A shared church (German: Simultankirche), simultaneum mixtum, a term first coined in 16th-century Germany, is a church in which public worship is conducted by adherents of two or more religious groups. Such churches became common in the German-speaking lands of Europe in the wake of the Protestant Reformation.[1] The different Christian denominations (such as Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, or United, etc.), share the same church building, although they worship at different times and with different clergy. It is thus a form of religious toleration.[1]

Simultaneum as a policy was particularly attractive to rulers who ruled over populations which contained considerable numbers of both Catholics and Protestants. It was often the opposite of cuius regio, eius religio and used in situations where a ruler was of a different religion than the majority of the people, and not strong enough to impose his religion on the population.[1]

During the Nine Years' War (1688–1697), Louis XIV of France occupied the Electorate of the Palatinate, a Protestant region situated mainly in the western part of what is today Germany, where he introduced the simultaneum. At the end of the war the region returned to Protestant control, but a last-minute addition to the Treaty of Ryswick provided for a continuation of the simultaneum. Although intended to apply only to the Palatinate, the simultaneum was subsequently also applied in portions of Protestant Alsace (a region ruled by France, but where the Edict of Fontainebleau was not enforced).


Following the compromise between the Reformed Aniconism and Lutheran Adiaphora in Ringstedt's Reformed-Lutheran simultaneum of St. Fabian there is a Lutheran altar, but it shows no crucifix, but only candles.
Map of all simultaneum churches in Germany
Lutheran and Catholic altars in St. M. Kozal church in Gniezno, Poland
Triple in New York


  • Olne, province of Liège; a simultaneum was introduced in 1649
  • Rheinberg-Ossenberg, Castle Chapel, a Catholic-United simultaneum until the present day




  • Gniezno, St. Michał Kozal Church, Roman Catholic and Evangelical (of the Augsburg confession) simultaneum (the church with two presbyteries)

United KingdomEdit

  • Arundel, St. Nicholas' Church and Fitzalan Chapel. This consists of an Anglican parish church, with a separate Roman Catholic chapel attached, the latter being the burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk. Although these exist within a single building, it is suggested that this should not be properly considered a simultaneum, as there is no worship space which is shared, but used at different times. The two spaces are separated by an iron grille, and a glass screen, which is kept locked, except during very occasional ecumenical services. The glass screen replaces a brick wall which was erected by a Duke of Norfolk in the 19th century. It was lowered in 1956 and entirely removed in 1970.[4]

United StatesEdit

  • Virginia Beach, Church of the Holy Apostles, Roman Catholic and Anglican simultaneum[5]

Holy Land church-sharingEdit

The main traditional pilgrim churches of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are shared between several denominations. The regulatory work is known as the "Status quo", a type of church-sharing which is in no way related to the West European Protestant-Catholic sharing system described here (the "simultaneum").[citation needed][who?]


  • HighBeam Research, dictionary definition: simultaneum [1][dead link]
  •, Simultaneum (French language) [2]
  • Musée virtuel du Protestantisme, "Le Simultaneum" (French language): "Le simultaneum résulte de l'histoire alsacienne. Il s'agit d'un édifice cultuel utilisé simultanément par les deux confessions catholique et protestante." [3]
  • [The] Rhein and Laeng of Herrliesheim: Brief History of Alsace-Lorraine [4]
  • Bernhard Brockmann, Simultaneum in Goldenstedt [5]


  1. ^ a b c Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe, Harvard University Press, 2007, Chapter 8, pp. 198. ff..
  2. ^ Simultaneum in Boos (Nahe)[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Boos (Nahe), photos of the simultaneum
  4. ^ "St Nicholas' Church Arundel - a brief history" (undated, apparently published by the Vicar and Churchwardens)
  5. ^ "Two Altars, One Mass: Catholics and Episcopalians worship together in a unique church". TIME. 117: 20. 1981.

External linksEdit