Triangular pediment on the front of the church with 12 freestanding sculptures in bronze.

Figure


The statues around John the Baptist are created so they represent as large a segment of the population as possible. There are young and old, men, women and children, there are the shepherd, the Pharisee and the teacher of the law. They are depicted as actively listening, although some may look somewhat mystified.

 

Story

All the Gospels tell an almost identical story about John the Baptist: "just as the prophet Isaiah had written: look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the LORD's coming! Clear the road for him!'" This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptised to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptised them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. John announced: "Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I'm not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit!" Mark 1,14-8.

 

Facts


Facing Nørregade, the church architect, C. F. Hansen, shaped the entrance of the church like a Greek temple front with pillars and large triangular end wall; in such architecture a figure group is obligatory. Bertel Thorvaldsen used his experience from restoring an original temple end wall of the Agina temple when he created the figure group around John the Baptist.
The assignment was agreed upon in November of 1819, and it was already completed in October of 1822. However, it was not until 1838 it was put on display in burnt clay. This material held up poorly, and in 1878 the statues were carved in marble and the figures were put up yet again. Finally, in 1928, the entire group was molded in bronze.