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Churches by the wayside

Lion figure at Groß St. Martin, Cologne
"Churches by the wayside" is a collection of blog posts
and musings written and photographed by Manfred
Berndtgen.

Title image: Sant'Agnese in Agone reflected in a puddle at
Piazza Navona, Rome
Living nearby a church means impertinence.
They belong to the loudest buildings in town,
remembering us of the course of time and of
the great celebrations that are a vivid part of
Christianity.

A church is not only a House of God, it's also
a source of inspiration, a place that doesn't
follow today's needs of usefulness and
restlessness.

This book contains various images of churches
in Germany and Italy. It's a journey through
centuries, architectural styles and the difficult
relationship of man and belief.

Some rights reserved. Content of this book is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (by-nc-nd). Photos
and text: Manfred Berndtgen, mb@mabuse.de

Churches by the wayside
Coming from the distance:
St. Peter's in the sea of
houses in Rome.

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Chiesa Nuova
The Chiesa Nuova (its predecessor was the church Santa
Maria in Vallicella, a name that is sometimes used also for this
newer church) has been built in the last quarter of the 16th
century. Initially it was meant to be unpretentious and without
elaborate decor, but after the death of St Philip Neri (for
whom it was built) it was decorated as we can see now -
against his will. I visited this place in the evening, it was
already dark outside and the church was lit only by these
lamps. So I sat there, thought about the treasures that were
hidden in the darkness and smiled about the irony, seeing all
this opulence in a church that was built for a man to whom
material property and richness meant nothing and who lived
in self-chosen poverty for the most time in his life.
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The name-giver of this church, Adolfus of Sevilla, lived in the 9th century as son of
a Muslim father and a Christian mother in the then Islamic Spain. Being a Christ,
he rubbed people up the wrong way, caused offence, and was eventually
sentenced to death, thus becoming a martyr in the eyes of his contemporaries.
Adolfus' multicultural background, his difficulties with the then Muslim mainstream
and the causes of becoming an outlaw would be worth investigating, parts of his
story are timeless, I think. Until then we may admire the beautiful realization of
Neo-Romanesque in this church.

St. Adolfus
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Sant'Ignazio
On Plants and Stones
Many of my colleagues at work are dedicated amateur photographers. Most of
them have some features in common: they are married for some years and
usually are about 40. Their favourite photography subject is 'fashion and beauty',
that means: making photos of preferably pretty young women. They make huge
efforts on this, are very busy with contacting models, organizing their shootings
and locations, and of course working on their portfolio.

Maybe it's not always the glamour of Vogue or Playboy that might come from this
work, but usually their photos are quite amazing and I can surmise what keeps
them them sticking to this often arduous work.

Their comments on this model or the other, their reports about missed deadlines
and stressful shootings often result in short and explicit comments on these
young women. Sometimes I listen to comments of exhaustion where the
photographer says once he's fed up with all this beauty stuff he'll return to 'birds
and bees' photography.

If fashion and beauty photography is that arduous, why do they take on this
burden? Obviously, the preoccupation with young women has its advantages, and
a beauty shot certainly has more glamour than a landscape or church capture.

However, I can't avoid the impression that at least some of my colleagues try to
get something back from their life while doing these shootings. But as the leopard
can't change its spots their machismo peeks through - and suddenly the
glamour's gone. What remains is their reservation (if not condescendence) against
the birds and bees photographers.

My favourite subjects are made of stone or herbal tissue. They usually don't pose
for me; most of them I know only by accident. I have to take them as they are,
there is no make-up artist and generally I don't have to consider queasy
questions about nudity, recklessness and the like. My models are either short-
lived or way too old for glamour shots. I wouldn't want to look down at a nudie
photographer because I'm preferring photos of sacral architecture and primeval
plants. It's just my strange little world as the glamour is theirs.

This trompe l'œil ceiling can be found in the second most important Jesuit church in Rome,
Sant'Ignazio, where the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola, is glorified. The
painting by Andrea Pozzo (1685) makes you believe that you're looking right into heaven,
where Ignatius receives his epiphany (symbolized by light rays) and gets 'ignited' (hence
his name). The then known parts of the world (located in the corners) are witnessing the
scene. The beholder's eye moves immediately to Ignatius, though the Lord is exactly in
the midst of the scene. This is a beautiful example of baroque illusionist painting.
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The former Benedictine
monastery at Tegernsee,
Bavaria, today hosts the local
Catholic parish church of Saint
Quirinus and is a fine example of
Baroque refurbishment after the
disastrous Thirty Years' War
(1618-1648). Views of the
ceiling, where folk belief and
tradition meets masterly
painting.

