Coesfeld received its city rights in 1197, but was first recorded earlier than that in the biography of St. Ludger, patron and first bishop of the diocese of Munster who was born north of Coesfeld in Billerbeck. The day before he died, Ludger spent the night in Coesfeld and heard mass in the morning in the church he founded. He was on his way from his abbey in Essen to Münster. The road he followed passed Coesfeld and Billerbeck, and after preaching in the St. Lambert's church, 26 March 809, he travelled on to Billerbeck, where he died in the evening.
The Coesfeld St. Jacobikirche dates from the same period as the city charter. For centuries, Coesfeld was an important stopping place for pilgrims traveling one of the more popular Germanic Jakobi routes leading from Warendorf over Münster to Coesfeld, and then on via Borken to Wesel on the Rhine.
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