Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Pilgrimage to Vienna September 2010 - Day 2

After an intensive first afternoon the next morning started with Mass in the Kapuzinerkirche, where they celebrate the Latin Mass every morning, then back to the monastery on the Freyung for breakfast before the group of pilgrims were back on the streets to experience more of Catholic Vienna. The guest house is part of the Schottenstift, named after the Schotten (Scots); Irish monks involved in missionary work, a Benedictine monastery.

First stop on this days walk was the Stephansdom - St. Stephen's Cathedral - with its incredible roof and towers. There's been a church on the site since 1147, and indeed the entrance and towers of that church are the ones in the cathedral today, the rest of the church is the result of several rebuilds and additions - all in the gothic style, but differing slightly in age. After another excellent pilgrims presentation we looked around inside the church. Going up in a lift to the top of the North Tower we had a look at the bells in the tower (the famous Pummerin bell, third largest in Europe) as well as a great view of the entire city of Vienna (and a close up-view of the roof!), but there was, of course, also much to see in the church itself. A Byzantine style icon of the Madonna and child can be found just inside the doors to the church. It was brought to Vienna in the late 1600s by the Emperor Leopold I after the Mother in the picture had on several occasions been crying real tears.

The last thing on the agenda was the Kapuzinerkirche and its Kaisergruft. This Capuchin church, officially named Church of St. Mary of the Angels, is the one where the Latin Mass is celebrated each morning. It was finished in 1632 after having been delayed by the outbreak of the 30 years war. Underneath the church is a mausoleum where most of the remains of all the members of the Habsburg dynasty are laid to rest - 143 Habsburgs are entombed here. The first people to be buried here were Emperor Matthias and Empress Anna of Tyrol, who also provided the money to build both the church and the crypt, whose sarcophagi are kept in the Founder's Vault. The crypt is an impressive, though somewhat scary, place full of coffins and decorative skeletons.

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