Project Canterbury

Notes, Ecclesiological and Picturesque, on Dalmatia, Croatia, Istria, Styria, with a Visit to Montenegro


by the Rev. J. M. Neale, M.A.,
Warden of Sackville College.

London: J. T. Hayes, Lyall Place, Eaton Square.

pp 1-15


I HAD long been desirous, as deeply interested in, and engaged in the history of, the Oriental Church, of observing for myself the mutual action and re-action of the Eastern and Western Communions in their border lands on the east coast of the Adriatic. As devoted to liturgical studies, I wished personally to examine, in the only country where it is still in use, the questions which arise from the venerable and mysterious Glagolita rite. And finally, as an ardent student of Ecclesiology, I promised myself no small gratification from the churches of Istria and Dalmatia,—and, above all, of Aquileia. At length, in the spring of last year, the opportunity, for which I had longed, presented itself.

I was happy enough to secure the companionship of my friend, the Rev. JOSEPH OLDKNOW, D.D., Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity Chapel, Bordesley, whose many qualifications as a fellow traveller I had long since learnt, in the somewhat arduous tour in Portugal, of which he has published an interesting little account. A community of interest in our pursuits and inquiries, and the perpetual cheerfulness and unvarying good humour of my companion,—would have been enough to make me forget inconveniences of a far graver character than any which it was our lot actually to encounter.

WE LEFT London on Tuesday, April 17, 1860, by way of Dover and Calais, for Paris. Proceeding by the Great Eastern of France, we devoted some days to the ecclesiology of Toul, Metz, and Strasburg. Hence, through snowstorms and bitter east wind, we made our way, by Karlsruhe and Bruchsal, to Stuttgart. Here we were most kindly received by His Excellency C. T. R. Gordon, Ambassador at the Court of Wurtemburg, and one of the first ecclesiologists of our day; to whom our thanks are due for a most pleasant evening in his hospitable house.

Continuing our route by Esslingen, Ulm, and Augsburg, to Donauwerth, we then descended the river, whence that place derives its name, to Ratisbon. After giving two delightful days to that noble city, we resolved, as I was desirous of obtaining some idea of the churches in the Valley of the Danube, to continue our course by land. Up to this point, the chief ecclesiastical buildings of Wurtemburg and Bavaria have been so carefully described by English ecclesiologists, especially by my friend, Mr. Webb, in his admirable work, that I could not hope to add anything to the results of their researches. Ratisbon passed, I am treading ground not described, I believe—at least not described in print,—by my fellow students.

The Valley of the Danube, then, from Donauwerth to Passau, abounds in churches, for the most part, framed in the same mould. Generally speaking, small, they have chancel or nave with north or south aisle; tower, anywhere rather than at the west end; tallish, the square surmounted by, not bevelled into, an octagon: and that finished by a (later) bulb and spirelet. The square, preponderates over the apsidal, east end; and the further we advance east, the more completely is this the case. Who will solve for us this great problem?—Why is England the mother country of the one, France of the other, school? and why do stone vaultings and gabled towers belong to the latter? wooden roofs and square towers, or spires, to the former? This, I take it, is one of the deepest questions in ecclesiology.

As might be expected in a land so often ravaged by war, there is comparatively—to all appearance— little of aucient work. The peculiar taste of the Jesuits, too, once so powerful in Bavaria, ehows itself in the heavy gilding, stuccoed domes, and painted vaultings,—(frequently representing the hlstory of the Patron Saint)—everywhere to be seen. The larger churches seem to have had a series of narrow chapels, with elaborate vaulting, external to the nave aisles: this is to be seen, for example, in the parish church of Wilshofen, our first day's journey from Ratisbon. The road from this place to Passau runs close to the Danube all the vay, and is seldom far from the railway. I saw these two churches betweenWilshofen and Passau:

Hasbruch is a very curious building, the railway (then in progress, since opened) touches the churchyard wall. Circular externally, it is octagonal within,—without constructional choir, porch, or original tower; though, with execrable taste, the latter was added in 1762. The original pitch of the pyramid-like roof, which is very ancient, is preserved, and has a dine and very singular effect. There is a central pier, as in a Chapter-house—circular, with octagonal base and the ribs spring immediately from the upper part without any capital. The vaulting is thus:—On three of the cardinal sides, there is an ugly broad lancet; there is also a western door; the whole is evidently of Flamboyant work. I should like to know whether the peculiar shape of this church is a mere freak of the architect,—or whether a specimen of a local type. There is another entrance by a gallery and circular turret, from—what is now—a farm on the south side, but which I suppose to have been a religious house; not the last curious part of the whole arrangement.

Next we come to Santpor, a small Flamboyant church. Chancel,—nave,—south tower, apse trigonal; windows of two lights, trefoiled with awkward quatrefoil in lead. Nave,—of two bays, with an ugly lancet on each side. The checkie vaulting of the chancel and nave, evidently later, is very singular. The tower is nearly square, with pyramidal heading.

