During my studies at the Vienna University (history of literature and history of art) and a long time afterwards I was working at the theatre. A good friend, an actress who was from Upper Austria, once said to me, “You know we have a romantic villa near Spital am Pyhrn* in the most beautiful landscape. I will not have to tell you more about as you are historian of art and you certainly know the convent and the church there …” I remember that I didn´t look very clever when she said this. I knew of course that there was the village Spital am Pyhrn but I never was there. Living in Styria for many years I have been catching up …
My husband and I went there many times because of the beauty of the church, a breath taking baroque work of art. The church is so unique – beginning with the façade from stone, very seldom in Austria where there is much more painted baroque architecture. And then the spectacular interior you do not want to leave even if you are not a Roman Catholic. – If you are Roman Catholic and want to know more about the church services please look here. The parish priest Friedrich Höller, a Cistercian monk, from the nearby located Stift Schlierbach is the abbey´s commissioned archivist and librarian.
Entering the church you are suddenly fascinated by the wall paintings by Bartolomeo Altomonte that give the illusion of a temple open towards the sky, towards heaven, densely populated by saints and angels. If you cannot enter as the grille (the iron grating) is closed enjoy the baroque artwork through the grille. In baroque nothing was left to chance. Every iron grating was a masterpiece itself, a welcoming framework alluring the contemplator to come nearer. Even if it is closed it will make you agog to return to this magic place.
What to say about the woodwork – the panels, the pulpit, the oratories, the pew and the wall closets? Every piece carved out of wood, inlayed, painted or guilt is from an intoxicating beauty. The other day we had a big chance to see much more of everything. There was an observance, many people enjoying an agape and every door was open. I was gawping at everything like a child that gets its first picture book.
If you happen to pass by Spital am Pyhrn (travelling from Linz towards South or from Graz to Salzburg) make a stop. And don´t forget to visit – before or afterwards – the nearby located Cistercian Stift Schlierbach.
*A village at the border Upper Austria – Styria.
I have to add something to Spital am Pyhrn! The Altar pieces were painted by Johann Martin Schmidt – known as Kremser Schmidt
Not long before he executed this commision, he lost his four children in a row due to some disease, today probably curable. On the first painting on the left he added his self portrait: he is depicted as a monk, the only person on the painting actually looking at the viewer. The expression on bis face is struck with grief It’s very touching.
All the besteht