Holy Cross (Mindelaltheim)
Holy Cross (Unseres Herrn Ruh) is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage and cemetery church in Mindelaltheim, in the Bavarian-Swabian district of Günzburg. The history of the sacred building goes back to the installation of a crucifix in 1604, which led to the creation of a pilgrimage site and the associated construction of a church building in 1698. The present shape of the cruciform church is the result of a remodelling and extension by the rococo master builder Joseph Dossenberger the year 1753-54. The 29-part fresco programme produced at this time is by the Günzburg painter Anton Enderle. The history of the church during the last two centuries was marked by periods of dilapidation and closure, as well as by a fundamental renovation in 1986-1990. The monument is one of 28 cultural assets of the district protected by the Hague Convention.
In the choir there is an eight-part crucifixion group, the oldest figures of which are dated to the first half of the 17th century. Also of art historical interest is a late Gothic seated Madonna with the Child Jesus.
The name of the church “zum heil[igen] Kreuz” or “Holy Cross can be found in documents since the 19th century. Sporadically, namely for the year 1785, the title “beim heiligen Kreuz auf unsers Herrn Wiesen” is documented. According to a death book from 1710, the place of pilgrimage was apparently called “Kirche zu Herrgott Ruhe [sic]” at that time. This dedication appears as an epithet “Unseres Herrn Ruh” (Our Lord‘s Rest) respectively “Ruhe” also in some more recent publications. The church is called in the vernacular by means of the Swabian diminutive Kirchle. This is also the origin of the name of the Kirchlesweg, which runs south of the sacred building. Although this is a church in the sense of canon law, it is sometimes listed as a chapel.
The church, which faces roughly northeast, is located on the southern outskirts of the village of Mindelaltheim, at the foot of a hill which nestles in a wooded valley, the Schelmengrube. “In former times” Heilig Kreuz stood completely alone. The church was situated at the intersection of the so-called Mühlweg, which extended from Dürrlauingen to the Riedmühle, and the road to Mehrenstetten or Konzenberg. This still exists, but with a changed routing. Today it unites southwest of the rococo building as state road 2025 with the district road GZ 11, which has been christened Dossenbergerstraße. In addition, the cemetery of the village, which was established in 1966, borders the church in the northeast.
|1604||Erection of effigies|
|before 1615||Construction of a chapel|
|1698||Extension by Albrecht|
|1753/54||Extension by Dossenberger|
|1986–90||Last big renovation|
Beginnings since the 16th or 17th century
According to a 1910 treatise by the then Mindelaltheim parish priest, Anton Christoph von Rehlingen, keeper of the Dominican convent of St. Katharina in Augsburg, under whose rule Mindelaltheim then stood, had “a devotional crucifix image along with Mary, John and St. Dismas erected in the open air” at the edge of the Schelmengrube on 20 May 1604. The reason for this was the safety of travellers. Anton von Steichele, however, speaks of “images of the crucified Saviour and the two thieves”. This first crucifixion group was soon attributed “miraculous properties” and therefore became the destination of pilgrims.
There is, however, a document from 1558 in which disputes between the communities of Mindelaltheim and Dürrlauingen are reported, the subject of which is an image column on the Mühlweg. This corresponds to the approximate location of the statues donated by Anton von Rehlingen, even though the exact relationship of the two traditions remains unclear. Despite this problem of classification, Bent Jörgensen asks about the connection between the erection of the portraits together with the pilgrimage that developed, as well as the failed attempts to install a Protestant preacher in Mindelaltheim in 1544 and 1546. The reformed imperial city of Augsburg came into conflict with the bishop of Augsburg and the Roman-German king, to whom the margraviate of Burgau was subject.
Extensions until 1754
By 1614 at the latest a roof was builtaccording to Steichele a small chapel, by Anna Ziegler, then prioress of the monastery, was built over the mentioned images. Ziegler also furnished the new building with further pictures. By order of the then Mindelaltheim priest Georg Bachmann, an extension of the same to a church with nave and choir then took place, from 23 January to 23 August 1698, so that masses could be said there. The work was carried out under the Vorarlberg master builder Jakob Albrecht (* 1670) from Au, who also built the collegiate church of Obermedlingen, and amounted to 280 gulden and 28 kreuzer. Already at this time a brotherhood existed in connection with Heilig Kreuz.
Just half a century later, however, the church had to be enlarged once again. One of the reasons was the large number of brotherhood members. The parish priest of Mindelaltheim, Franz Xaver Denkh, entrusted the then 32-year-old master builder from Wettenhausen, Joseph Dossenberger, who was to have a decisive influence on the Swabian Baroque Corner through his work, with the construction of the church for 100 gulden. The work began on 16 June 1753 and ended on 14 September of the following year, whereby the costs this time amounted to 1559 gulden and 46 kreuzer. The fresco was painted by the Günzburg painter Anton Enderle for 172 gulden. The originator of the stucco work is unknown, Dossenberger himself may have designed it. Although the construction work was completed as early as 1754, the consecration did not take place until 17 September 1782 by an auxiliary bishop from Augsburg.
