Church of the Teutonic Order - Vienna
The Church of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary (German: Hl. Elisabeth von
also known as Church of the Teutonic Order (German: Deutschordenskirche),
the mother church of the Teutonic Order , a German-based Roman Catholic
religious order formed at the end of the 12th century. Located in Vienna,
Austria, near the Stephansdom, it is the current seat of the Grand Master
of the Order.
The Church of St Elisabeth of Hungary
This Gothic church was built in the 14th century (1326-1375) and consecrated
to St. Elisabeth of Hungary. Some of the stucco work was performed by the
Italian artists Simone Allio in 1697
and Girolamo Alfieri in 1700. The church
was remodelled in Baroque style in 1720 (probably) by the architect Anton
Erhard Martinelli, while Count Guido von Starhemberg was the commander of the
Order. Alfieri worked again in this church
in the period 1720-1725, as well
as the sculptor Giovanni Antonio Canevale. However, the church has retained
of its Gothic origins, such as pointed arches in the windows.
The walls are decorated with rows of numerous armorial
bearings of the Order
of Teutonic Knights and several commemorative stones, such as the tombstone
Grafen Sarau with relief work by Giovanni Stanetti and of bailiff
Jobst von Wetzhausen (1524) by Loy Hering.
Of particular interest is the Flemish winged triptych,
a polychromed altarpiece
from 1520. The woodcarver and the painter are unknown. The polychromy was made
by Jan van Wavere, a polychromer from Mechelen. It depicts in
vivid woodcarvings scenes from the Passion of Christ.
The Treasury of the
The church is incorporated
in the Deutschordenshaus, the seat of the Order.
Next to the cobbled inner courtyard is the Schatzkammer (the Treasure
a real ecclesiastical treasure trove that has been turned into a museum,
consisting of five rooms on the
second floor. The different collections have
been built by successive Grand Masters during eight centuries. They constitute
one of the oldest treasure collections in Vienna, covering the Gothic, Renaissance,
and Baroque periods. The real start
of the Schatzkammer can be dated to 1525 when
the Grand Master Albert of Prussia converted to Lutheranism and declared
collections his private property. The museum was reopened on 22 April 2006
after an extensive renovation.
The first room displays Gothic coins, medals,
seals, crosses, and a 13th century coronation ring.
The second room shows chalices with silvery filigree, but also
extravagant features. There is a salt-cellar tree, made from red coral,
hung with sharks' teeth. In
medieval times these were thought to be
fossilized adders' tongues, able to detect poisoned food. Also remarkable
are a number of vessels made of coconut shells, such one from Goa with
silver mountings and another one in chinoiserie
style. Also notable is a
silver chain (ca. 1500) for the sword carried by the members of the Order.
It carries a
hanger depicting the Madonna and Child and the insignia of
the Order. A precious table clock is adorned with garnets
and surrounded with a garland of gilded leaves.
The other rooms contain a collection of oriental arms such as
a Sumatran kris with
a wavy blade and a rhino horn handle, carved in the shape of Buddha with precious
Another valuable of the collection is the charter by Pope Gregory IX from
1235, declaring Elisabeth of Thuringia a saint.
Finally, there are several Gothic
paintings and a Carinthian woodcarving of Saint George and the Dragon.
The treasury is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays
between 10am-12noon, Wednesdays and Fridays 3-5pm.