AUSTRIA COLUMN: Vienna brings encounters with church beauty



Almost a month has passed since summer ended and I left home for another chapter of my life. It seems like yesterday that I said farewell to my mother and little brother in the airport, and now I am familiar with freezing creek water in front of the Kartause and the smooth and refreshing taste of Dunkel in the Keller. I’ve traveled from Dublin to the Cliff of Moher, from Melk Abbey to the birthplace of Mozart in Salzburg.

This weekend was especially unique because we traveled to Vienna, the city of music. The moment I stepped out from the bus, my jaw dropped from the grand view. From cobblestone streets to majestic architecture, I was captivated by the vibrant liveliness and prosperity of Vienna.

Every corner contained a rich history of its own. The wealth and power of imperial times were truly present in the Austrian palace, which was unimaginably vast and beautiful.

But the most impressive thing about Vienna to me was the city’s devotion to Christianity. The centerpiece of the capital is God and churches, a clear indication of the importance of religion. Vienna’s largest church, St. Stephen’s, is the very definition of grandeur. From the outside, the main tower reaches to the sky.

St. Peter’s in Vienna was very different from St. Stephen’s in that it is a Romanesque church, but it was no less extraordinary. Breathtakingly beautiful in every sort of the way, I felt as if I was in heaven which had come down to earth. It was hard not to believe or fear God after seeing the inside of St. Peter’s Church, because from the floor to the ceiling, everything was meticulously and mystically stunning.

The sun had already set when I visited St. Michael’s Church on the opposite side of the palace entrance. From the outside, St. Michael’s was plain. There was no tower or colorful windows like St. Stephen’s nor did it have a dome and mystical design.

I walked through a small humble door into the church that has been welcoming people of all classes for centuries. As I entered the sanctuary, I could not hold back my tears from the splendor and magnificence of the place.

I fell to my knees in front of the high altar where our Mother Virgin was displayed in Maria Candida. The sound of an organ filled the dimly lit church. I prayed for my little brother. How ironic that I would pray for him at a church with his name. I remembered times we spent together from childhood and how valuable we are to each other. Busy times of our lives make it harder and harder to keep in touch with one another. However, the beauty of faith allows us to be so far apart yet so close. I prayed that God would help us to remain close and care for each other and that our brotherhood will extend from blood to faith.

God is good … all the time.

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