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St. Michael's Parish Church

by Theresa König last modified 2007-02-19 15:09

St. Michael’s Parish Church

You are in front of the Parish Church in Gaschurn.  In the late Middle Ages, during the time when the people from Wallis were moving here, there was a gothic chapel in Gaschurn that was first documented in 1485.  In 1587, after the community had become independent of St. Gallenkirch, they began to develop independently on an ecclesiastical level.  A church was built between 1631 and 1634.  200 years later it was pulled down and a new church was built in honour of the Arch Angel, Michael.  The church was consecrated in 1869 by Bishop Franz Joseph Rudigier from Linz.  Franz Joseph Rudigier was born in Partenen and has gone down in church history as the builder of the Linz Cathedral.  The township paid tribute to this famous local son by including an extensive biography about him in the book of local history.

In the travelogues of the 19th century, the Parish Church in Gaschurn was famous for its peculiar pulpit that was built in 1759 and then removed and destroyed when the church was torn down in 1867.  The pulpit was in the shape of a whale out of which the prophet, Jonas, rose.  It was built in the 19th century, during the times of historicism, and shows Neo-Romanesque church building elements with medieval shapes from the romanticism era.  The seemingly protective architecture, a clear, manageable floor plan with a nave, a transept with a round choral, with the emphasis on the round arch motif and the use of the barrel vaults throughout the piling are characteristics of this sacred building.  The dominating style of painting is the Nazareth painting style which is represented by the most famous Montafon family of artists:  Five artists in four generations – the Bertle family determined the artistic environment in southern Vorarlberg during the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries.

Josef Anton Bertle (1796-1858) created the Lent paintings that are no longer displayed, although the crucifixion is hanging at the high altar in the church in Partenen today. 
The brothers, Franz and Jakob painted the former high altar painting in the choral, the side altar paintings as well as the ceiling paintings in Nazareth style.  The theme of the ceiling paintings in the nave is very interesting.  It shows two themes from the story of St. Paul and they were painted just at the time, that the pope in Rome promulgated the infallibility dogma in 1871.  Andreas Rudigier explains that the prominent elements of the Nazareth style paintings are the emphasis on the religious devotional characters, leaving out landscape scenes and dramatic portrayals as well as the clear composite architecture with a preference for graphically clear contours oriented on late medieval paintings.  The “new” high altar was built in 1911 by Fidelis Rudhart and the people’s altar was built later on during the restorations carried out by Herbert Albrecht in 1997.  
The former high altar painting depicts the church patron, Michael, just as he is pushing Luzifer down to hell.  It was painted by Franz Bertle in 1872 but had to be removed again in 1907 because the parish priest that was in Gaschurn at that time, “didn’t want to read the mass while standing under the devil”. 

The church is open to the public during the day.                   


P01-1 St. Michael's Parish Church.mp3

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