Maintenance and renovation
From the end of the Old Kingdom to the year 1986
|Selection of repairs and renewals 1701-1907|
|1701||Damage to the windows due to a thunderstorm|
|Second half of the 18th century||Installation of a new tabernacle, new bells and a new organ|
|May 1819||Re-roofing of the church tower|
|1883||Repair of the organ|
|1885||Re-roofing of the church tower|
|1895–96||Repair of masonry, roof and tower|
|1904||Restoration of paintings and stuccowork by the Augsburg painter Eugen Bartl|
|1907||Renovation of the high altar by Alois Haugg of Ottobeuren and Simon Hörmann of Babenhausen|
During the wars of the coalition French soldiers broke into the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche several times. According to the records of Ignaz Steichele, the parish priest of Mindelaltheim at that time, the empty tabernacle was opened by force, but no significant thefts were made. In 1780 petition processions were forbidden in the diocese of Augsburg, nevertheless “pilgrimage and brotherhood” still flourished at the end of the 18th century, so reports at least a church chronicle. Already in 1806, however, in the course of secularization, the Holy Cross Church was to be torn down “as dispensable for the benefit of the parish church foundation”. Thanks to the people of Mindelaltheim, the sacred building was preserved for private worship on Sundays and holidays by raising an estimated 350 gulden. In 1889 the church was – allegedly incorrectly – closed because of dilapidation. In 1907 the parish priest of the time wanted to revive the pilgrimage by building a Lourdes grotto, but he died before he could realize his plan. Three years later, his successor complained that many of the furnishings listed in an inventory from 1806 had disappeared.
Due to danger of collapse, the church was closed a second time in 1950. Already a few months earlier, the then Mindelaltheim priest Max Rimmele wrote in his diary: “Collection for Kreuzkapelle […] The chapel is falling apart: Roof broken, the window panes completely shattered.” Despite considerations to demolish the church or to convert it into a mortuary, a one-year exterior renovation took place in 1953-54 and finally the interior was renewed in 1968.
Between 17 December 1979 and 9 January 1980, a total of three burglaries took place in the Church of the Holy Cross, during which a chalice, a reredos painting, and four figures were stolen.
Since the renovation of 1986
Until the beginning of the “very strictly historic[ly] renovation” on 24 April 1986, the church served almost only for funeral services; the new cemetery of Mindelaltheim had been laid out northwest of the sacred building in 1966. At that time, however, there was dampness in the masonry, as a drainage of the masonry had failed. Mould was discovered in the sacristy, the frescoes were partly falling from the ceiling and the roof beams were threatening to collapse.
The work was initiated by a two-month building dry-out with partial replacement of the foundation. This was followed, for example, by the laying of a brick floor, as well as a colourful redesign of the interior and exterior façades. Under the newly installed gallery, an iron grille separates the west of the nave from the rest of the church. In addition, some of the furnishings were restored, and the modern tabernacle and popular altar were placed in the chancel. The reopening of the church took place on September 15 and 16, 1990, at which time the Bishop of Augsburg Josef Stimpfle consecrated the altar. The coordination of the church renovation, including public relations, was taken over by a support group. From 1986 to 2004 a total of 600,000 euros was invested in renovations, almost a third of which came from donations.
Today, the rococo building is used for church services during the summer months instead of the Mindelaltheim parish church, as the lack of heating is of no importance at this time. The only exceptions are funerals, the feast of All Saints and – due to the thematic orientation of the church – the liturgy of Good Friday.
Building history and parts of the building
The present nave and gabled aisle to the west probably correspond to the church building of 1698. The tower, sitting on a curved gable, consists of a quadrangular and an octagonal section – the latter with pilasters – and an onion dome, which is terminated by a double cross.
A portico to the west covers the entrance to the nave, which may have been created as late as 1754. As a single-level elevation, bricks form the base of the square building, which is opened on all four sides by basket arches, so that the wooden, double-leaf church door fits in on the west. Gable and pediment cornices project from the façade. The latter are at the level of the eaves and are also covered by tiles to the east, where they also terminate two corner pilasters with plinths. In 1953 or 1954 the omen was demolished and rebuilt.
Dossenberger usually re-functioned the pre-existing church as a new choir loft when expanding churches, and added a new nave to the west. However, this was not possible in Mindelaltheim because of the marshy ground and the road leading to Konzenberg. Therefore, a thematically fitting cross shape was built to the east, “which occupies a special position among Dossenberger’s church buildings”. After demolishing the old choir, he added a roughly square crossing with two three-sided “smoothly modelled” cross arms to the existing rectangular nave Transverse arms. The crossing passes through a basket arch, which seems to be cut out of the wall, into the narrowed choir with a flat oval end. The latter is raised by a convex step in comparison with the other parts. Furthermore, the transverse arms and the choir are approximately the same length and thus recall the three-cornered architecture of the Gothic period. The builder additionally erected a two-storey extension to the southern choir. This has a wall opening to the choir in the upper storey, as well as an entrance in the east, which is bricked up today. This so-called hermit’s dwelling is used today as a sacristy.