Benedictine
Monastery,
Tegernsee
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Above: A fine example of Bavarian late Gothic: the 15th century painting was done by Gabriel Angler,
several additional superstructures were executed by Gabriel Mäleßkircher. The monstrance below the
painting (in the middle) is the only remnant of the former treasury of the Church: it was fabricated by Hans
Kistler, a famous goldsmith of the 15th century. All other décor was done in early Baroque style during
the refurbishment in the late 17th century.

Next page: Side aisles.
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Il Gesù
Il Gesù (or, in its complete name, Santissima Nome
di Gesù) is the main church of the Jesuit order in
Rome. Following Charles Borromeo's Instructions of
religious building work this church became
archetypical for churches built between the age of
Counter Reformation and Baroque. Construction
was begun in 1568 by Vignola. The church was
finally finished by Giacomo della Porta in 1575

The exuberant decoration has been added later in
Baroque times. When built, Gesù first was almost
without decors.

The fresco The Triumph of the Name of Jesus on
the vault was painted by il Baciccio in 1672-1685,
stucco figures by Antonio Raggi.

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Above: Il Gesù's High Altar is seen from every spot of the church. That sounds obvious but it is nonetheless a break
with traditional architecture of then, because liturgical needs were put before the personal preferences of the architect.
Thus one of the insights of Counter-Reformation became architecture.

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Above: The cupola was designed by Vignola and
completed by della Porta. Frescoes depiticing biblical
scenes executed by il Baciccio.

Left: Chapel of St Ignatius, designed by Andrea Pozzo, a
work of more than 100 artists. The Ignatius altar holds his
relics; the statue above the altar (made by Pierre Legros)
was initially made entirely of silver, then after the turmoil of
the French invasion, reconstructed in bronze by Canova. At
the tip is the Holy Trinity, the globe held by the Father is a
single piece of lapis lazuli.

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Sant'Andrea Sant'Andrea della valle (St. Andrew in the valleys)
is a big Titular church with the second largest

della Valle dome in Rome (after St. Peter's; 16.10 metres in
diameter and 80 metres high). Three large
paintings in the half-dome of the sanctuary depict
the martyrdom of St. Andrew. They are executed
by Mattia Preti, also known as Calabrese.

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St. Kunibert
Cologne offers more than just the Cathedral: at least a dozen Romanesque
churches (the "big" ones, there are many smaller ones in the suburbs) are ready
for a visit. Most of them were gravely damaged during the war, some of them
totally. So 1985 was an important year for the city of Cologne when the last of the
twelve churches was fully restored. (One tower of St. Kunibert followed some
years later. This answers the question if it's still possible to build like our
forefathers: yes, it is.)

St. Kunibert is the youngest of the Romanesque churches, consecrated in 1247,
only one year before construction of the Cathedral begun. Dedicated to Kunibert,
one of the first bishops of Cologne, it offers a very light, pure Romanesque
architecture. Fortunately, many pieces of original art from the past survived the
times, like the upper windows in the choir apse. We'll have a closer look at this in
the near future. Another Kunibert image. The unusual location of the organ has
been chosen to not disturb the spatial impression of the nave. When I made this
photo the organist was practising, it was an impressive demonstration of his and
the organ's capabilities. Since today is Good Friday in the Orthodox Church we
use this as an opportunity to visit St. Kunibert again and have a look at the nave's
ambulatories. A closer look to the choir apse of St. Kunibert, Cologne, Germany.
The triptych that had been sold during secularization came back in 1998: it shows
a depiction of the crucifixion, painted by a nameless master. The stained-glass
windows in the upper 'storey' are originals from the early 13th century (ca. 1230),
they are dedicated to various saints, the middle one shows the tree of Jesse. (A
better photo of the windows can be found at Wikipedia.) The small shrines left and
right from the altarpiece are from the 19th century and contain the relics of St.
Kunibert and the Saints Ewald. The most distinguished sanctuary of the treasury
of the cathedral contains the assumed mortal remains of St. Victor (Viktor of
Xanten) in a gemmed shrine that is one of the oldest preserved ones in the whole
Rhineland. Besides the shrine busts of Victor and his relative Helena were erected.
The paintings in the wings of the altar are done by Barthel Bruyn the Elder (1534),
depicting various stages of life of Victor and Helena.

