Saturday, August 1, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Kathedrale St. Florin

For a long time, Schaan, the biggest one of Liechtenstein's municipalities, was the country's religious centre. Today, however, it lies within the Principality's capital, Vaduz: The Cathedral of St. Florin, or Kathedrale St. Florin in German, is the centre of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vaduz, which was established not too long ago. As it is Liechtenstein's most famous church, it is occassionally mentioned here on Luxarazzi. High time to have a closer look...

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On the site of today's cathedral, a chapel was once located. Also dedicated to Florinus of Remüs - a 9th century saint of the Catholic church -, this chapel was once the final resting place of the lords of the county of Vaduz, the Counts of Werdenberg, the Barons of Brandis as well as the Counts of Sulz and Hohenems. At this time, however, the chapel in Vaduz still belonged to the parish church of St. Peter located in aforementioned Schaan. When the Princely Family of Liechtenstein purchased the areas which later became Liechtenstein, they also gained the right of patronage for the church.

By 1842, a quasi-parish - a definite community of the Christian faithful in a particular church, entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor but not yet erected as a parish because of particular circumstances - was founded in Vaduz. In 1868, the decision was made that an actual parish should be established and a church would be build in the village. Prince Johann II, who was nicknamed "the Good" by his people and wished to gift the chief village of his Principality an own church, paid for three quarters of the costs.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Architect Friedrich von Schmidt, who constructed no less than 125 churches in his life and also worked on Vienna's town hall as well as  Cologne cathedral, was commissioned to come up with plans. They were carried out by Ignaz von Banko starting on August 17, 1869. The topping out ceremony of the three-aisled Neo-Gothic church was celebrated in June of the following year. The church's three altars were consecrated in October 1873.

Next to the church, the Princely Burial Crypt is located. Prior to the Second World War, members of the Princely Family were buried in what today is the Czech Republic. Due to the War, the following Cold War and the family generally making Liechtenstein their primary home, there was a need for a new crypt. And so the Princely Burial Crypt was erected in 1960. It is the final resting place of more than 30 members of the Liechtenstein family including Prince Franz Josef II, Princess Gina and Princess Elsa.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
St. Florin has also been the site of more happy princely occasions, like the weddings of Prince Hans-Adam and Princess Marie as well as Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie, for example.

Now you might have wondered by now, why we have mostly referred to St. Florin as a church instead of cathedral througout most of this post... Well, it did not become a cathedral until 1997. Prior to December of that year, Vaduz as well as the whole of Liechtenstein were part of the Swiss Diocese of Chur. On December 2, 1997, Pope John Paul II erected the Archdiocese of Vaduz (against the wish of the Prince, the parliament and a petition signed by about a third of all Catholics in Liechtenstein. For some 1,500 odd years, Vaduz had been part of the Diocese of Chur but the Vatican basically needed a new place for Bishop Wolfgang Haas, a Liechtensteiner by birth, to resolve tensions within the Swiss diocese.) In late December, the church was raised to the dignity of a cathedral and has since become known as the Kathedrale St. Florin.

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