Founded by Spanish Blackfriars in 1228, St Catharine’s Church was originally built on reclaimed marshland, but it eventually collapsed. The present structure dates from the 15th century. Of the 13 churches built during the pre-Reformation period in Ribe, Sankt Catharinæ Kirke and Ribe Domkirke are the only survivors.
In 1536 the Reformation forced the friars to abandon Sankt Catharinæ Kirke and, in the years that followed, the compound served as an asylum for the mentally ill and a wartime field hospital, to name a couple of its incarnations. These days the abbey provides housing for the elderly.
In the 1920s Sankt Catharinæ Kirke was restored at tremendous cost (due to its still-faulty foundations) and was reconsecrated in 1934. The interior boasts a delicately carved pulpit dating to 1591 and an ornate altarpiece created in 1650.
For a 5kr fee you can enter the tranquil cloister garden and enjoy a few minutes of contemplative silence.