I have a lot to post, so I’m just going to start.
Two weeks ago (!) I went downtown for the first time, inside the old medieval walls (now the ring road), and visited a few churches. The first was St Peter’s, called Old St Peter’s, because it’s the oldest parish church in Munich.
The oldest remains date from 1150 (Munich is, really, one of the “newer” big cities in Europe) but there was a pre-Merovingian church on the site (hint: the Merovingians ruled from the 5th-8th century) and monks lived here in community sometime in the 8th century. “München” is related to the Old German word for monks, and that is how the whole city became a place, instead of just a bend in the river.
(This is just a picture from Wikipedia – I couldn’t get a good one of the whole building.)
There was a Romanesque building, then a Gothic one (finished 1294 and built to keep up with the newest Gothic church in the city, the Frauenkirche), and then Baroque (finished in 1621, with rococo alterations in the 1700s). The church was bombed and nearly completely destroyed by 1945. It was reconstructed and restored through funds raised from the people of Munich.
It was the seat of the deanery¹ from the middle ages on and never lost its precedence until 1821, when the Frauenkirche became the cathedral church for the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising².
¹ What is a deanery? An ecclesiastical jurisdiction you don’t need to know about.
² The diocese of Freising was organized and founded in 739 by my buddy, St Boniface, an Anglo-Saxon missionary who came to Germany to convert the pagans and minister to the rather disorganized Christians already here. St Corbinian, Frankish missionary to Bavaria, is also named as a founder, but although he was a bishop, he didn’t actually set up a diocese. In 1821, after the diocese was briefly dissolved after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, the diocese was made an archdiocese and had its seat in Munich — thus, today, it’s known as the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and, as you might know, Pope Benedict XVI was appointed archbishop here in 1977.
This is going to be a quick introduction (I hope), and maybe later I’ll make another more thorough post.
When St Peter’s was rebuilt in the 1600s, it was part of the effort to make Munich the “German Rome.” And so the Baroque redesign of St Peter’s was modeled on St Peter’s in Rome. And here’s the man himself:
These gorgeous ceiling frescoes were only fully restored in 2000. This shows Peter’s martyrdom (crucified upside down out of reverence to Christ) and Heaven opening up to welcome him in. The white triangle is a symbol of the Trinity.
Peter being scourged. There are more frescoes, depicting different events in Peter’s life, but I didn’t take pictures of all of them yet.
The high altar. I’ve got to go again when the sun isn’t directly behind. I love the green and gold on those arches. The coloring of this whole interior is really beautiful, I think.
The pulpit. There were a good dozen or two dozen people praying here, in between Masses at 8, 9, 10, and 11. I stayed for the one at 10. Unlike the Frauenkirche (which I visited next), there was a very lived-in, non-touristy feeling in this place. I felt fine taking pictures, because I was also there to pray, but it felt intimate and well-used.
In the side-aisles are various little chapels and side altars with artwork, relics, etc., most of them gated off. But they had a few open, like:
The Mariahilf altar.
And I stuck my camera through the gate to try and get this picture of a late medieval altarpiece, a type called a retable. The program, or thematic layout, of this altar is pretty clear. On the bottom level, Christ dies on the cross, watched by his mother Mary, John (the Beloved Disciple), St Martin and St Ulrich (important regional saints), and the patrons of the artwork (remember, commissioning a piece of sacred art was a religious act). Then above, Christ sits in judgment with Mary and John the Baptist interceding for humanity at his feet. Then below that, in the middle section, the dead are brought to life, the damned sent to Hell, and the blessed to Heaven, while the Apostles look on. This altarpiece was carved in sandstone, SANDSTONE.
Pictures of the church after being bombed in WWII.
Then I went up in the tower!
Climbing the tower…
Aha! I’m up. And here’s the Marienplatz with the neo-Gothic Neue Rathaus and the famous glockenspiel. The yellowish church behind and to the right is the Theatinerkirche, which I will show you soon…
And here’s the Frauenkirche. As you can see, one of the towers is under renovation.
This isn’t a picture of anything. Just the city.
And behind me, the Heilig-Geiste-Kirche (Church of the Holy Spirit).
All along the outer walls of the church were plaques detailing who exactly is buried here.
This one on top is in Latin, so I can actually read it. Roughly: “Here lies Lord Michael Humpl(?) with his brother Thomas, from whose brotherly love neither life nor death could separate him. Behold, how good it is for brothers to dwell together in unity (Ps. 133:1) .” It is dated April 3, 1777.
And that’s it. Also in the pipeline:
Touristing in the Marienplatz. Frauenkirche. Theatinerkirche and the Odeonplatz. St Michael. St Ludwig. Damenstiftskirche. Sendlinger Tor. Karlsplatz. St Georg Dorfkirche with its half-restored medieval wall paintings. The Blutenburg chapel, still. And more. Phew.