Franziskanerkirche - Franciscan Church
It would be impossible to imagine the Salzburg skyline without the Franciscan Church and its slender steeple. Architecturally, it consists of two parts: the original Romanesque nave of the basilica and the delicate Late Gothic chancel with star-ribbed vaulting which adjoins it. The first unique feature may be observed just inside the entrance: the so-called “Hand of Asylum”.
Lasting Impressions: The “Hand of Asylum”
The Franciscan Church doesn’t merely unite different styles ranging from Romanesque to modern, it also possesses countless impressive details. For example, its big church bell, the Marienglocke, plays an important supporting role in summer performances of “Jedermann” on Cathedral Square. And to the lower right of the entrance door, we find the so-called “Hand of Asylum”. Whosoever might touch it was granted admission to the church, regardless of their innocence or guilt.
The history of the Franciscan Church – just as that of Salzburg Cathedral – extends all the way back to the early days of Christianity in Salzburg. Both houses of worship are remarkable because of their striking contrasts: on the one hand the cathedral, the dominating baroque church of the bishops, on the other the Franciscan Church, a slender Gothic church of the common citizenry; the cathedral, a structure intended to embody the stature of the church as an institution, and the Franciscan Church, a site for silent contemplation.
The Franciscan Church is presumably even older than the cathedral, its construction ascribed to St. Virgil. And like practically all of Salzburg’s houses of worship, it was also ravaged by fire. Its reconstruction at the turn of the 12th century also served as a symbol of Salzburg’s emergent merchant sector, further amplified at the beginning of the 15th century, when the self-confident middle classes possessed the means to renovate the church. The magnificent hall chancel is an architectural masterpiece, creating the imposing contrast between light and dark which makes the Franciscan Church so unique.
The Treasures of the Church Interior
The high altar, designed in 1709/1710 by Fischer von Erlach, contains a “Madonna with Child” by Michael Pacher. Over the years, the ruling archbishops undertook various alterations to the Franciscan Church, including addition of a connecting walkway to the Residenz installed by Wolf Dietrich. The interior features nine different chapels, four of which were endowed by different archbishops.