Before and After: Kreuzkirche (Chapel of the True Cross) in Heiligenkreuz, Austria

The Kreuzkirche in Heiligenkreuz is a small church/chapel located north of the more well known, main Cistercian abbey church of Heiligenkreuz. Here a relic of the True Cross is kept and here the parish of Heiligenkreuz functionally holds it day-to-day parish liturgies for the broader community. 

This particular chapel was originally built in the 1980's in the style and tastes of that particular period -- a style that has not proven itself to stand the test of time it must be said, or even a matter of a few decades.  (And certainly, to my mind, one good test for "good" liturgical art is whether or not it can indeed stand the test of time.)  In order to bring it 'up to date' -- away from its very dated style and toward a more timeless and classic one -- the chapel recently underwent renovations which saw, amongst other changes, the introduction of a cycle of paintings by the artist Clemens Fuchs. (For readers who speak German, you may wish to watch this video interview with the artist which will also show you images of him working on the paintings.)  

LAJ was pleased to be furnished with some photos and information about this beautification by one of the monks at Heiligenkreuz Abbey to share as part of our ever popular 'before and after' series. We begin, as usual with the before.


The style will be fairly familiar to many. The stone altar is quite noble and the statuary is quite beautiful, but the rest of the design was rather lack-lustre, particularly the retable like structure that hosted the aumbry styled tabernacle behind and the relic of the true cross above. At best it proved a distraction. 

Turning toward the new design and arrangement, while the paintings are the most obvious additions, a new 'altar of reservation,' approximating a traditional high altar (and potentially usable as such down the road -- but I digress) has been installed, as has a more beautiful and substantial central tabernacle; six traditionally styled altar candlesticks have been placed around it on a gradine. Finally, I'd point out that a new stone lectern/ambo was also installed to better match the altar of the chapel. 


Here is a closer look at some of the cycle of paintings, as well as the new tabernacle (above which can be seen the relic of the True Cross). 
If you'd like to see more and learn more, I'd invite you to watch this video (in English) of the project:

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