In front of St Peter's Cathedral, the image of a lion (Löwe) resembling a poodle (Pudel) can be seen sitting on a pedestal. The Osnabrück sculptor Lukas Memken (1860-1934) created the present replica from sandstone from the Ibbenbüren region, close to Osnabrück, in 1925. Since stone sculptures exposed to wind and rain only last a few centuries, it can be assumed that there were already several of these figures in the past. The predecessor of the present lion poodle is in the Museum of Cultural History in Osnabrück.
It is unknown when the figure was given the name Löwenpudel. Since poodle breeding did not begin in Germany until the 19th century, the term probably only became established from this period onwards. In earlier times, the monument was called "Löwenstein" or "The Stone Lion". First mentioned in 1331, it is believed that the Löwenpudel (or the Stone Lion) was associated with the Gogericht, a kind of forerunner of today's district court. It is also traced back to a conflict between Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the Duke Henry the Lion, a member of the Welf family dynasty who held jurisdiction over the cathedral district around 1170. He thus secured the highest clerical position in the mini-state of the Osnabrück bishopric. The Duke planned to expand his power, which the Emperor wanted to avoid. Barbarossa tried to break Henry's power and gave the citizens of the city their own jurisdiction. However, this only applied to the citizens themselves and did not include the nobility and clergy. Henry the Lion is said to have marked his own jurisdiction at the entrance to the cathedral area with a stone lion, which indicated to all onlookers the high jurisdiction he exercised here.
The legend of the Löwenpudel Statue
Time went by, the symbolic power of the "The Stone Lion" faded and so did the memory of its actual meaning. The people of Osnabrück gave their old emblem a new, legendary history, which is said to have taken place during the Saxon wars of the eighth century: Not long ago, the citizens of the city had sworn allegiance to the Frankish king Charlemagne. He had the cathedral built on the left bank of the river Hase. Now he heard that life in Osnabrück was no longer quite so Christian, that the citizens had given shelter to his opponent, the Saxon Duke Wittekind, and that the Franks had been driven out of the city. Charlemagne wanted them to pay for this betrayal and the city should atone for the breach of faith. So he swore that he would cut off the head of the first person he met in Osnabrück. When he reached the gates of the city, his sister came to meet him. She wanted to stand up for the citizens of Osnabrück. Charlemagne, not wanting to harm her, prayed to God to send him a sign. Then his sister's poodle jumped up to him and licked his hand. Karl then cut off the dog's head, thus fulfilling his oath. Out of sheer gratitude for the happy outcome, the people of Osnabrück then had the image of the poodle carved in stone forever in front of the cathedral as a reminder of his lion-like deed. He still stands guard there today.