|Altarpiece relief depicting St. Martin and the beggar.|
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a 4th-Century monk and bishop in what is now
. Born into a pagan family, he served in the Roman army, but upon experiencing a conversion, he renounced military life and was baptized. Later, he founded monasteries and was chosen bishop, always serving the poor and advocating non-violence. France
According to tradition, just before his baptism, while riding his horse in carrying out his military duties, Martin encountered a shivering beggar. He removed his cloak, and with his sword, he cut it in two, giving half to the beggar. Later, in a dream, Christ appeared to him as the beggar he had clothed.
When I was in
Europe last year, I visited many, many, many churches, and had the opportunity to see and pray in some magnificent, historic cathedrals and basilicas. Most of these had undergone a number of changes through the centuries due to wars, fires, etc., and many were adorned interiorly in the fanciful Baroque style.
However, my favorite church as a visitor wasn’t any of these. Rather, it was a small, humble, and much older country church located just above the mountainside
village of Ludesch in . It is dedicated to Austria St. Martin, and is one of the loveliest, most well-preserved old churches I have ever seen. Many aspects of the church and its setting spoke to me in ways none of those bigger, more famous and richly adorned churches did. I could have spent the entire day there.
|Looking out from the breezeway between|
the church and the bell tower.
The stone and stucco structure of
St. Martin’s (with walls about 4 feet thick) was built around 1400, but evidence suggests its history stretches back at least a couple hundred years earlier. The current interior architecture, artwork, and Gothic furnishings date to about 1600. Also included above the altar is a Romanesque crucifix from around 1200.
So, in honor of
St. Martin, and recalling this wonderful church, I am posting here some photographs I took during my visit in June 2010. Enjoy.
So, in honor of
|Sanctuary interior with benches and kneelers (15th or 16 Century).|
These, on the right, were for men. The women, who did not have to kneel,
sat on the left on similar benches but with no elbow rests.
|Many frescoes on the walls and ceiling depict the life of Christ.|
|Just outside the church overlooking the village.|