By Kelly Wise Valdes
Jesuit Church – Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne’s Jesuit Church is the first sizeable baroque church built north of the Alps in Switzerland. The beautiful and historical church emphasizes the Catholic tradition of reverence of saints. Recently, Osprey Observer Assignment Editor, Michelle Colesanti, visited this extraordinary and iconic church.
The history of the church dates back to the Jesuit order of Catholic priests in 1534 as a reaction to the Reformation ideas spreading through Europe. In western Switzerland, Protestantism was becoming dominant, but central Switzerland was remaining Catholic. Financed by a wealthy mayor, the City of Lucerne provided a building where the Jesuits established a college.
The church was the work of architects from Italy and Austria that collaborated to design and construct it in 1666. The church was built directly across from the iconic Chapel Bridge on the edge of the River Ruess. The elegant baroque church was dedicated in 1677 and reflected a renewal of the Catholic Church.
White, gray and rose colored sculptures embellish the white interior. The altar is constructed of a pink faux marble, which is prominent in the Southern Alps where genuine marble is hard to transport. Over the entrance door is the sculpture of the patron saint of the church, the Jesuit Missionary St. Francis Xavier, also present in a recessed ceiling painting. The domes of the bell towers were built in the 19th century.
While remaining a major tourist attraction for visitors to Lucerne, the religious life of the Jesuit Church is no longer active. However, organ recitals and many concerts are regularly held in the sanctuary. For more information, visit www.jesuitenkirche-luzern.ch.