When Sisi replaced a saint

August 3, 2020 2:29 pm Published by

In the year Sisi was murdered, 1898, a stained glass window showing Empress Elisabeth with her daughter Gisela and two grandchildren was placed in the new cathedral at Linz.   Originally the window was to show Saint Elisabeth with a rose miracle but it was changed to an image of Sisi holding a rose basket. 

The new cathedral is the largest in Austria seating 20,000 worshippers with a steeple that is 134 metres high, limited only by the need to be lower than St Stephen’s in Vienna.  The architect of the French-style, neo-Gothic cathedral was Vincent Statz who worked in Cologne. 

The author of the Blue Guide Austria is dismissive of the building.  ‘The reactionary tendency in the Austrian church of the day regarded the cathedral as a mighty visual offensive against the secular liberalism of contemporary politics. … The ‘statistics may serve to impress the visitor, for it is hard otherwise to enthuse about such unremittingly sterile architectural precision, the-end result of which is a soulless desert of all-encompassing gloom that would surely strike a chill in the heart of the most self-sacrificial church-mouse.   Still, the vastness of the space must have made the premiere of Bruckner’s E-minor Mass here in 1869 sound impressive.   The stained glass window depicting Linz history is much admired as is Sebastian Osterrieder’s nativity scene in the crypt.  The vast statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (1663) also have a monumental dignity.’  

Despite this criticism we enjoyed our visit there. 

Image: wikimedia.org   Linz Cathedral stained glass window of Empress Elisabeth, Archduchess Gisela and her children.

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