Rheinfelden, die Johanniterkapelle. Foto/Photo: TES

The Johanniter Order and their Chapel in Rheinfelden

25 November saw the publication of the new edition of the Swiss Art Guide series (Schweizerische Kunstführer), a publication of the Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte (GSK)/Sociéte d’histoire de l’art en Suisse (SHAS).

The beautifully illustrated edition highlights the Johanniter Chapel of the Johanniter Order in Rheinfelden (canton Aargau). The Johanniter Order was founded in the 11th century by knights to nurse sick and poor pilgrims to the Holy Land.

The Johanniterkommende 

The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, and in 1113, Pope Paschalis II (pope from 1099-1118) recognised this knightly order as a religious and military organisation. The Knights Templar (1118) and the Teutonic Order (1190) also date from this period. The Johanniter Order settled in Malta in 1530 and is now called the Maltese Order.

The Johanniter Order founded the monastery and a hospital around 1215, with the permission of the founder of Rheinfelden, Duke Berchtold V. (1160-1218. John the Baptist was naturally the patron saint. The St John’s Chapel was built in the years 1456-1460. Rheinfelden and the Fricktal remained Habsburg property and thus Catholic until 1798. Rheinfelden was part of canton Aargau from 1803. The canton decided to dissolve the monastery in 1806.

For a long time, the chapel was a storage place for goods, and it was not until the end of the 19th century that its great cultural-historical value came to light, including the discovery of the frescoes. After years of renovation, the chapel is again open to the public, located on the banks of the Rhine and the edge of the city centre.

(Source: E. Hunziker, I. Haupt, D. Wanger, Chr. Lang, Die Johanniterkapelle in Rheinfelden, Bern GSK, 2023)