The slightly irksome thing about these old churches, the ones out of the tourist circle, is that they’re locked up most of the week and only open for services. Which is fine, since I *go* to services, but I can feel awkward taking pictures of the whole place before or after.
Anyway, I showed up for an evening Mass at St Georg Dorfkirche, Obermenzing, a while back. There’s also morning prayer on Saturdays, which I haven’t gotten to yet.
This is the interior:
WOW. So, so cool.
There were a bunch of people there, but I got the feeling that some of them were there as a tour group (?) or maybe some kind of local history club on a field trip, because they were chatting loudly for the whole ten minutes before Mass — which in most Catholic parishes, is the time to be quiet. Also there was some guy standing up in front for a few minutes giving them some information about the church. I swear this anecdote is about to get interesting, and here it goes: One older guy, toward the back, and sitting right in front of me, apparently got fed up with all the noise and banged his hymnal down on the pew. It made quite a noise, and everybody looked back at him, and I think he realized that he’d really done what he’d been tempted to do, and he muttered something complaining about the noise. Then another older man, in front of him, turned around and briskly dressed him down for being rude in church. Then the first guy just got quiet and didn’t say anything and I felt so bad for him — because I was just as judgmentally annoyed by all the noise, and yet the second guy was right that it wasn’t the place to have a tantrum about other people not observing politeness-rules. ALL THIS HAPPENED. I think it’s a German thing — right? To speak up when someone else is disturbing the order of things, and tell them how they ought to act? Instead of just sitting there stewing and/or plastering on a smile and/or letting it go? I’ve been told this is a German thing.
I just felt awkward and soft and American. Can we PLEASE get some more passive-aggressivity up in here, I feel nervous.
The upper fresco, above the arch, is obviously from later than the rest of the wall paintings… I have no idea when. It’s the Last Judgment.
The floor plan of this church is as simple as it gets. A rectangle divided into two parts (the nave, for the people, and the chancel, for the priest and the altar). At the west end there’s a covered entrance, a sort of combined porch and vestibule, and at the east end there’s a tower, only accessible from a door at the back of the chancel. Those two sections were built later (the tower in 1610), but the church here, with its simple rib vault ceiling above the chancel, dates from 1430. The parish was established here in 1315, and there has been a church on this site since at least the 9th century.
Everything else has been halfway restored — I’m not sure if anything further is possible, but still, those obviously aren’t the original colors. They just freshened up the faint outlines that I think they uncovered under a layer of plaster.
It gives it all a whimsical look — half cave paintings of Lascaux, half children’s book. It’s humbling to think of how many generations of people knew these paintings and looked on them during the holiest and most reverent moments of their lives. They must have been done by someone with talent, but they don’t look that outstanding (though now it’s hard to tell). It seems like they were just simple, carefully made, but unremarkable decorations for a little village church.
This little gallery/organ loft has Baroque paintings of the 12 Apostles. The little organ is 18th century and was used here until an uncertain date, when it was packed away in the attic of a nearby church, Leiden Christi. Leiden Christi (I’ll post it soon) is much bigger, and was built in the 1920s due to population growth here outside the city. It became the parish church for Obermenzing, and from that point on St Georg went dormant. After being damaged in WWII, it was closed up until the late 60s, when renovation began. This was funded by the local farmers, who sold land and donated the proceeds for the rebuiding of the church.
St Wolfgang, in Pipping, was commissioned by our friend Duke Sigismund, who is also responsible for Blutenburg Schlosskapelle and the Frauenkirche downtown. It was dedicated on August 13, 1480. An earlier foundation here dates from the first half of the 14th century. Apparently the steeple is (or was?) the “end point” of the view down the canal in Nymphenburg Park (which goes far west of the palace… hard to explain. Except with Google Maps.)
I got lucky and visited St Wolfgang while there were workers there and the church was open. It’s apparently undergoing some serious renovation, because the whole thing was stripped down and covered up and all I could see were the walls and ceiling paintings. I hope by the time I leave, the altar, etc., will be back in place.
This time there was no alarm and I was free to go wherever I wanted! The workers just gave me a nod and a polite Grüß Gott as I walked around the outside and went in to take pictures.
It is a BEAUTIFUL CHURCH. The paintings have all been restored to their bright colors and it looks amazing.
On the walls around the sanctuary are scenes from the Passion – above, Christ falls while carrying his cross, and the Crucifixion. (Slightly clearer picture here.) These paintings are MUCH more sophisticated than the ones in St Georg, and Duke Sigismund presumably hired the best. The altar is supposed to be fantastic…
Pilate washes his hands, and Christ is scourged at the pillar.
Praying in the Garden of Gethsemani, and being mocked. And also, the tabernacle… much simpler than the one at Blutenburg!
Now I’m just posting them for the fun of it.
The view to the west.
This is practically my favorite part. Their nice pulpit with the Latin Doctors of the Church painted on the sides, and the teeny weeny stairs leading up to it!
A consecration cross and other leftovers.
St Wolfgang still has its cemetery attached.
And the wall and its gates, which I love.
And very nice windows.
Okay, the end! And goodnight!