- MONDSEE, ST GILGEN and ST WOLFGANG PART 3 -

St Wolfgang 1

LINKS to other pages in the Mondsee and Wolfgang site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Attersee and Mondsee
2 : St Gilgen
3 : St Wolfgang
Home Page : Austria 2009
Home Page : Colin Day's Links
Home Page : Links Full Index

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Wolfgang, bishop and reformer, was born in Swabia, Germany, and studied at Reichenau, under the Benedictines, and at Wurzburg before serving as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier.

He later joined the Benedictines at Einsiedeln (964) and was appointed head of the monastery school, receiving ordination in 971. He then set out with a group of monks to preach among the Magyars of Hungary, but the following year (972) was named bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II.

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As bishop, he distinguished himself brilliantly for his reforming zeal and his skills as a statesman. He brought the clergy of the diocese into his reforms, restored monasteries, promoted education, preached enthusiastically, and was renowned for his charity and aid to the poor, receiving the title Eleemosynarius Major (Grand Almoner).

Wolfgang also served as tutor to Emperor Henry II. He died at Puppingen near Linz, Austria in 994 and was canonized in 1052 by Pope Leo IX. St Wolfgang's feast day is October 31.

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Some edited comments from Wikipedia and the 'TourMyCountry.com' website are reproduced below, with acknowledgement.

"Situated on the northern shore of the Wolfgangsee (close to the towns of Strobl and St. Gilgen, both in the State of Salzburg) at the foot of the Schafberg mountain, it is famous for the White Horse Inn (Hotel Weißes Rössl), the setting of the musical comedy and for its pilgrimage church with a late Gothic altarpiece by Michael Pacher.

"A destination spa, St. Wolfgang is also a popular skiing resort during the winter. A rack railway, the Schafbergbahn runs up the mountain."

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Today, St Wolfgang is popular with elderly Austrian visitors for the comic operetta "Im Weißen Rössl" ("In the White Horse" — a local inn or hotel). With "The Sound of Music" being virtually unknown in Austria, there seems to be a gap for kitchy musicals - filled with this very comedy, which is not overly popular anywhere else than in Austria. The inn, however, actually exits and is situated in a prominent location by the lakeside (left and below)

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Ralph Benatzky (5 June 1884 — 16 October 1957) was born in Moravské Budejovice as Rudolf Josef Frantisek Benatzki. He was an Austrian composer of Czech origin (when Benatzky was born Czechia was part of the Austrian empire. Benatzky mostly worked in Vienna).

He composed operas and operettas (such as Casanova (1928), Die drei Musketiere (1929), Im weißen Rössl (1930), and Meine Schwester und ich (1930). He died in Zürich, Switzerland.

Im weißen Rössl (English title: White Horse Inn or The White Horse Inn) is a musical comedy set in the Salzkammergut region. The plot revolves around the head waiter of the inn in St. Wolfgang who is desperately in love with the owner, a resolute young woman who at first only has eyes for one of her regular guests.

Sometimes classified as an operetta, the show enjoyed huge successes both on Broadway and in the West End (651 performances at the Coliseum starting April 8, 1931) and was filmed several times.

In a way similar to The Sound of Music and the three Sissi movies, the play and its film versions have contributed to the saccharine image of Austria as an alpine idyll — the kind of idyll tourists have been seeking for almost a century. Today, Im weißen Rössl is mainly remembered for its songs, many of which have become popular classics.

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Saint Wolfgang erected the first church at the shore of the Wolfgangsee after he withdrew to the nearby Mondsee Abbey in 976. According to legend he threw an axe down the mountain to find the site and even persuaded the Devil to contribute to the building by promising him the first living being ever entering the church. However Satan was disappointed as the first creature over the doorstep was a wolf.

"After Wolfgang's canonization in 1052 the church became a major pilgrimage site as it was first mentioned in an 1183 deed by Pope Lucius III. A small church might well have been in place for quite a while but the first proper church can be traced back to 1183.

"St Wolfgang grew steadily into the prosperous little place that it essentially still is - getting the privilege of having an own market in 1567, becoming a centre of pilgrimage and eventually turning into a touristy place over the course of the 19th century. Day-trips to St. Wolfgang

"Being a church of pilgrimage for a very long time (until Emperor Joseph II fought such customs in the late 18th century), the church could afford the erection of an elaborate altar.Known as the "Michael Pacher Altar" (named after the famous Tyrolian craftsman), it is considered to be among the most significant pieces of Gothic art in all of Austria. It is 12 metres high and was completed in 1481.

"Not the only attraction among the church's interior, another altar can be found further up the nave: The "Schwanthaler Altar" is Baroque dating from 1676 and was meant to replace the 'outdated' one by Michael Pacher. According to legend, Schwanthaler (himself a famous craftsman) purposely made the altar too big to fit into the Pacher niche in order to prevent the Gothic altar from being destroyed!"

Just outside the church one can see a small Renaissance fountain built for the pilgrims (below left).

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The 1481 artistic masterpiece in the shape of the richly decorated winged high altar by Michael Pacher (below).

The superbly carved central section is richly gilded and portrays the Virgin Mary wearing a crown and kneeling before her Son in intercession for Mankind; by their sides stand St Wolfgang and St Benedict.

The ciborium above consists of a number of slender pinnacles, with God the Father uppermost and below Him a superbly sculpted Crucifixion group. The predella, or base of the altar, depicts the Three Kings paying homage to the Infant Jesus.

The two side panels show scenes from the life of Christ and Mary, including the Nativity and the Death and Assumption of Our Lady.

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The pulpit (below and below left was made by yet another master of his craft: Meinrad Guggenbichler.

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