It’s my goal to get a lot of my backlogged pictures posted before I go to Warsaw at the end of the month (oh yeah! I’m doing that, did I tell you?) — because I’ll have two days (ish) there, a six hour layover in Vienna that I want to take advantage of, and then the first week of November I’m going with the family to Stuttgart, where N.’s parents live. Stuttgart may not be at the top of the list in terms of historical scenery, but N.’s dad is a history buff, and apparently knows a ton about local German history, so he might be able to guide me around and show me some things. N. told me that when he’s visited them here, he’s sought out all of the little medieval churches I’ve found here in Untermenzing and the surrounding neighborhoods, so I know he’s legit. I’m kind of excited about it!
Anyway, I know I’ll have a lot to post, and I want to have some of this other stuff out of the way. So let’s get going.
In this post I’m going to combine two churches because they are sort of similar. The first is the Frauenkirche (or officially, Dom zu unserer lieben Frau, “Cathedral of Our Dear Lady”), the seat of the archbishop of Munich-Freising, and a genuine Gothic church. However, it was badly bombed and had to be rebuilt after WWII, and sometime in the past several decades of liturgical reform it was altered quite a bit inside. The second is St Paul (not actually in the old city), a neo-Gothic church started in 1892 and finished in 1906. This was an era when historical styles like Romanesque and Gothic were revived all over Europe and the US, and all kinds of public and private buildings — libraries, university buildings, courthouses, even private homes — were built in an updated version of these styles. How exactly the updated styles are different from the original, I don’t know enough to say; but I can still usually recognize it. (And obviously location can be an easy giveaway. Hint: any Gothic-looking building in the US is not really from the 13th century.)
The Frauenkirche doesn’t look much like the big famous high Gothic churches — the cathedrals of Reims, Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, and so many English Gothic churches. (I think English Gothic is my personal favorite style — though I haven’t seen any in person yet!) It was supposed to have two spires on top of the towers, but money ran out, and in later years they just built on the twin Baroque domes, which are now a symbol of Munich. This church, remember, had the same architect and patron as the little chapel in Schloss Blutenburg.
Click on the door picture to view it in full size, and then look at the statues in the telescoping arches of the door… I like them.
The nave. This is called a “hall church.” The aisle and the nave are the same height, and there are huge windows on the sides spanning nearly the whole height of the church. (As opposed to windows just in the clerestory.)
A priest came up to the microphone just as I arrived and started to pray. I was really proud of myself for understanding just enough of the words to recognize that he (and the people in the pews) were going to pray the Angelus. (It was noon.)
Here’s the ambulatory — the circular passage behind the altar.
And here’s the choir and the high altar. To be honest, this church confused me. I felt like I ought to like it. It was medieval, and I usually really like the Gothic style. But I didn’t like it. It felt too airy, I guess. I’m not sure how exactly it was restored, but it felt modern. There was a lot of older art scattered throughout the side aisles and in the ambulatory, but it still didn’t grab me. I didn’t get very many good pictures, either. But here are some:
I’m not altogether sure what this wall of statues is for — I mean, there are the bigger statues of bishops and at least one king, and then the smaller statues, labeled on their columns, are probably particular patron saints of the Cathedral. But are these bishops buried here? Are they also saints? I didn’t look closely enough, and my pictures don’t show. So. I really like them, though.
This wall shows the insignia of the former archbishops of Munich-Friesing. Why does the guy in the middle get two?
Because he’s Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict. He has both episcopal and papal insignia. The bear (in both) is the symbol of St Corbinian, who, the legend goes, once tamed a bear on a missionary journey. St Corbinian founded (sort of) Freising, where Joseph Ratzinger was ordained as a priest and consecrated as a bishop — I went there! You will see it soon! The scallop shell is a symbol of pilgrimage, and the weird slightly un-PC African profile is a common heraldic image in Bavaria, for some weird reason.
Just look at the size of these stained-glass windows.
Mary, gathering all her chicks together under the mantle of the Church.
A pretty cool altarpiece.
And I’m not even sure what this is. But I like it.
There is a private chapel that’s only for people there to pray (ie, not tourists) — nice! But the tabernacle looks like it was made by a second-grader. Not so nice.
St Paul. It looks much more conventionally and pleasingly Gothic from the outside:
Cool! And I really can’t emphasize enough how much I love this exterior:
See all the overlap and layering, and the different shapes, and the sense that everything fits together in its own way, and the heaviness of the stone, but the soaring arches and steep height and crisp articulation of all of the unified parts… yes!!!!
I just love it!
Above the west portal of Romanesque and Gothic churches, there’s usually a carving of the Last Judgment. This is so you remember, every time you enter the church, that you’re definitely going to die someday, and then you’ll have to answer to Christ. (This arch above the door is called the tympanum. It will be on the test.) So what I LOVE about this is that it’s neo-Gothic statuary. It was probably carved around the turn of the century, and it looks both medieval and not medieval. Some experiments in reviving older styles really worked well, I think. I like most of the carvings in this church, while other things I don’t think work quite so well… although I’m just judging by my on the spot reaction to it, not anything more informed.
Here’s the nave, inside. Those colored-glass hanging things in front of the windows were only added in the last decade. (I don’t like them.)
I didn’t really feel that much about the interior. Maybe it’s just that I could tell it wasn’t old. Maybe I’ve become IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE and completely spoiled by all these churches. Probably that. If this church were in my hometown I would love it.
The Stations of the Cross —
— and this reredo (altarpiece) to St Joseph are also in that imitated-Gothic style.
SO: Gothic and neo-Gothic, and I’m not completely in love with either example. I gotta find more. (Edited to add: Courtney pointed out that these churches are boring because they don’t have enough color, and I think she hit the nail on the head!)