Saturday, July 27, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Chapel of Schloss Vaduz

In the southern wing of Schloss Vaduz, the official residence of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, the castle chapel of Saint Anne, or Anna in German, is located. The chapel has both a religious as well as a - and that's a little more surprising - worldly, or in other words political, function. But let's talk about its history and interior first.
Adrian Hasler, Liechtenstein's prime minister, is sworn in by
Hereditary Prince Alois in front of the altar at the chapel of Schloss Vaduz
(Photos: IKR)
The origins of the castle chapel lie in the High Middles Ages when Schloss Vaduz was presumably built by the family of the counts of Werdenberg-Sargans. It is generally assumed that the part of the building was erected before the first known mention of the castle in 1322. In 1416, the barons of Brandis took full possession of the castle above Vaduz and it was the Brandis family who gave it a remodelling and chose to dedicate it to Saint Anne, believed to be the mother of the Virgin Mary and thus grandmother of Jesus Christ.

The remodelling had become necessary, after the Swabian War of 1499 had destroyed large parts of the castle. Archeological finds made in 1995, suggest that the chapel was once used as a storage room for grain as different kinds where found in the deepest layer of the floor.

In 1511, the Saint Anne congregation was founded and exists to this day. Looking at the way the chapel looks these days, it becomes clear it underwent a few remodellings and renovations since the Middle Ages, for example in 1905 and most recently in 1995.

Considering the collecting passion of the prince of Liechtenstein over the centuries, it is not very surprising that the chapel is full of distinguished treasures of art. The late Gothic high altar's polyptych shows a group of Vesper, the inner panels depict St Barbara and St Katharina and the side panels the ten thousand martyrs of Mount Ararat. The predella shows a painting of the 11,000 virgins of Cologne supposedly martyred by Attila the Hun in 383. Three statues are placed on the tabernacle of the canopy, namely Anna selbdritt, Saint Sebastian and Martin of Tours.

Swearing in of the government in 1965
by Prince Franz Joseph II
The castle chapel is the private chapel of the Princely Family and regularly used by them for mass. Once a year, on the Wednesday of the rogation week - the week of Feast of the Ascension, in case you are not too much into Catholic holidays - the parish of Vaduz makes a pilgrimage to the chapel. Old church books tell that masses where held at the castle's chapel for regular folks every once in a while.

The entrance of the chapel of St Anne is through the courtyard, while the gallery is accessed through the castle itself.

In one of the most surprising things you'll probably ever hear about happening in a Catholic church, the chapel is also used to swear in the government of Liechtenstein. At first the sovereign prince or his regent swear in the prime minister and afterwards the head of government then swears in his ministers. Parts of the procedure can be seen in this video (starting at about 6:05).

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the political aspect is very interesting!!