As promised, a bit about my recent trip to Vienna, Austria. Here we have Stephansdom, the Cathedral of Vienna and the seat of Cardinal Archbishop Christopher Schonborn, located in the heart of the city center and dedicated to St. Stephan Protomartyr.
It should be noted that we were painted a rather dire picture of the Church in Austria - low attendance rates, coupled with a government/Church tax system that seems to create a sort of "entitlement" mentality toward the sacraments. And, quite frankly, a sort of post-modern anti-Christian attitude has set in. Just in the few days I was there, major newspapers had hideous headlines and cartoons against the Holy Father, mostly in regards to an episcopal appointment that had been announced recently. But, ironically, my companions and I had to go to Stephansdom three times to tour since each time a Mass was being held and tours were limited.
I'll let you wikipedia the cathedral for historical details. So, on to the pictures.
The first photo is of the exterior of the cathedral. This is the North side and on the South side and front facade, extensive cleaning is taking place. The cathedral was saved during the Second World War, but over the centuries dust and pollution and fires have taken their toll.
Next, is a picture of yours truly on the same North side. This first interior shot shows the South side side-aisle. Notice the "side" altars. All of them are on the center pillars and they all face the same direction, toward the high altar. My guess, and that is exactly what it is, a guess, is that these altars are all facing East, though the church is built on a sort of south-east axis.Here is a shot of the sanctuary and high altar. Notice the stained glass directly behind the altar and the glass in the nave. The glass was blown out during the Second World War, but the glass behind the altar is original and somehow was able to endure the Allied bombardment.
Here I am on the left standing in front of the ambo which was peculiarly postioned near the back of the nave by the main doors. The extensive stone carvings leave a tremendous impression. The railing leading the steps up to the top of the ambo was lined with various animals such as lizards and frogs as a reminder to the preacher that he is not God, but merely of the earth. Good lesson.