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There are churches that
are totally overwhelming.
Others make you believe
you're already in (a
bavarian version of)
heaven. Others let you
witness the salvific history.
And when the splendor is
just too much but you
urgently need a place of
peace and calmness, you
may go to this church.
Santissima Trinità degli
Spagnuoli is a very small,
built for the Spanish
Trinitarian friars in the
middle of the 18th
century, and it's quite like
a living room, not far away
from S. Carlo but
completely different. This
small house of God is pure
contemplation, an intimate
place for just a few people
and far away enough from
Santissima Trinità the hubbub. Such a place
would habe been ideal for

degli Spagnuoli me today, because there
were as many as three
major events in my city
today and there were
perceived 5 million people
running through the
streets.
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San Marcello al Corso

A small church located at Rome's Corso. San Marcello
has a long and chequered history. Making a photo here
was difficult, there wasn't much light I could use.
However, it is a quite intimate location that invites you
to have a rest from the hustle outside.

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Built during the Thirty Years' War
(1618-1648) as Jesuit convent church,
St. Andreas shows an iconography that
represents the 'universal idea of the
church'. The visitor is surrounded by
saints, the stucco depicts the trinity,
prophets, evangelists and the holy
kings. You can read this as an
interpretation of Augustinus' 'civitas
dei', the City of God.

When consecrated in 1629, there
possibly was a small organ installed, as
Georg Friedrich Händel stayed here for
a while and played it. The case of the
instrument we can see here is from
1782. It experienced several
refurbishments since then. The first
organ (built by Peter Kemper
(1734-1820), an organ-builder from
Bonn) was a mechanical construction
with bellows that had to be treated by
kalkants, or bellows treaders.

In 1900 the keyboard was pneumatic
and the bellows operated electrically.
Heavily destroyed by war, the Fabritius
workshop from Kaiserswerth rebuilt it in
the early 1950s. 1970 - 1971 Rudolf
von Beckerath, organbuilder in
Hamburg, built the actual organ and
installed it into the historic case.

The builders and designers built a
French Baroque organ that is provided
with a disposition commemorative of
Cavaillé-Coll's tone ideal, but that also
consists of the concise registers of a
North German character in the manner
of Arp Schnitger. The organ is adjusted
to the complex spatial relations of the
church that has a reverberation of only
four seconds. It is praised by many
well-known organists. In 2003 some
digital enhancements were added.
The total number of organ pipes is
3480. The longest pipe measures 5.40
meters (17.7 ft), the shortest one just
2.2 cm (0.8 in).
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St. Andreas
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St. Marien
St. Marien in downtown Bonn, hidden behind an architectural abberation of the
Seventies. It was built 1887-1892 and although it doesn't look too exciting from the
outside, it is one of the finest Neo-gothic churches I've ever seen. Absolutely pure
design, very well preserved, fabulous handcraft and an exquisite interior.

Left: A few years ago the walls and pillars were painted in the sense of its
designer, Joseph Prill. This room creates a reverberaton of at least 7-8 seconds.

Top: The High Altar, depicting scenes of the life of the Christ.

Opposite, left: Choir with High Altar

Opposite, right: A look back towards the gallery. The organ at the gallery is made
by the renowned Klais Orgelbau company that resides just a few streets away.
Considering the reverberation effect of 7-8 seconds in that room this church has
very good acoustics.

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Santa Maria Maddalena
La Maddalena is dedicated to St Mary Magdelene. It is Rome's only
true Rococo church.

Top: The fresco in the vault shows The raising of Lazarus at the prayer
of his sister Mary,

Right: cupola

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The author of this book is information scientist and
currently working as systems engineer.Always wanting to
capture spirit and atmosphere of churches, this turned out
to be a difficult task. Only diigital photography and the
measures of digital image processing opened a window to
a whole new world and made the photographs that are
collected in this book, possible.

Above: St. Victor at St. Victor's Cathedral, Xanten
Back cover: Altar, Cologne Cathedral

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