German Version

November 7th 1856 - Jesuit Church in Vienna

Under Habsburg's European Dynasty the Catholic Church of Austria experienced both extreme declines as well as impressive rises. The political development is characterized by war, marriage, and partition of countries. The Habsburger ruled since 1282. Up to the end of the monarchy in 1918 Vienna was capital and residence. Ancestral Seat of the Habsburger is the Habichtsburg (goshawk castle) in the area of the Aare (Lower Austria).

After the re-establishment of the Society of Jesus Emperor Franz Joseph I placed the University Church, which had been built from 1623 to 1631 in the style of the early Baroque by an unknown architect, on November 7th 1856 at the disposal of the Jesuits, for their pastoral care in the city centre - together with some rooms in the academy building (the former college). The name University Church is just as common as the name Jesuit Church. Since the abolition of the Society of Jesus in the year 1773 the church is property of the state.

Which importance the Jesuit Church in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had, can be seen from the decoration of the interior. The Jesuit Church belongs to the most beautiful rooms of Vienna, and with its works of art and the most solemnly celebrated services it attracts especially tourists. Here one makes much music. Each Sunday the Eucharist is celebrated with choir and orchestra, and a large congregration assembles, which comes from whole Vienna. Privileged performed are Masses of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert. The church offers not only old art, but also the works of contemporaries. The project 'Ikonostase' for example belongs there. That event for dance and music was organized together with the 'Dance Studio Vienna'. With the performances in September and October 1999 the choreographer Sebastian Prantl and the dancers took themselves much time to give an understanding of the religious dimension of that event.

The works of art are not presented in an exhibition, as in a museum. For some months there is to be seen one work only in each case. Time and place of the setting up are chosen in such a way that the relations between the work of art, the room, and the liturgical happening become recognizable. By accompanying texts and publications, by discussions and lectures one tries to make possible a new experience, not only of the presence of works of art, but of the presence of faith.

A figure of the sculptor Avramidris, one of Karl Prantl, and a five-part work of the Milan sculptor Paolo Gallerani got much attention, although a disputed one. The same can be said about the sculpture of Vittore Carpaccio with the title 'Weeping over Christ' and the figure 'Adam' of the young sculptor Lois Anvidalfarei. By such, partly daring styles is tried to harmonize liturgy and art. No wonder that the marvellous Baroque church of the Jesuits in the heart of Vienna attracts just the artistically interested faithful.

Father Gustav Schörghofer writes: 'In its depth the meaning of contemporary works of art discloses its identity only on the horizon of the spiritual and mystical tradition of the faith.'

Further Links:
Planet Vienna - Jesuitenkirche
Jesuiten in Austria - institutions


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Link to 'Public Con-Spiracy for the Poor'