Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Berg am Leimer

In December 2015 we had our Christmas Market 'fix' in Munich. The markets certainly brought out the crowds and a highlight was to attend Mass in the wonderful Asamkirche St Johann-Nepomuk about which more one day! I wanted to get out of the centre and see the former Court church of Berg am Leimer, as a contrast to the bustle of the city. This fine church was built 1737-57 for Clemens August, Archbishop of Cologne for his nearby Landschloss. The architect was Johann Georg Fischer.Now it is a simple parish church in a suburban outer area of Munich. We arrived as Sunday morning Mass was finishing and it was hard to get a decent look because the local official was keen to lock up the gates at the centre of the screen at the back of the church. This is quite common for Baroque churches to have a fine metal screen at the back which allows worshippers to pray without penetrating the body of the nave.What a joy to be able to worship in such a church every week!

There is stucco work and ceilings of the life of St Michael by JB Zimmermann, and with altars by the studio of JB Straub. Appropriately the high altar has a painting of St Michael overcoming Satan by Johann Andreas Wolff. The pulpit is crowned by a statue of ST Micael with the Bavarian flag, by Benedikt Hasler. Technically it is a wall pillar church with octagonal nave, narrower octagonal choir and transversly elliptical sanctuary of the same width.

The twin western towers are fine and present a dignified appearance - at least to this Baroque starved Englishman!

The photos are our own - the weather was beautiful.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


I have seen this Abbey church twice in my ramblings across Europe. the first time was in the early 1990s on a return journey from Italy. It was a new route, a new experience glimpsing this strange corner - Alsace - was it French or was it German? Then in 2015 Alsace was our goal and I had to make a repeat visit.

It was a joy : as our photos show. It has been fun to select videos to try to give you the atmosphere of this remarkable building. Do take a look if you are in the area. One day I'll be back to hear the organ!

The Abbey, dedicated to Saint Maurice, was founded in 667 by Saint Deodatus of Nevers on the island of Novientum in the River Ill. using relics of Saint Maurice which Deodatus had obtained from St Maurice's Abbey.Thanks to the support of Adalrich, Duke of Alsace, father of Saint Odilia, this Benedictine monastery flourished.It was destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War of 1618-48 and was not rebuilt until the early 18th century. The architect was the Austrian, Peter Thumb. Then lightning caused a disastrous fire in 1717 and Peter Thumb was recalled to do a rebuild. He incorporated several of surviving parts, including the seven sided apse, the square crossing with the same width as the choir and the tall shafts of the three towers, two on the west front and one behind at the back of the apse. The latter is very unusual and recalls Carolingian churches, It is this 3 tower feature that is most memorable. This rebuilding began in 1719 with a staggering 200 assistants to Thumb. It must have been a rich foundation! By 1727 the structural work was done, and decoration was underway. The frescos were completed 1728-1759.Furnishings completed by 1735. The interior is impressive and shows characteistics of Thumb's Voralberg style further west than ever seen before.

The above video gives a lovely little tour of the interior with Gregorian chant baackgound.

The abbey was dissolved during the French Revolution and the conventual buildings were demolished. The contents of the library were taken to Strasbourg, where most of them were burnt in the market place. The site was reoccupied in 1829 by a community of Marianist Brothers and Priests and from 1887 by the Sisters of St Joseph of Saint-Marc.

Confessionals complted 1733-5

Model of Ebersmunster  in the 18th century 

Silbermann organ

The church is justly famous for its wonderful Silbermann organ.

       This little video merges piano and this wonderful organ into a tour of the church