The road continues between the future railway and the river, till the towers of Passau come in sight. This, episcopal city though it be, has but little to interest an ecclesiologist. The situation is unspeakably grand, the Danube, with the bold heights beyond; the larger Inn, obedient in its course, and henceforth to take its name frorn its inferior rival; and the black Ilz pouring into the united streams from the opposite side, at the moment of their junction. Here I would recommend an inn not mentioned by the guidebooks, the Grunen Engel; where we were very comfortably off. All the churches are modern, though here and there with traces of old work. S. Michael has nothing interesting; I here heard the devotion of the Stations—it was Friday—gone through with considerable earnestness by large congregation. Beyond this, is the once conventual church of S. Paul, a huge Italian building, with stucco, gilding, and painting, to the heart's delight of the seventeenth century. On the north side are some poor remains of early Flamboyant cloisters, and a square-headed entrance-door, very good, of that date. Among the earlier mural monuments of this cloister, several are to the Abbesses. Beyond this again, the Jesuits’ Church, really worthless. Going down the Danube—it was a day of continuous rain—I found a church of which I could not learn the name; only so far cllriolls, that, amidst all the tinsel work of the seventeenth century, it has evident remains of a Romanesque narthex, the arches singularly stilted. The Cathedral stands on a height, the nave was rebuilt, after having been destroyed by fire, in 1665; the choir, though too much mutilated to be worth a description, must have been very fine Flamboyant, (1407—1450). Beyond the Inn is the church of S. Gertrude entirely modern. The chief devotion here is that of Maria Hilf, whose church, behind the Inn-Stadt, with the black wonder-working image of Our Lady, is a celebrated pilgrimage. It is reached by an ascent of 264 steps, up which you may see many a devout pilgrim toiling on his knees, and repeating a Pater Noster or Ave at each. Every little print shop has its view of Passau shadowed by the guardian care of Our Lady of Good Help.

The scenery of the Danube from Passau to Linz is very fine; though the rain still continued, the contrast was striking, as we saw it, between the sombre tint of the fir-clad mountains, that rise on either side, and the vivid young green of the spring chesnuts scattered here and there among them. Patches of snow at this, the end of April, still lay heavy on the upper hills, and drifts and tails of cloud dragged themselves here and there over the rocky heights. So down the river, dark, turbid, and swollen,—with half an hour's stoppage at Engelhardtzell, the Austrian frontier,— to Linz. We were at the Rother Krebs, whicb is on the left bank of the river, and close to the water's edge; very comfortable quarters. The view from the window of our vaulted room, which commanded that part of Linz which lies on the other side of the Danube, rather reminded me—to compare small things with great—of that which you have of Cologne from the Belle Vue at Deutz.

Linz, though the capital of Upper Austria, is a very dull place for an ecclesiologist. We were there on the second Sunday after Easter. First to the Cathedral, a modern and utterly worthless building. There was a good congregation, and a very fair sermon on the orphanhood of the Disciples during the ten days of our LORD'S departure. Then to All Angels, also a modern church, where we heard a very good military mass. I was much struck, in the offertory, with the soft and gentle strains in which the—A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, was given, compared with the jubilant expression of thankfulness in—“She remembereth no more her anguish for joy,—for joy,—FOR JOY,—that a man is born into the world;" so completely carrying out the mediaeval interpretation of the long travail of the Church; and then to thankfulness that, at the end of four thousand years,—The Man, the long-promised God Man, should be born into the world.

In the great square, on the northern side of the river, is a most profane juxtaposition of three pillars,—the Trinity Column in the centre, surmounted with the most offensive type of seventeenth century productions, and raised in consequence of the deliverance of Linz from cholera, on one side a column bearing a statue of Neptune, on the other, a pillar surmounted vrith Jupiter. Crossing the long wooden bridge, 1700 feet in length, we visited a church in the southern quarter, as worthless as the others. I could obtain no information regarding the magnificent Gothic Cathedral about to be erected here.

