Cross with choir vault in Lorch Monastery church

A key role during LentCrucifix

Only a few of the furnishings from Lorch's time as a monastery remain. A precious sculpture still remains in the choir of the former monastery church today: a crucifix from the first half of the 16th century with remnants of the original paint.

Close-up of the crucifix in Lorch Monastery church

A large sculpture with a small secret.

Masterpiece from Ulm

The mighty statue was created in an Ulm studio. The old imperial city on the Danube was a center for woodcarving in the late Gothic period. The Lorch Monastery crucifix divulges a special secret to visitors who look closely. The shoulder joints of the dead Christ are movable hinges, and the arms of the sculpture can be laid on the body. Why was this sculpture on the cross made with movable arms more than 500 years ago?

Passion concert in the church at Lorch Monastery

Concert with Gregorian chants.

Requisite for the Passion liturgy

At Lent, in the days before Easter, the story of Christ's suffering was reenacted. The movable crucifix was used in such Passion plays: The body of the dead Christ was ceremonially removed from the cross during the service, and its arms were laid on its body. The wooden "corpse" was then wrapped in cloths and carried to the grave. In some places, this tradition continued into the 17th century. The Lorch Monastery crucifix was also once an important part of the Lenten service.

A vivid story of suffering

The works of art in a church served a function during services. Particularly during Lent, there were liturgical traditions that used dramatization to help worshipers truly experience the story of Christ's suffering. Many churches had a "holy sepulcher" in imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The sculpture of Christ was buried there on Good Friday. Likewise, his resurrection on Easter was celebrated with a physical reenactment. Such "holy sepulchers" are found in the monastery churches of Schussenried and Schöntal.

View of the church and crucifix, Lorch Monastery

The crucifix dominates the inside of the church.

Precious remembrance of historic spirituality

Over the centuries, the Lorch Monastery church lost almost all of the riches it had acquired the Middle Ages. The crucifix from a first-class studio in Ulm is one of the last remnants of those riches. Today, the ancient sculpture is no longer in use, as it is too delicate. But even when viewing it in its original place in the church, on thing is clear: A service in the Benedictine monastery of Lorch must once have been a truly impressive experience.

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