Pilgrims see it as a place of hope for prayers being answered; others view it as a place of silence, prayer and contemplation: Wies Church, also known as the Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour in Wies, near the town of Steingaden in Bavaria, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Rococo masterpiece. It is strikingly impressive, and truly moves visitors.
The church's history is also touching: it all began with a statue of the Scourged Saviour in Steingaden Abbey, which came to be privately owned by a woman farmer. During her daily prayers, she found drops in the eyes of the statue, which she believed to be tears. News of this statue hearing worshippers' prayers travelled quickly, and the first pilgrimages here led to the construction of a small chapel in 1739.
Just ten years later, the statue of the Scourged Saviour was moved from the field chapel to the chancel of Wies Church, which was still being built at the time. To this day, the pilgrimage church stands isolated between meadows and fields in the "Pfaffenwinkel" (Priests' Corner) region of Bavaria, near Steingaden. And yet it is still found, both by people seeking deep spirituality and art lovers, who come to look around a church built in a decorative Rococo style, with playful details and exuberant adornments on the pillars, organ, pulpit and statue. The effortlessness of the sense of being at the time is reflected in the altarpiece designed by Munich-based court painter Balthasar Augustin Albrecht, as well as in the fresco on the domed ceiling with its trompe-l’œil style. Author Peter Dörfler once said that Wies Church is "a bit of heaven in this suffering world", and it's hard to contradict his words.
Opening hours: every day from 8am to 8pm in the summer months; every day from 8am to 5pm in the winter months (the seasonal periods are based on the dates when the clocks change)
Nearest train station: Munich
Pilgrim mass is held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday (10am)
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