They will shape the face of the cathedral, says Cologne Cathedral provost Gerd Bachner. For the first time in history, women were able to apply for the Cathedral Swiss position. The first four now introduce themselves.
"The phrase 'today is a historic day' should not be used lightly – but it really applies to today," said Provost Bachner at today's press conference. This Tuesday, the first four Cathedral Swiss women will introduce themselves. In the future, you are to watch over order in Germany's largest and best-known cathedral, together with the 26 male cathedral guards.
Visiting card and central signpost
After several centuries in which the supervisory service at Cologne Cathedral was performed exclusively by men, the so-called "Domschweizern", the first women now also hold this office. "We want the cathedral to be perceived as a place of welcome and care," says Bachner. "The Cathedral Swiss prepare the entree for this: they are considered business cards and central signposts in our cathedral. The fact that women are now serving in this office enriches and refreshes our cathedral immensely."
Bachner was convinced that with Claudia Drolshagen, Andrea Petzenhauser, Hedi Michels and Susanne Ruckes, four Cathedral Swiss women had been found who carried out their service with great enthusiasm and a fine feeling for people. "All four bring valuable life experience and a lot of personality to the cathedral," said the cathedral provost. "For your start of work, I wish you God's rich blessings, many fulfilling moments and a good dose of serenity."
The idea came from the dean of the cathedral. Towards our site he said, "I am glad and grateful that the cathedral chapter has followed this proposal and opened this door. The fact that women are now also coming into this circle, that will shape the face of the cathedral for the people.".
First job advertisements a year ago
Currently there are 29 Cathedral Swiss at Cologne Cathedral: 26 men and three women (the fourth Cathedral Swiss begins her service on 1. June an). According to Bachner, the Cathedral Swiss Office has been the last lay ministry at the Cathedral to be performed only by men. Sextons and lectors already existed. He said the cathedral chapter had first placed an ad in May 2018, but it had not been heeded so far. As a result, a job advertisement was published again in February 2019.
Staff are trained by police and security to be able to spot anomalies, such as abandoned bags, in particular, it said. In recent years, the average age of the supervisory staff at the cathedral has decreased to 47 years, it was said. The concern of the cathedral chapter is that this change continues in the coming years.
The Cathedral Swiss have been present since the 17. The cathedral's spokesman, Markus Fradrich, said they had probably already existed in the Middle Ages. They wear long red robes with black velvet trim and black caps. They get their name from the fact that in the past, Swiss mercenaries often applied to be guards.
The most important task of the cathedral's Swiss is to be available as a point of contact for the up to 30,000 visitors a day. They also have to maintain peace and order. There are some rules for visitors: you are not allowed to wear a hat, you are not allowed to bring a dog and in summer you are not allowed to be dressed only in a bikini.