Our camping stay in the Black Forest and other parts of Baden-Wurttemberg in summer 2017 had turned into something like a Baroque church crawl by the time we reached this specimen. We left our tent in Sigmaringen, clutching a tour map of local Baroque churches. We soon landed in this small village dominated by this former nunnery with its church. It was almost surreal.
Founded as a Cistercian nunnery in 1212 it grew into being a major local landowner; was wrecked in the Thirty Years War (1618-48); rebuilt in Baroque syle ; closed in 1806, and has been re-invented as a girls' high school with the church dedicated to St Bernard fully restored to general use. It is a single aisle church with nuns' gallery at the back. It was Abbess Jakobe von Bodman who had the church rebuilt from 1698. The architect was Jos Beer, a member of the well-known Vorarlberg building family. Abbess Antonia von Falkenstein had the great Baroque monastery completed 1721-7.
There was a Rococo stucco makeover by Johann Jakob Schwarzmann in 1753 with frescos started by Johann Melchior Eggmann and completed by Meinrad von Au, a local artist from Sigmaringen.
The main fresco is of St Humbelina visiting her brother St Bernard. Johann Michael Schadel painted and gilded the wooden sculptures.
So much for the history but what did I take back from it all? The nuns' gallery with its grill ;
the unique organ by Johann Georg Aichgasser dating from 1751; and the so elegant abbess's gallery overlooking the proceedings. Alas I did not hear the organ, nor get my fingers near it and can find no recording.
Only one, well two, items jarred. Vatican Two has meant that Mass is consecrated facing the people and the altar is brought forward. A stark, if small, altar and a lectern in plain modern stone had been added.Unobtrusive at a distance but on inspection, questiionable, at least to me.
|General view toeward high altar|
|The Abbess sat above in her gallery|
|Another view toward high altar and new altar|
|Note the new altar and lectern|
|Remains of an early saint at a side altar|
|Nuns' balcony and organ of 1751|
|Ceiling fresco of St Humbelina visiting her brother St Bernard|
|Time to move on : last look at the gallery|