Friday, January 08, 2010

Grüssau Abbey

For my birthday this year, I went on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Grüssau (Krzeszów) in Silesia, Poland. Perhaps some of you remember that Grüssau was mentioned on the NLM before, when a Solemn Mass in the usus antiquior was celebrated there in the Abbey Church. This is what I wrote then about Grüssau:

Grüssau (about whose history full of vicissitudes you can read a very brief entry here; you can find a bit more in German on the pages of the Apostolic Visitor for the priests and faithful of the old German Archdiocese of Breslau here) and its pilgrimage to the sacred image of the Mother of God, venerated there since the 14th century, play in important role in the piety of Silesia and the neighbouring regions, including Berlin, which until the erection of the diocese in 1930, was part of the diocese of Breslau (prince-episcopal delegature of Brandenburg and Pomerania). The Grüssau Litany ("Mutter Gottes, wir rufen zu dir") and the pilgrimage hymn ("Sei gegrüßt, du Gnadenreiche") are still regularly sung here.

While the pictures I took do not nearly compare to those of the solemn Mass - it was a rather misty day of January with very little light - some of you may be interested to see more from that beautiful basilica (click images to enlarge).

The exterior of the current church built 1728–1735:

The interior as it presents itself upon entering:

Looking up, you see one of the most beautiful organ façades I know (like the other most important scuptural elements such as the choir stalls or the high altar, it was created by F. M. Brokoff and A. Dorazil):

The ceiling frescoes by Neunhertz present mysteries of the childhood of Our Lord in very unusual forms. This is the flight to Egypt, where nevertheless the Saviour is represented in his glory surrounded by angels:

Approaching the high altar, beneath the crossing, one comes upon the splendid choir stalls. They consist of four segments on top of each of which is represented one of the four groups which the Te Deum mentions as praising the Lord. Here is the Prophetarum laudabilis numerus (Moses with the serpent of bronze at the centre):

And here to the left the sancta Ecclesia (recognisable by the papal cross) and the Martyrum candidatus exercitus (recognisable by the martyr's palm):

And now we come to the high altar, where directly above the tabernacle sits the sacred image of Our Lady of Grüssau, first mentioned in a document of Pope John XII in 1318 and canonically crowned by Pope John Paul II in 1997.

For a better view of the sacred image, here is one of the pictures taken at the solemn Mass last year:

On the vault of the northern transept is a fresco of the trnaslation of the Holy House of Loreto:

This hints to the fact that adjacent to the transeot (in fact, from the outside it is not distinguishable as a seperate structure) is a replica of the Holy House itself:

To have such replicas at pilgrimage sites was rather widespread in the Baroque epoch. Here is another example from the Schönenberg near Ellwangen, southwestern Germany, where I went some years ago:

There, the Holy House is visible through a window in the predella of the high altar, directly above the tabernacle:

Returning to Grüssau, here is a detail on one of the side altars which caught my attention, because I think it is rather uncommon to find a statue of a holy pope vested in choir dress (including camauro) rather than cope or chasuble:

Behind Grüssau's high altar is the mausoleum where the two Silesian Piast dukes Bolko I and Bolko II are buried. Sadly, this is the best pictures the scarce lighting allowed me to take of this splendid room (however, here is a link to a picture I found online):

Behind the mausoleum is yet another chapel, that of St. Mary Magdalen, which contains a replica of the Holy Sepulchre, which serves as the last station of the Way of the Cross (you may remember an outstanding example of such replicas of the Holy Sepulchre at Görlitz, likewise in Silesia, about which I wrote some time ago here):

Leaving the abbey church itself, to the north of it with the façades forming a right angle, is the church of St. Joseph built 1692–1695 by Abbot Bernhard Rosa O.Cist. for the confraternity of St. Joseph exsisting there for the laity. It is completely painted by Michael Willmann and his son of the same name (his grandson is Georg Wilhelm Neunhertz, who painted the frescoes in the abbey church):

The ceiling shows the ancestry of St. Joseph:

There is a unique set of lateral altars dedicated to different mysteries (the Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows) of the life of St. Joseph, which have not only wall frescoes as altar paintings, but the stipes itself is also painted. Here is the altar of the flight of Egypt (an different version of which by Willmann's grandson we have seen above):

The presbytery with its quite unusual elongated form. The entire apse is covered by the painting of the Nativity of the Lord (with its typical fantastical combination of camels in a Silesian landscape). The altar was expressly designed particularly low in order not to block any part of the fresco:

One of the two side altars left and right of the sanctuary, with tha altar painting showing the unusual sujet of the grief of St. Joseph over the pregnancy of Mary:

To finish, a nice detail of a Seraph:

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