“St. Stephen’s,” or, “wait, how DO you pluralize ‘Jesus’?”
I’m behind and getting more behind, but hopefully I can get some of this stuff written on my flight and get a bit less behind.1
Anyhow, our tour this week was to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the big ol’ church in the center of town. If you’ve been following along, you’ve already seen a picture of the outside at least once – it’s rather impressive.2
I’m actually going to go a bit out of order for this one. Usually I try to keep everything in chronological order, so the reader can follow along and have a nice sense of immersion.3 This time, though, I’m going to start with where we ended, because I love gothic architecture and I’d quite like to save the best for last.
So, without further ado, the photos:4
Our first photo, then, is from where we ended the day, in a church built by the Jesuit order, a few blocks from St. Stephen’s. It’s not as impressive in stature as the cathedral – in fact, there’s still a law on the books to ensure that St. Stephen’s stays the most impressive thing in the city center5 – but the folks who built it did some nice work with the paintings on the ceiling to make it feel like a larger space than it actually is.
Working our way back towards the cathedral itself, we meet Toothache Jesus. The name comes from a legend about a few students, rather worse for the wear at that late time of night,6 who, passing by, noticed that the statue looks like Jesus has a toothache.7 The next day, they all had to rush back to make their apologies – they’d all developed toothaches overnight.
Here we go, folks: this is the main spire of St. Stephen’s. As far as I’m aware, both the light and the dark portions are the same stone- it’s just that the dark stuff has been left as-is, while the light stone had the 900 years of soot pressure-washed off. The original plans for the cathedral called for two spires, and the base of the second is visible on the other side of the cathedral, but for some reason or another8 was never completed, instead being called with a Renaissance-style endpiece.9
If you look up after entering the cathedral10 you’ll be greeted with this nicely-backlit set of organ pipes.
I know it’s probably supposed to be a regal11 purple, but it just made me think of Maleficent. I can’t help it, irreverence is like 45% of my personality.
Now, one of the interesting things about the cathedral is the number of artistic periods it spans. In some areas, you can see the Romanesque inspirations,12 while others are clearly Gothic, and there’s a few others to be seen around the place. Personally, I found some of the carvings almost Baroque in their intricacy.13 Just imagine how long it took someone to carve this, by hand, from a single piece of stone.
Being a church, it’s practically required to have a bunch of carvings of the Jesus14 around. I quite liked the one on the right, in the photo above, but it was rather hard to get a picture of – if the statue were hanging lower, or the lights higher, it’d be beautifully placed, but that was unfortunately not the case.
To accompany all of the Jesuses15 around the place, there’s a few statues of the Madonna around.16
The actual altar up at the front of the cathedral is quite pretty, and backed by two of the only surviving stained glass windows from the Old Days. Unfortunately, most of the others were destroyed by Allied bombings during WWII, and were replaced with some… squares.17
As is proper, the man who made the church what it is has his own Final Resting Display Case up by the altar. Frederick III was a monk of a man- a vegetarian, tee-totaling, love-disdaining18 ruler. He’s also notable for having been one of the first documented cases of someone surviving an amputation in Europe – he lived a further three months after the surgery19 before passing away and being interred at St. Stephen’s. With his leg.20
And we’ll end on the gorgeously gothic vaulted ceilings. Seriously, look at that. I love it.
- Update: am writing this on the plane. I suppose it was technically possible to get my laptop out and use that to write, but for some reason it feels more fitting to use my phone for everything, so here I am, wearing out my thumbs. ↩
- This would be a link to that post, but plane. (Aside: I’m writing to keep myself from stressing about the incomplete Customs and Immigration form in my pocket, because as it turns out the Important Thing I Forgot While Packing this time was “the address where I’m staying.” Oh well, hopefully Heathrow will have wifi I can use to find out when I land. Or I’ll just make a very expensive phone call to find out. ↩
- That, or I’m just too lazy to reorder things in a coherent way. ↩
- I’ve just realized why doing this photo-heavy write-up on my phone is a Bad Plan- the way I move the images around (copy/paste in Ulysses) is just a bit too clunky to be comfortable on iOS. Oh well, I’m invested now. ↩
- Both Vienna law and the World Heritage Organization (or whatever their actual name is – you know what I mean, and I’m on a plane) have codified this. ↩
- The area around St. Stephen’s is the old University Quarter. It’s also got a rather impressive amount of bars and wine cellars, but I’m sure these facts are unrelated. ↩
- Personally, I thought he looked rather good considering the open wound in his chest, but that’s just me. ↩
- Either a lack of funding or a mishandled deal with the literal devil, depending on who you ask. I’m not sure which version I like better. ↩
- I think it was renaissance, anyways, but I don’t have my books available to check. ↩
- On a sunny day- the lighting inside consists of “we added some hanging fixtures but if it’s dark outside it’s dark inside” ↩
- Or “imperial,” I suppose ↩
- The easiest for the layman to spot would be the arches – rounded arches are Romanesque, while pointed ones are characteristic of the Gothic period. ↩
- A phrase that, in typing, made me feel so elitist that I think I’ve just been elected to the European Parliament. (Hahaha get it, it’s funny because the EU is imploding around me) ↩
- I’ve been waiting for someone from one of the three Christian colleges sharing our class spaces to call me out on the fact that I always refer to him as “the Jesus,” but no. Nothing. ↩
- Jesii? ↩
- No, not that Madonna. ↩
- I really can’t come up with anything better- they just reminded me of, like, a 1930s brick schoolhouse being awkwardly converted into a church. Don’t ask why, I don’t know. ↩
- His wife was recorded as saying, to their son, “if you ever act like your father I shall have to apologize for giving birth to you.” Or something like that – again with the “I can’t function without internet access” thing. ↩
- Undergone without anesthetic, because at the time anesthetic consisted of “here’s some booze, try not to watch,” and as I said before, he was Stone Cold Sober. ↩
- They checked, though using X-ray machines, because anything else would’ve been disrespectful, and also because scientists just like using X-ray machines. ↩