the nave of the Viersen parish church of St. Remigius was rebuilt. Remigius repaired according to his plans.
For scientific, especially folkloristic, local and religious historical reasons, the preservation and use of the Plague Cross is in the public interest according to § 2 (1) of the Monument Protection Law.
File Plague Cross Gereonsplatz FB 80/I Lower Monument Authority of the City of Viersen
Carl-Wilhelm Clasen: "Viersen" in: Rudolf Wesenberg/Albert Verbeek (eds.): "The monuments of the Rhineland" Dusseldorf 1964, page 42 Paul Dickmann: "Geschichte der Pfarre St. Joseph and the daughter parish of St. St. Mary's from 1879-1963, Viersen 1967 F.W. Lohmann: "History of the town of Viersen", Viersen 1913, page 138 and 906 Agnes Neef: "Die Kreuze am Neumarkt" (The Crosses at Neumarkt) in "The homeland, Jg.