Karl Bader considers that Dossenberger may have integrated a twelfth Stations of the Cross – which had existed since 1748 and was roofed over, with a crucifixion group to the east of the church – into his extension as a chancel end. However, as this was probably not quite parallel to the old building, problems arose with regard to the laying of the foundations and the roof construction. He sees evidence for the hypothesis, among other things, in the remains of tendril paintings, which can only be found in the area of the choir.
Exterior facade and roof
The first eleven stations of a Stations of the Cross are indicated by rectangular niches inscribed on the outer wall of the church. Three recesses are on each long side of the nave, two each on the terminating sides of the cross arms, and finally one niche is on the apex of the chancel oval. The Way of the Cross begins at the southwest corner of the sacred building, then heads northeast, encircles the chancel, and then runs along the north front of the building to the northwest of the nave before continuing inside the church. The crucifixion group in the choir represents the twelfth station, the two last stations are referred to by the side altars. The conception of the Way of the Cross goes back to Dossenberger, who had the indentations partly knocked out of the old building and provided the eleven niches with pictures, which have been lost. During the last renovation, the stations that had been bricked up at the time were uncovered again and given their present appearance. A Stations of the Cross is already documented for the year 1746 (or 1748) which also had eleven stations outside. In 1825 a Stations of the Cross was installed inside the church, and another, about which no information is available, in 1903.
Between the sacristy and the south arm of the church one finds a conch which holds a life-size dungeon shrine. Above it there was originally an exterior pulpit, which was indicated by painting work during the last renovation. In addition, the nave, which was already built in 1698, has a plinth, which is missing from the Dossenberger building. The colour design of the façade does not correspond to the historical original.
The church has a conical roof termination in the east, the eaves of which are higher than those of the angular hipped roofs of the cross arms and the gable roof in the west. Also a saddle brook possesses the small open porch. In general, the church roof rests on an “extremely complicated and dense” roof construction.
A feature of the 1753/54 rebuilding is “richly moulded”elongated window pairs. The grouping single windows are separated by a narrow bar, which acts as an axis of symmetry. A total of three such pairs can be counted, one at each end of the transverse arms, as well as another on the north side of the chancel, although its southern counterpart was not realized due to the construction of the hermit’s dwelling. Dossenberger mostly designed window groups consisting of two long windows and a smaller opening above them, which refer to the Holy Trinity. In Mindelaltheim, such a third window is only indicated in the interior by stucco work, which is probably due to the low height of the church. The Albrecht building is divided by four single windows, which are of similar size and simpler form than their later correlates. They can be seen on the north and south sides of the nave, where they form two horizontal axes. On the west front of the church four small windows give a square arrangement. Windows of similar size are also found on the south side of the sacristy.
During the last renovation, the windows of the sacred building were renewed.
The church’s first bells, two examples of different sizes, came from Augsburg in 1699. The smaller bell featured an image of Christ crucified, the larger one the Archangel Michael and St Catherine. This was probably a representation of St. Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of the Dominican convent in Augsburg, to which the village of Mindelaltheim belonged until secularisation. In 1778 new bells were built by Anton Weingarten from Lauingen for 76 thalers and 17 kreuzers. The bells were recast in 1835 and 1883. At the time of Anton von Steichele’s description of the diocese of Augsburg, they were inaccessible. During the First World War, one bell – probably the only one in the sanctuary – was removed for melting down. In the German bell atlas of 1967 the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche is not mentioned, today, however, there is a peal in the gable rider.
Wall structure and design
An “[e]legan pilaster arrangement” shapes the interior of the church, in which sixteen buttresses are distributed. In many cases they appear to be buttresses on the arches of the crossing:
- Single pilasters are placed in the abutments of the nave arch.
- In the bows to the cross-arms, one meets them paired in the east, in the west however individually.
- Two pilasters each flank the window groups of the transverse arms.
- Two pairs serve to frame the stuccoed fresco in the chancel end.
Karl Koepf draws attention to the perspective design of the latter pilasters, whose capital, frieze, and entablature slope at an angle. For Anton H. Konrad, the wide spatial impression of the church generally lies in the convex-concave conception of the columns together with the ceiling conception. Standing on curved bases, the pilasters are decorated in places by gilded, rocaille capitals, which show “free, dissolved forms of the mature rococo”. Furthermore, convex wall pieces between the transverse arms and the choir, as well as niche-like protrusions with oval arches behind the side altars, vary the interior architecture of Holy Cross.
The colour scheme was undertaken as part of the most recent renovation, following investigations of findings. Mainly white, the sacred space is accentuated in some places by paintings, some of which were not visible before 1986. In the crossing, for example, there are depictions of masonry in orange on the pendentives, as well as ochre-coloured cross or floral ornaments on the arched reveals. According to Alois Wollhaupter, the interior of Heilig Kreuz is reminiscent of the chapel Zu den Vierzehn Nothelfern in Dischingen, which was expanded by Dossenberger in 1758.
