The Marienberg Pilgrimage Church is referred to as the “Pearl of the Salzach Valley”. When the Cistercians moved their abbey from Schützing to Raitenhaslach, there was already a Marienberg “Capella”. Over the centuries, the church has been renovated, expanded and reconstructed, most recently in 1760.
For the new church, Abbot Emmanuel II Mayr commissioned court master mason Franz Alois Mayr (1723-1771) from Trostberg. The frescos are the work of Munich painter Martin Heigl, a student of Johann Baptist Zimmermann, whose body of work focuses on the Virgin Mary.
Prince Archbishop Sigismund of Salzburg consecrated the church on 1 May 1765. To reach the church visitors must climb the 50 steps, which represent the 50 Ave Marias of the Rosary. Upon entering the church, the room and its decor leave a lasting impression. In the middle of the room is the high altar with its 7th century image of the Miraculous Madonna by Johann Georg Lindt – one of the sculptors resident in Burghausen from 1758. The Virgin Mary is depicted as a Queen of Heaven with a sceptre in her hand and Baby Jesus in her arms, surrounded by angels and saints. The side altars were crafted at the workshop of Georg Lindt and Georg Kapfer. The paintings on the Anna and Bernhard altars are the work of Peter Lorenzoni, and those on the crucifix and Johannes altars are by Wilhelm Epple.
The seat of the parish was moved from Marienberg to Raitenhaslach in 1806, and the church at Marienberg was closed and turned over for demolition. The Miraculous Madonna and other interior features were brought to Raitenhaslach and some were sold at auction.
The long “fight for Marienberg” began when the Marienberg farmers protested against Judge Franz von Armansperg’s order to have the church torn down. Some of the protesters even locked themselves inside the church as “resistance fighters”. A begging letter was sent to the Bavarian Crown Prince and later to King Ludwig I himself to great avail, for the church held its first service again on 29 August 1811. The Miraculous Madonna was then returned to Marienberg on 15 January 1815.
All those who have contributed to this masterpiece have performed a service to the glorification of the Mother of God. The latest renovations from 2001 to 2011 also served this purpose. For centuries on end, pilgrims, worshippers and petitioners have all come here. For many, a journey here has given them strength and their prayers have been answered, and this will continue long into the future.
The ceiling paintings are the first high point of Martin Heigl’s career as a fresco artist. Raitenhaslach Abbey provided him with a lot of work. The paintings in the pilgrimage church all make reference to the Mother of God and the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The image above the high altar depicts the Annunciation, to the north is the Visitation, opposite is the Nativity, above the organ is the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and on the underside of the gallery is the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple.
The cuppola paintings present the observer with different levels and places – a ship with angels and people, representatives of the great Orders: Benedict, Bernhard of Clairvaux, Dominicus, Norbert and Franciscus together on a cloud. We can see a lighthouse as a signpost to Christ and a shipwreck as a symbol of apostasy or the abandonment of faith, but there is also an image of paradise with the tree of life at its centre.The highlight of the painting is the Gates of Heaven framed with roses, ortraying angels leading people to their destination.
The church is open from Easter until the end of October.
For enquiries regarding church services, prayers or church tours:
Raitenhaslach parish office
T. +49 8677 2133
F. +49 8677 918790