Where were we…
The Domberg! It’s a self-contained complex of buildings on top of this hill, an episcopal quarter which includes: the Domkirche of St Korbinian and St Mary; the former episcopal residence and its attached chapel, St John; cloisters for the former cathedral chapter; the cathedral library or Bibliotheksaal; and the Diözesanmuseum (in my previous post).
The Domkirche, with its distinctive towers. The towers are medieval, but the rest of the church on the inside was redone in late Baroque and rococo by the Asam brothers. The cloisters are attached to the back.
Here is the former residence and St John (in pink). St John was locked and I couldn’t go in, so this is all you get!
There was a little garden and balcony on the southern side of the hill…
Which also provided this view — that building on the top of the hill on the left is Weihenstephan Abbey, the oldest brewery in the world, and sadly no longer an abbey. I didn’t go there this time because it was a little too far, I didn’t have much money, I don’t care too much for beer, and it didn’t have the double attraction of being an active monastery. But hopefully I’ll go there at some point and get to try some of that beer, which is supposed to be good.
In the courtyard, a statue of Otto of Freising! “Bishop and History Writer,” says the inscription.
I like Otto. And speaking of history writers, the library here is a very important one for sources on Bavarian and early medieval history. Check out these manuscripts, available online, for examples. One of the most notable manuscripts are the “Freising Manuscripts,” which are the oldest example of a Slavic language written in Latinized form, and are the first written source of Slovene. The library was closed when I was there, so I couldn’t look inside, but from Googling it it looks really awesome.
Inside the vestibule of the Cathedral…
I include this painting only because it shows somebody’s head being lopped right off.
The portal here is the only part left of the Romanesque building, besides the crypt. The Romanesque church was built in 1159, after the previous church burned down.
Up until this point, I’d just been poking around in the vestibule, taking my time, until I took a look through the door and BOOM.
So many complex layers and intersections!
The organ in the rear gallery.
A fresco of Corbinian preaching to the people.
Here we are inside one of the side aisles.
Haha, they have screens in the aisles so that everyone can see what’s going on at the altar – and they stick the camera in the pulpit.
A side altar with a medieval statue of Mary and Christ…
The chancel and choir…
And more Michaelstag offerings.
And the high altar.
The ceiling above the transept has a cool illusionistic ceiling…
And then I went DOWN INTO THE CRYPT.
At this point, I about had a heart attack, I was so happy.
As I said, the crypt with the rest of the Romanesque cathedral was built in 1159, but would have been here before. It is located right below the chancel and the high altar — something very important, since the crypt holds the relics of St Corbinian. In other words, it taps right into the power of the place, the locus, of this bridge between the divine and human world that late Antique and medieval Christians believed was found in the bodies of saints. Christian holy people didn’t lose their force of personality upon their death; in fact it was amplified by virtue of their union with God, and so they were even more eager to intercede for the people and places they knew on earth. They didn’t just sever all ties with their earthly body, either, because of the connected teachings of the Incarnation and their future resurrection.
Each of the columns in the crypt is unique.
The most famous is the “Beast Column,” which shows men fighting with different fantastic creatures.
On the east side of the pillar, which you can see on the left, there is a pregnant woman who will give birth to Christ, who will come like the rising sun (in the east) to defeat the powers of evil.
The relics of St Nonnosus are also buried here.
This part was so dark you couldn’t see anything. But with the magic of flash, you can see it is the sepulcher of… somebody.
And finally, Corbinian’s reliquary.
I lit a candle to pray for the reconversion of Germany…
There were these panels depicting different events in Corbinian’s life. It was so dark that it didn’t turn out too well, but you can look at them here.
There’s a chapel behind the grate. The statues in the walls are of Corbinian, Boniface, Rupert and Maximilian – the early missionaries in Bavaria.
Then you turn and see this, and you begin to faintly make out something or other inside the inner room…
This must be his effigy, and his body is mostly inside the coffin, while some smaller relics are in the reliquary? I’m not sure.
We’re almost done with the crypt… here are the relics of St Lantpert, bishop of Freising from 937-957.
Goodbye crypt! Now I have to show you the chapel of St John Nepomuk and the cloisters, but I’ll try and hurry it up! This post is outrageously long already.
The lighting in this chapel was breathtaking. I wasn’t a big fan of rococo before I came to Germany, but I’ve really come to love it, because it can have these moments of pure light and joy that Romanesque and Gothic don’t allow for in the same way.
It even makes me fond of those stupid chubby-baby-angels.
Here come the cloisters…
With tombstones from many long-forgotten priests, deacons, and assorted clergy who lived and died here.
There are set scenes and poses, usually priests dispensing the sacraments, or…
kneeling at prayer.
This one was fun because it has lots of little recogizable iconographic elements. From the top right and moving clockwise (with links to detail of each): St Paul, St Sigismund (?), St Sebastian, (I think) St George, then St Christopher, the Adoration of the Wise Men, St Corbinian with his bear, and St Peter.
At certain points through the cloisters there are these little rooms, some of which you could look into, with altars and painted ceilings…
I couldn’t fully capture the brilliance of the light in this room.
Benediktuskirche, the monastery church, built in the Gothic style in 1347 as a counterpoint to the bishop’s court chapel across the way. Before then it was the site of the introduction of strict Benedictine observance sometime in the early or central middle ages. (I’m working off German websites here.)
There was a grille in front keeping me from going in, but I still got a pretty good picture with zoom.
On the ceiling.
And finally, I went into the inner courtyard.
It is beautiful and humbling to be in a place like this.
And that is the end of the Domkirche!