Ceiling design and fresco
The church is generally remarkably low, but its height increases roughly from the transepts to the crossing. Dossenberger modified the flat ceiling of the nave, of whose original design plaster remains were found under the coping of the wall by a cove. Similar ceilings close off the transverse arms. The crossing, on the other hand, has a flat dome with cornice over pendentives, the choir has a dome-like flat ceiling with coving and also a delicate cornice.
Holy Cross is dominated by five major and 24 minor frescoes (the latter are possibly also worked al secco ) by the Günzburg painter Anton Enderle (* 11 June 1700; † 1761). Besides Mindelaltheim, the sacred buildings in Tapfheim and Haldenwang, as well as the churches of the women in his home town of Günzburg, are counted among his main works. The same applies to Waldkirch, where Enderle and Dossenberger already worked together in 1945.
Most of the work is decorated with jagged or curved and sometimes gilded stucco forms and explained by Latin – in the nave by German – Bible quotations. The smaller paintings are almost entirely monochrome in earth or violet tones. They share with the main frescoes their thematic reference to the Holy Cross or to the death of Christ on the cross, which is partly clarified by typologies or allegories. According to Cornelia Kemp, Enderle used engravings by the Biberbach priest Anton Ginther as a model. The frescoes were largely renovated in 1968, but some were only rediscovered in the course of the last major renovation at the end of the 1980s. The fact that some motifs were painted over in the course of the 20th century is suggested by Rudolf Weser’s description in 1917 of motifs that are no longer recognizable today. The two chronograms in the eastern choir and nave are a special feature. If one adds their golden letters in the sense of Roman numerals, one obtains in each case the number 1754, i.e. the year of completion of the church expansion by Dossenberger.
|A||Chorus: glorification of the Crucified as a fountain of grace through the four continents
Christ bleeding from the five wounds is enthroned above the globe. Below him, personifications from (from left to right) Africa, Europe, America and Asia venerate the Crucified. The conch shell refers to the “change of essence of the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist”. In the upper half of the picture the three divine virtues are depicted. The Crucified, symbolizing faith, is flanked by two angels. The one on the left symbolizes love with a wreath of flaming hearts, and the one on the right symbolizes hope with an anchor.
|B||Cross: Exaltation of the Cross – Emperor Herakleios carries the cross to Jerusalem
After the Persians stole the Holy Cross from Jerusalem in 614, the Byzantine emperor Herakleios succeeded in recovering the relic some 15 years later. The fresco depicts the legend according to which the gates of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre inexplicably closed when the emperor, wearing a ceremonial robe and crown, wanted to carry the cross back there. Only when he took off his vestments after the request of Patriarch Zacharias, he could enter.
In Enderle’s painting Zacharias is in the centre of the picture, foregrounded by Herakleios with the cross, a putto and servants with crosier and imperial crown on the right, and other figures, including a mounted soldier, on the left. The bishop points to a group of people at the lower edge. It is possible that this is a representation of miraculous healings described in the legend. In the upper half of the picture, a band of clouds and another putto are visible below the eye of God.
The painting had been whitewashed over at an unknown date and partially uncovered during the First World War. A partial reconstruction took place in 1919, as parts of the fresco had fallen from the ceiling.
|C||North Arm: The Tenth Plague – Death of All Firstborns
The fresco shows an angel with his flaming sword in the centre of the picture, killing the first-born sons of the Egyptians. On the right, Israelites are seen smearing their doors with the blood of the sacrificial lamb so that the plague will pass them by. The lamb, in turn, lies next to it, slaughtered, inside the house. The tents in the background probably point to the now beginning Exodus(Ex 12,21-31EU). The biblical passage can be interpreted as a prefiguration of the sacrificial death of Christ as the Lamb of God. The accompanying text reads, “Celebravit pascha et sanguinis effusionem Heb.11.28“; Approximately, “Because of faith he performed the passover to Moses and sprinkled [the doorposts] with blood(Heb. 11:28EU).“
According to the Second Book of Moses, God punished his sinful people during the Exodus – note the tent camp in the background – with serpents, whose bites victimized many people; depicted in the lower half of the painting. Moses, however, in the fresco with pointing staff, he commanded a serpent figure to be fixed on a pole. Any Israelite who looked at this idol could not be harmed by the serpent’s bites(Num 21:6-9EU). The brazen serpent in the center of the picture reminds of that form of representation of the cross which shows it empty, merely draped with a cloth. The accompanying text above the painting also establishes the connection with the New Testament experience of salvation: “sicut Moÿses exaltavit serpentem in deserto joh.3.14 ” – “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [so shall the Son of Man be lifted up](Jn 3:14-15EUThe fresco may have been inspired by a model by Anton Ginther.
|E||Nave: Finding of the cross by Empress Helena
Probably in 326 and 327, Helena, the mother of the late Roman Emperor Constantine, was researching in Palestine for the Holy Cross and, according to legend, actually found three wooden crosses. The cross of Christ could be identified as such because it resurrected the deceased when touched. The fresco captures precisely this scene: in front of a mountainous landscape, along with a section of a building on the left and a distant city silhouette on the right, two figures erect the holy relic. Next to it Helena in splendid dress with servants; these wear the empress’s train and hold the crown and sceptre ready on a cushion. Above, two putti float on a cloud (not visible in the picture). At the lower edge of the picture some dead people can be seen in their coffins, who – now brought to life – partly turn their hands to the cross.