In the afternoon, the railway, running through a very dull country, takes us to Lambach. We reach that place about four—and now the Salzkammergut mountains, among which we are so soon going to plunge, stand out clear and blue to S. and S.W. As we enter the quaint little town, we pass the great Benedictine House, still in full work, and take up our abode at a quiet little country inn, the Schwarzes Rössel. And first, again passing the monastery, and descending a steep himm, we make our way along the side of the green Traun to the bluff hill of Baura, round which the village niches itself in various green nooks. A plesant field walk, with cowslips, ox-eyes, orchises, and forget-me-notes, to tell how forward, after our lat emountain passes, pring was here in the lowlands, I may quote what follows from a letter written the same night— “First through a lovely valley, starred with cowslips, to the church of Baura. This stands on a high bit of table land, that almost overhangs the town; a most plesant situation; the green river foaming beneath; wooded banks on its other side. Look up the stream, and the Benedictine Monastery crowns the opposite height; look south, and you have the chain of purple mountains, snow-striped and speckled, great Traunstein towering above the rest. Baura is dedicated to the Blessed Trinity, and was built in 1755. It is triangular; has three doors, three windows, three sacristies, three organs, and is built of three sorts of Sicilian marble, and cost 333,333 florins. Over the first entrance I read, Deum Patrem Creatorem Mundi, venite adoremus; opposite in a wretched transparency behind the altar, is a very offensive picture of the FATHER. Over the second door, Deum Filium Redemptorem Mundi, venite adoremus; and opposite, the Nativity; I suppose, as brought to pass by the operation of the HOLY GHOST.

"From Baura we walked back to the monastery at Lambach: it consists of two or three quadrangles, with lines of whitewashed square-headed windows, some two hundred years old. But the foundation is of the eleventh century; and there it is in life. We were shown into the church by a servant; there is nothing whatever in it. I ask for the library; it is not to be seen. I send in my recommendation; out comes the Librarian, one of the Fathers, a very pleasing man, rather tall and stout, about fifty. He took us over it; it has 14,000 volumes; manuscripts of great value, and an almost priceless collection of ecclesiastical Incunabula. What are Incunabula? you ask. It is the name that Germans give to books printed before 1500. I found some pretty little manuscript breviaries: but manuscript missals there were none. At last I got two early printed ones, Augsburg and Frisingen; and finding some sequences not yet reprinted, asked if I might have them to copy at the inn. This could not be done unless application was made to the ‘Prelate.’ They had just finished supper: it was nearly seven: we were shown into the little refectory. The Abbat was a very striking man, I imagine about forty, by far the most intellectual looking of the whole set; only to be distinguished from the rest by a gold pectoral cross. ‘Certainly we should have the books; was there anything else he could do for us?’ ‘Might we attend compline and matins?’ ‘What were we?’ ‘Priests of the English Church.’ ‘Surely, why not?’ Then he sent for some wine of the monastery’s own growth, and we and the fathers each had a tumbler. Before we had finished, the bell for compline rang. The little hours were said, not in the church, but in a small oratory. At its east end is no altar, but a cross. The stalls, which have misereres, are not returned, and there is a kind of ante-chapel. The Abbat sat in the western-most stall of the north side, and gave me, as the post of honour, the place on his left hand. Opposite to him was the prior. Service began by a German lection, a translation of S. Bernard, by the Prior. In about ten minutes, the Abbat rang a little bell, and the reader stopped. Then began the ordinary compline service. That ended, except the last benediction, a Probationer read in German, a prayer, asking forgiveness for that day’s sins, and a resolution to sin no more. This resolution was repeated by the fathers in common. Then the Abbat, also in German, said, ‘Remember that, as you are now about to lie down in your beds, so some day shall you lie down in your graves. Remember that, as you for yourselves close your eyes in sleep, so some day they must be closed for you in death. Remember that, as you cover yourselves with your bed-clothes, so some day you will be wrapped in the shroud.’ Then he gave the benediction, sprinkled the others with holy water, but gave it us to take for ourselves. The service, I ought to say, was on the monotone, except the hymn and the antiphon and Nunc Dimittis, but very striking from the depth of voices. There are about five and twenty fathers and brethren: Back to the inn; coffee: then I sat up late writing out the sequences. At 3-30, very unwillingly, I confess, up again; and I was soon knocking at the gate of the Quadrangle. I had my old place by the Abbat. Matins began at 4-0, were over about 5-10; they were simply Benedictine, without any local peculiarity: Psalms said on the monotone, antiphons, &c., sung. And then I went to bed for three hours more, with sufficient satisfaction."

There is a railway from Lambach to Gmunden, on the Traunsee, but we preferred engaging a kind of car; and accordingly early the next morning we were passing the Benedictine Monastery; and crossing the Traun, Baura long towering to our right, we made our way. south. Our first church was Roitham. It has chancel, nave, south porch, and western tower. The whole is of Flamboyant date. Trigonal apse: choir of two bays and a-half; nave of three; vaulting very elaborate. There is one of those strange original western galleries which we shall find accompanying us even as far as Croatia; and which, for want of a better term, I shall name narthex-galleries. They are of stone; always Flamboyant; sometimes stretched from aisle-wall to aisle-wall; sometimes from pier to pier; have one, or two, or three bays, from east to west. The present example has four bays, from north to south; one from east to west, with eight-clustered shafts, and very singular and elaborate vaulting. The use of these erections I cannot even guess, Were they for the choir--which would agree with its position in Portuguese churches-or for some particular class of worshippers-as women? The font is rather small, dodecagonal (this we shall find a local peculiarity): sides slightly concave, circular base. The internal door of the south porch is a square-beaded trefoil, with rich inter-penetrating mouldings; the vaulting, thus, very rude:

There is an external benatura, as always here. The tower is thin and tall, of six stages, divided by strings, but without windows. Under an open lean-to on the south side of the nave, is a representation of The Agony. I venture to quote from another letter.

