Friday, January 26, 2018

The Church of St Francis Xavier in Lucerne, Switzerland

The Jesuit church in the Swiss city of Lucerne, dedicated to St Francis Xavier, was built from 1666 to 1677, one of the great Baroque jewels of the 17th century, and like most churches in Switzerland, is very perfectly well preserved. Here are a few shots I took during a recent visit.

St Francis Xavier with the Virgin and Child (above), and imparting a blessing from heaven (middle).
An allegory of St Francis as the patron of Lucerne. At the top, he rides a chariot like the prophet Elijah, which is pulled by exotic animals (an elephant, a cheetah and a camel), symbolizing the various parts of the world reached by his missionary activities. On the white and blue banner of the city is written “To St Francis Xavier, Protector of the City and Region.” To the left, the citizens, led by the bishop, look to him in heaven; the façade of the church is seen at the bottom.
 Side altar dedicated to St Ignatius 
A side altar dedicated to St Nicholas of Flüe (1417-87), often referred to as Brother Klaus, patron of the country, who was beatified while this church was under construction (1669), but not canonized until 1947. After many years as a married man, he separated from his wife with her consent, and lived his last 20 years as a hermit; in 1481, his personal intervention helped to prevent a war between the Swiss cantons, and he is honored as a national hero by Catholics and Protestants alike.
In the Counter-Reformation period, many Swiss Catholic churches demonstrated their allegiance to Rome, and professed their belief in the continuity of the Catholic Faith with the ancient Church, by acquiring relics of Saints from the Roman catacombs, such as this fellow St Silvanus.
 Some very nice inlaid stone work on the front of the side-altars
A reliquary of St Charles Borromeo, one of the most important Saints of the Counter-Reformation period; it also includes relics of Ss Mark the Evangelist, Polycarp (whose EF feast is today) and Valentine.
 A very nice consecration cross
The façade seen from the other side of the river Reuss, which runs through the city. (Creative Commons image from Wikimedia by Ikiwaner; I was there on a very cloudy day, so this is a better photo than mine.)

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