Secondary frescoes and emblems
|Figure||Topic||Accompanying text||german Bible references||possible submission Anton Ginther|
|1||The miracle of the transformation of the water of Mara to fresh water||Lignum Dulce Facit gustari ut possit amarum. Exod. 15 V. 25||Ex 15,25EU|
|2||Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac; Since Rudolf Weser does not mention an eastern choir fresco in his 1917 description of the fresco, the reference text he mentions may have been painted here. This read: “Proclaim to him what David sang when his prophetic song resounded, proclaim to all the nation: From the wood God’s Son shall reign.”||Gen 22:1-19EU|
|3||Moses beats water out of the rock, which is equated with Christ in First Corinthians.||Percussit Petram et Fluxerunt aquae Psal 77||Ps 78:20EU, 1 Cor 10:4EU|
|4||Christ hanging on the cross in a tree, behind him is seen the snake with the apple. By 1917 this fresco had been whitewashed over.||Unde mors inde vita|||
|5||An eagle lies with outspread wings on a rock, a second swoops down to it. The painting is not mentioned in a 1917 description. Instead, two motifs come into question for this position, as well as for that of the secondary fresco No. 7. On the one hand, the subject: “The Lamb of God on the mysterious beech, from his wound his blood flows in a chalice.” On the other hand the “slaughtered Lamb of Revelation.”|
|6||In the centre of the picture, a woman lies on a sickbed; above her, the cross in a frame containing apothecary jars. The woman is surrounded by people.||aIn MIteL DeIner SeeLen Kanst aLLhIer erwöhLen|
|7||The sacrificial lamb on the altar; See secondary fresco no. 5||1 Cor 5:7EU|||
|8||Cross with the Arma Christi, viz. crown of thorns, lance, and hyssop branch, and two winged hearts, one of which hangs on the cross.||Trahe me post te Cant. 1.3||Hld 1.4EU|||
|9||The scouts with the Caleb grape||According to a 1917 fresco description, one fresco depicted Christ crucified, the other the sacrifice of Isaac.||Num 13:24EU|
|11||Pelican feeds its young with his own blood.||Ut Vitam habeant Joh. 10. v. 10||John 10:1oEU|
|12||Jonah is spat out by the whale.||Domitat iura Sepulchri Math: 12. v. 40||Jonah 2:11EU|
|13||Sun over landscape, crescent moon on right. The fresco is not mentioned by Rudolf Weser 1917.||exaltatus trahit joh 12. 32||John 12:32EU|
|14||Judith with the head of Holofernes||Jdt 15EU|
|15||Sailing ship at low tide, on the cabin roof the monstrance or Noah’s Ark||surgit surgentibus undis Gn. 8.||Gen 8EU|
|16||A hand from a cloud points to a clock on a column, two skulls act as its weights. The fresco is not mentioned by Rudolf Weser 1917.||Sit hora Secunda.|
|17||At left, a sick man in a bed; a cross floats in the sky in the upper center of the image. Three rays go from the cross towards the sick person. In a description of the fresco from 1917, the Church of the Holy Cross was still depicted in the background.||In the cross alone shall the sick be healed|
|18||Chronogram||CrVX DIVIna In IVbILeo VeneratIonI In renoVato teMpLo eXposIta|
|19||Christ is enthroned with the holy cross in the upper center of the painting. To the left are a burning building and the Grim Reaper in the form of a skeleton. The latter points to the right, where a djinn-like figure hovers before the open mouth of a dragon of hell. Inside the dragon are people. Rudolf Weser described a different theme in 1917: “[O]ver a house and trees struck by lightning, the cross appears”. According to this, the fresco was explained with the text: “Because I prayed to the cross, my house and farm were saved”.||Grave and plaster do not help whom the misery of death touches|
|20||David with the head of Goliath; The latter lies beheaded in armour and with weapons on the right. In the background a multitude of tents of the same kind, presumably of a military camp.||How David has besieged the Golliath. 1. Reg: C. 17. the Creūtz the enemy.||1 Sam 17:51EU|
|21||Hand from the clouds puts a stop to Hydra.||With the Creutz will overcome all my enemy and SinRezeptionden.|
|22||The Psallating David; In 1917 the fresco had partially fallen off.||Praise the Lord with timpani, and with cymbals with harps, and organs|
|23||Horned animal with tail (scapegoat) carries animal heads on its back. A fresco description from 1917 explains the following motif: “[T]wo human figures in a dungeon hole surrounded by flames of fire (purgatory).”||You, like me, trucked by your souls, you also wind yourself over|||
|24||St. Francis Xavier next to a crucifix. To the left a devil or demon is fleeing, as well as followers of the Protestant Faith. The sky in the background of the picture is full of crosses, most of them turned. To the right, in a separate panel, a ship in a storm near a rock. According to a 1917 description, a religious man kneels before the cross; on the right, “a church in a ship is depicted in safety.” ||Behold the kingdom of the Lord. flee all enemies from afar|
Anton Enderle takes a back seat to the works of his more famous nephew and pupil Johann Baptist Enderle, as “he set no new standards”. In 1895 Anton von Steichele assessed the frescoes and stucco of the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche as “insignificant”. Rudolf Weser’s judgment of 1917 is characterized by ambivalence: “The individual pictures are painted very unevenly. For all their beauty and for all their richness of content, they just show all the weaknesses of the master of the work.” In 1973, Karl Koepf saw the paintings, together with their stucco frames, as the cause of the “cheerful, festive mood” of the interior. Cornelia Kemp compared the frescoes of Mindelaltheim with the Biberbach cycle in 1981 and stated that they did not come close to the latter and brought “few new ideas”. Anton H. Konrad considers the frescoes to be “well solved in terms of color”, even if he ascribes to Enderle a rather “low art of invention”.