"Here we left our vehicle, and scrambled down hill to the Traunsfall. It is partly spoilt by the river having been, to a certain degree, canalised for a mill; bat still a very grand sight. The deep green of the water; a kind of purple haze on the outside of the spray; the thunder of the fall, pent in, and echoed by the steep banks. The fall somewhat resembles a capital E: the mill stands at the lower end, and from one of the outhouses, which actually overhangs the stream, is the best view. I suppose the height to be 30 feet; the breadth of the river, 80 yards; depth of water, 7 or 8 feet. Hence, it is by far the most magnificent cascade I ever saw, and it gave one such great

quiet peaceful thoughts; made one (I know not why) think more of GOD'S love than His power. I leant over the thunder of the water for some twenty minutes; the spray-rainbow sometimes arching above my head; and thought how utterly untrue those lines of Byron's are about—

The hell of waters! where they howl and hiss,
And boil in endless torture: where the sweat
Of their great agony is wrung from this
Their Phlegethon,


and bow much more naturally one's thoughts dwell on the "voice of many waters round the throne," of which this, the 'Alleluiatic Sequence' of the earthly river is the faint type. On again: to Laakirchen. Here the schoolmaster brought in a school to say their mid-day prayers in church "They may kiss your hand, may they not?" said he. So the little mites, 40 or 45 in number, had that honour, and passed on, as I made the sign of the cross over each, with great content. Pretty children they were too. You know the beauty of the girls and women in this part of Austria is proverbial."

This church is a very singular building, of Flamboyant date, with south sacristy, chancel, nave, narthex. gallery,western tower, south porch. The hexagonal apse, and chancel of two bays, are inoderniged, The nave is most remarkable: it has two bays for itself, two for the gallery. In the centre of the former half is a pier; circular stilted base, voluted stem, then becoming four-partite: no cap. The vaulting suits this arrangement. The gallery has, north to south, four bays, east to west two; the mouldings very elaborate. The piers are octagonal, with concave sides. There was an original stone staircase of sixteen steps on the south side. The font is small; the south porch almost a fac-simile of that at Roitham. The western tower has that remarkable singularity, a south door. It has five stages, separated by strings; only one little square-beaded light in the uppermost; it is double-gabled. On the west end is this date, IQVI, which I read 1446. The external appearance of the whole building is very picturesque, from the enormous pitch of both choir and nave, and the great length of roof where the lean-to joins the former.

The country now rapidly increases in sublimity; we pass the brow of the hill, and the Traunsee, like a gem set in a shrine of purple mountains, breaks on us; Gmunden couching picturesquely on the near side. We alight at the inn,—the Sonne. Mine host proffers forelle and kid: we order them, and go to the church, a building of some pretensions. Chancel, nave, two aisles to the latter, narthex-gallery, western tower, north and south porches; the whole Flamboyant. All the windows are modernised. The apse is hexagonal; choir of one bay, vaulted separately; the nave of three. The piers are very poor and awkward, circular on square base; no caps. The gallery extends only across the nave; three bays north to south, one east to west, The tower is engaged; the aisles are awkwardly carried along it with a half arch. In the north aisle, north of the tower, is a very fine altar, in its way, of red marble, the reredos of the same material, with the souls in purgatory below; a landscape resembling the valley of the Traun above: all this in white marble and high relief. There is this chronogram:—

paCCa Ceres æsos speCIesqVe MerI CererIsVe
sIC hIC fLagrantes Igne pIante pIat.

i.e. 1653. This church is the first in which we have seen any preparations for the month of Mary, and they are very slight here. The north and south porches resemble those at Roitham. Near the south is a rudely executed figure of a knight in bas-relief, with the date, 1497. Dinner over, we go on board the steamer which takes us to the southern extremity of the lake.

Oh that lake! how marvellously beautiful it is! The passage tookl seventy-five minutes; and an intelligent passenger told me the names of each mountain, as to our left, for, on the right, the scenery is more pastoral—it peered over the blue waters. Traunstein rises, monarch of all before us; but, in succession, fir-capped Erloch-kufel, purple Hundstein, wild Hirschen-belt, double-peaked Schnee-marl, lordly Radelstein, precipitous Spitzel, and uttermost Dartstein. And so we land in the quaint little town of Ebensee.

We send our luggage in a car; ourselves walking up the valley of the Traun, ten miles, to Ischl.

Can I ever forget—can I, or any one else, ever describe—the glorious scenery of that mountain walk?

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