Roman Catholic Diocese of Hildesheim

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Diocese of Hildesheim

Dioecesis Hildesiensis

Bistum Hildesheim
Hildesheimer Dom 2015.JPG
St. Mary's Cathedral, Hildesheim
Wappen Bistum Hildesheim.png
CountryFlag of Germany.svg  Germany
Territory Hildesheim, Lower Saxony
Ecclesiastical province Hamburg
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Hamburg
Area30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2013)
616,210 (11.5%)
Denomination Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Cathedral St. Mary's Cathedral
Patron saint St. Godehard
Mary, Mother of God
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Heiner Wilmer
Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Heße
Auxiliary Bishops Hans-Georg Koitz (emeritus), Nikolaus Schwerdtfeger, Heinz-Gunter Bongartz
Karte Bistum Hildesheim.png

The Diocese of Hildesheim (Latin:Dioecesis Hildesiensis) is a diocese or ecclesiastical territory of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in Germany. Founded in 815 as a missionary diocese by King Louis the Pious, his son Louis the German appointed the famous former archbishop of Rheims, Ebbo, as bishop.


The Diocese of Hildesheim continues to exist; today, it covers those parts of the State of Lower Saxony that are east of the River Weser, northern neighbourhoods in Bremen, and the city of Bremerhaven. The current bishop is Norbert Trelle who was appointed in 2006. The diocese is a suffragan to the Archdiocese of Hamburg since 1994. Originally Hildesheim was suffragan to Mainz until 1805. Then it was an exempt diocese until 1930, before it was part of the Middle German Ecclesiastical Province with Paderborn Archdiocese as metropolitan between 1930 and 1994.


Between 1235 and 1802, the bishop of Hildesheim was also Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. His Hochstift (feudal princely territory) was the Prince-Bishopric of Hildesheim. In the 16th century, most of the diocese as well as most of the state of Hildesheim switched to protestantism. But the Bishopric managed to retain its independence from the surrounding protestant states of Brunswick-Lüneburg, mostly because its bishops were members of the powerful House of Wittelsbach from 1573 until 1761.

Diocesan ambit

Until 1824 the diocesan ambit remained unchanged, despite various changes of the political borders in history up to this date. After the Napoleonic wars the newly established Kingdom of Hanover stipulated with the Holy See to extend the Hildesheim diocesan ambit to all of the then Hanoverian territory east of the Weser river. [1] The newly included areas were Lutheran with a little Catholic diaspora and had formed part of the defunct dioceses of Bremen, of Mainz and of Verden before the Reformation.

Hildesheim diocese: The ambit until 1824 (black rimmed), after extension of 1824 (in magenta), and after inclusion of Brunswick in 1834 (in red and magenta) Bistum Hildesheim vor 1802 - nach 1824.png
Hildesheim diocese: The ambit until 1824 (black rimmed), after extension of 1824 (in magenta), and after inclusion of Brunswick in 1834 (in red and magenta)

Hannover's cession of land for Bremerhaven in 1827 to the prevailingly Reformed Bremen State did not alter the diocesan ambit. In 1834 the prevailingly Lutheran Duchy of Brunswick left the Apostolic Vicariate of Anhalt and agreed to extend Hildesheim's ambit to the ducal territory. [2] Thus the diocese covered areas in three sovereign states, with all of which and thus all the diocesan area becoming part of united Germany in 1871.

The incorporation of Hanoverian suburbs into Bremen city (Bremen North borough) in 1939 did not alter the ambit. In 1965 Hildesheim ceded that part of the then Hoya County District east of the Weser to the diocese of Osnabrück, whereas Osnabrück in return ceded Cuxhaven, Neuwerk, Scharhörn, Schaumburg-Lippe, as well as parts of the districts of Verden, Holzminden, Hameln-Pyrmont located west of the Weser, and the quarters of Nienburg upon Weser west of the river to Hildesheim. [3] In 1995 Hildesheim ceded its Harburg deanery in Hamburg south of the Elbe to the Archdiocese of Hamburg following the erection of this new see. [4]

Episcopal ordinaries


  1. Cf. Papal Bull Impensa Romanorum Pontificum of 26 March 1824, see Conventio inter Apostolicam Sedem et Saxoniam Inferiorem / Konkordat zwischen dem Heiligen Stuhle und dem Land Niedersachsen, 26 February 1965, Article 2 (1).
  2. Cf. Consistorial Decree of 2 July 1834, see Conventio inter Apostolicam Sedem et Saxoniam Inferiorem / Konkordat zwischen dem Heiligen Stuhle und dem Land Niedersachsen, 26 February 1965, Article 2 (1).
  3. Cf. Conventio inter Apostolicam Sedem et Saxoniam Inferiorem / Konkordat zwischen dem Heiligen Stuhle und dem Land Niedersachsen, 26 February 1965, Article 2 (2).
  4. Cf. Conventiones inter Apostolicam Sedem et Liberam et Hanseaticam Civitatem Hamburgi necnon Foederatam Civitatem Megaloburgi-Pomeraniae Anterioris atque Foederatam Civitatem Slesviciae-Holsatiae: De erectione Archidioecesis et Ecclesiasticae Provinciae Hamburgensis / Vertrag zwischen dem Heiligen Stuhl und der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, dem Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern und dem Land Schleswig-Holstein über die Errichtung von Erzbistum und Kirchenprovinz Hamburg, 22 September 1994, article 2 (1) and (2).

Coordinates: 52°08′56″N9°56′47″E / 52.1489°N 9.9465°E / 52.1489; 9.9465

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