Floor and pews
Whereas today the pews are placed in two rows directly on the floor and only in the nave, before 1986 they extended to the chancel on a flat wooden platform. In addition, chairs are now placed in the western section of the transept arms. At the height of the pilgrimage, probably only a small central block was seated with pews, in consideration of processions and the large number of confessionals. As they probably reflect the original state of the building, bricks were laid as flooring during the last renovation instead of the previous Solnhofen limestone slabs.
Gallery and organ
After the church’s gallery was removed in 1968, a new building was constructed according to plans by Augsburg architect Alois Zach during the last renovation in 1988, which differed in design from the Dossenberger original. A new organ was placed on it in 1993. This is equipped with 8 stops on a manual and pedal. Since the end of the 18th century an organ with 6 stops is documented. In 1883 this was repaired, but 21 years later it was removed due to its poor condition.
|3.||Principal||4′||7.||Mixture||1′ (3 f.)|
Crucifixion group with tabernacle and popular altar
The twelfth station of the Stations of the Cross in the chancel – in place of the high altar – is an eight-piece crucifixion group on a rock-like base in front of an often over-painted view of Jerusalem with angels on clouds. Before 1754 the church had a high altar of stucco plaster with an image of the Carrying of Christ from the Cross, the outline of which was found in the crossing in 1904. A votive picture from 1797 shows only the crucified, the thieves and a long-haired figure on a four-columned altar. In 1907 a neo-baroque high altar was installed, which was replaced in 1968 by a pedestal for the crucifixion group, on which, however, the neo-baroque ornaments were partially used.
|Individual contemplation of the crucifixion group|
Since the renovation of 1986 to 1990, the figures have been placed on a modern substructure, which functions as a tabernacle, and is made of grey Brazilian marble. The popular altar of the same type replaced a predecessor altar from 1968. Both elements – tabernacle and substructure – were made by the sculptor Egon Stöckle from Hohenfurch. For Werner Schell, at that time head of the Diocesan Construction Office and Art Department of the Diocese of Augsburg, the substructure symbolizes not only Golgotha, but also the rock as a symbol of God “as the center and keystone of the world, as the foundation of the Blessed Sacrament,” and not least the tomb of Christ, as well as all tombs in general.
While the crucifixion group corresponds to the twelfth station of the Stations of the Cross, the reredos paintings of the side altars (dating from 1782) represent the 13th and 14th stations respectively. Like many other furnishings, parts of the side altars were removed from the church in 1968 because a renovation could not be carried out due to lack of money. Photographs from the seventies show only the paintings mentioned above with the Stipites, but in reversed positions. The altars in their entirety were only put up again in 1990 in a renewed state. Whether the reredos painting of the south altar, which was stolen in 1979 or 1980, reappeared in this context or was replicated, remains open.
The following is a tabular overview of the furnishings and paintings of both side altars:
|Southern side altar – 13th station of the Stations of the Cross (Lamentation of Christ)|
The Risen Christ: In front of a sky view, Christ, clothed in the shroud, holds the cross. The blood flowing from the stigmata collects in a basin at his feet. The painting is thus reminiscent of the church’s choir fresco. In the foreground a red curtain divided into two parts is blowing.
97.5 cm ×161 cm
|Vesper painting: Mary weeps over the lifeless body of her son, whom she grasps under his arms. She herself sits before the cross-post, which forms the central axis of the painting. Symbolizing Mary’s pain, seven swords are piercing her breast. In front of the two figures is a bowl with a sponge and the titulus. Under a gloomy, cloudy sky, a mountain landscape with the city of Jerusalem rises in the background.|
|Equipment||Among others, busts of St. Joachim – recognizable by the two doves – and probably of St. Anne, two reliquaries and an image of Mary with a wreath of stars in a shrine.|
|Stipes||presumably a mockery of Christ|
|Northern side altar – 14th Station of the Cross (Entombment of Christ)|
Stigmata and Arma Christi: Two putti spread out a paper in the middle of which the burning, thorn-crowned heart of Jesus is depicted. It is surrounded by the pierced limbs of Christ, which – like the heart – are bleeding. Spread out in front of the paper are instruments of suffering, namely (from left to right) Pontius Pilate’s water jug and bowl, the reed sceptre with which Jesus was mocked, a club, a lantern, nails, pliers and hammer, a garment, and the scourging column with whip and rod. In the background the lance and sponge are erected in front of the cross of Christ, against which a ladder also leans.
97.5 cm ×161 cm
Entombment: In a rock tomb, the body of Jesus is laid on a stone table with the help of a white cloth. Through the entrance to the cave, one can see Golgotha with two crosses in front of the city of Jerusalem. Two putti hover over the deceased and five accompanying figures surround him, among them Mary. A water jug and bowl are placed in the foreground.
Among other things, busts of Igantius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, two reliquaries, and a golden cross with cross particles in a shrine.
probably crowning with thorns of Christ
Late Gothic seated Madonna with infant Jesus
This is a seated figure about 103 centimetres tall, made of lime wood and hollowed out on the back. The “remarkable work” was made by Jörg Stein, a sculptor of the late Gothic Ulm school, around 1470. Originally, the folds of the robe were probably still hanging over the base. During the Baroque period, the infant Jesus was dressed and transformed into a jointed doll. In the 19th century it was painted over in blue and transported to the wayside shrine in the parish forest, where it remained until about 1950. At this time, the Mindelaltheim Madonna was finally restored and received a crown and sceptre, as well as a new hand for Mary and the baby Jesus respectively. The limbs of the figure, which is today in the south arm of the Holy Cross Church, were made immobile again.
The priest responsible for the first church building is said to have been buried in its chancel. His epitaph was still mentioned around 1800, but at that time only a chalice could be identified on the stone. Already in 1910 the gravestone had disappeared. Its inscription is said to have read, “Here rests the reverend and well-born M. G. Bachmann, 42 years pastor here, builder of this chapel and founder of the Brotherhood of the Agony of Christ, first president, died at the age of 65.” On the west wall of the south arm is the tombstone of one of his successors – the builder of the church in 1754 – with the following tribute: “Here lies buried Xaver Denkh, 16 years pastor here, zealot of souls and the honor of Jesus Christ, promoted the brotherhood, expanded and restored the chapel, † on May 23, 1762.”
Former interior pulpit and image of the Good Shepherd
During the last major renovation, the octagonal interior pulpit between the chancel and the south arm was removed. This was of wood, marbled and displayed five images of saints, including a pope, bishop and friar. Dated circa 1700, it probably came from the Albrecht building and was considered too large, as well as stylistically inappropriate. The pulpit ceiling was a more recent reconstruction. Today, only the door leading from the sacristy into the pulpit still exists, and is marked by a painting of the Good Shepherd with the banner “Und sie Werden Meine Stimm Hören. Joan : 10” (John 10 LUT) is adorned.
Since 1809 a Holy Sepulchre is attested in Mindelaltheim, probably in 1882 its revision took place. The present tomb was made in 1913 by the master carpenter Georg Saumweber in Günzburg for 522 marks and was electrified three years later. Included in the price are painting works by Paul Kronwitter – also from Günzburg – and the Munich Max Vogt. Not set up since the immediate post-war period, it was found again in an attic at the end of the 20th century and repaired with the help of donations.
It is a scenery tomb, about five metres high, which is a kind of building cut-out with four columns, and in the centre of which is a place for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. In the substructure of the cenotaph lies the actual tomb, whose Christ figure, however, is estimated to be much older than 1913. In addition to the arched cobbler’s spheres, the tomb is framed by backdrops depicting, for example, palm trees, angels and Roman soldiers. Currently, an erection takes place every two years during Holy Week.
In the early 1990s, during the renovation of the Mindelaltheim rectory, a flag of the Brotherhood of the Agony of Christ from the 19th century was found. The flag on display in the church represents a faithful replica of this original example made in 2009, as its renovation was no longer possible. However, metal parts (including the cross), flagpole and tassels could be reused. The imitation, made of green brocade, shows a medallion of Joseph of Nazareth on its front, as well as the Nomen Sacrum on the back, and measures 2 by 1.3 meters. The costs of the new production, which could be consecrated on 12 June 2009, amounted to approximately 6000 euros. At the moment the flag is attached to one of the front pews of the church.
Prisoner saviour in the outer niche
Between the south arm and the chancel is a conch containing a life-size figure of the dungeon healer. The unbiblical depiction shows the thorn-crowned Christ, clothed only in a loincloth, with a nimbus of the cross, as he stands covered with wounds, chained to a scourging column. The statue represents a late work by the artist Matthäus Bayer (* 1911; † 1990) from Heufeld. The latter imitated the original figure – which was stolen – on the basis of descriptions. An iron grille protects the niche in which masonry has been pictorially indicated.
To the works of art listed, one might add others. On the walls are statues representing, for example, St. Paul, St. Thecla, St. Anthony, St. Igantius of Loyola, St. Aloisius, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Nepomuk. Many of these saints are associated with the veneration of the Holy Cross. Other noteworthy furnishings are two oil paintings in the two transverse arms of the church, which depict the motifs of Christ at restand the dungeon healer and the dungeon healer respectively. Furthermore, there is a late Gothic vesper painting near the entrance portal. Two old cupboards belonging to each other are located on the upper floor of the sacristy. According to Karl Bader, the rich furnishings of the church can be traced back to the 365-year affiliation with the Augsburg Dominican convent of St. Katharina.
In addition to the aforementioned Baroque putti and a reredos painting, a wooden 18th-century scourge shrine, approximately 1.3 metres tall, was stolen in thefts in 1979 and 1980, although its scourge column and chains remained in the church. A baroque candelabrum angel also disappeared. The 30 to 40 centimetre tall figure was multi-coloured (except for the gilded wings) and carried a cornucopia as a candlestick. A gilded chalice from 1672 was also reported missing.
|Illustrations of further equipment|
– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
The church as a place of faith
In his 1910 treatise on the Church of the Holy Cross, the then Mindelaltheim priest Julius Pröbstle describes the importance of the same as a pilgrimage church, especially during the 18th century. Not only the enlargements of the church building, but also votive tablets and offerings, seven confessionals, the holding of out-of-town weddings, as well as the existence of an outside pulpit speak for a great popularity among the faithful. Until the first half of the 20th century, however, processions from surrounding villages made regular pilgrimages to the church. Most of the votive tablets were lost due to the interior renovation carried out in 1953, and today only a few copies remain, which are placed on the northern wall of the north arm. In some contrast to this, Ludwig Dorn classifies the Holy Cross Church as a “former, localized, now departed[…]” pilgrimage site.
The Brotherhood Of The Agony Of Christ
Father Georg Bachmann founded the Brotherhood of the Good Death between 1668 and 1698, which was later renamed the Brotherhood of the Agony of Christ. In any case, a papal confirmation, including a plenary indulgence, from Innocent XII is preserved from the year 1698. Allegedly already under his pontificate the brotherhood had about 4000 members. Similar to other places of pilgrimage, it was an association of catholic men and women, whose aim – according to a letter of 1818 – was “to give due thanks to the Saviour who suffers and dies for love of us”, as well as “to ask him to help us in all our needs, concerns and anxieties, but especially in our fear of death, so that we may enjoy the fruits of his bitter suffering and death in heaven after a good death, in which everything depends” To this end, the brotherhood recommended to its members regulations for their prayer and devotional life. The Brotherhood continued to exist after the Second World War, but no precise information is known about its end.
Certainly from 1707 to 1793 there were hermits living at Holy Cross, some of whom belonged to the Augustinian order. During the summer months the hermits inhabited a hut attached to the sacristy of the church (perhaps giving it the name hermit’s dwelling ), in winter they moved into a house in the village of Mindelaltheim.
Even if the frescoes of the church are assessed rather negatively by the specialist literature (see section on frescoes), this assessment does not apply to the place of worship as such. In 1861, in the physics report of the Burgau district court, it is described as a “handsomely built […] field chapel”. In 1910, the then pastor of Mindelaltheim, Julius Pröbstle, assessed the church as “a wonderful adornment of the area” as well as a “charming little church” and a “precious gem”. Rudolf Weser, in his 1917 essay on the painters Anton and Johann Baptist Enderle, wrote: “[T]he whole baroque architecture is wonderfully finely tuned, it is structurally a quite peculiarly beautiful and satisfying to the eye.” In his 1950 treatise on Joseph Dossenberger, Alois Wohlhaupter described the sacred building as a “typical little Swabian pilgrimage church.” In 2011, Karl Bader from Mindelaltheim attributed “supra-regional significance” to the church due to its architecture and furnishings.
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- Karl Heinrich Koepf: Joseph Dossenberger (1721-1785). A Swabian Master Builder of the Rococo. Konrad, Weißenhorn 1973, ISBN 3-87437-090-9.
- Julius Pröbstle: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Heiligkreuz-Kirche zu Mindelaltheim bei Burgau. In: Bibliothek für Volks- und Heimatkunde. Special issue on the German districts, 83, Kaufbeuren 1910, pp. 1-8.
– Collection of images, videos and audio files
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- historical photoof the church after 1972 at the Deutsche Fotothek
- more pictures from the 1970s at the picture index of art and architecture
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