Klosterkirche der Barmherzigen Brüder:
Another Baroque Church in Vienna
The Barmherzige Brüder (Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God) are a Roman Catholic order founded by St. John of God. The order runs hospitals all over Austria. In Vienna, the brothers have a well-known hospital in the second district, the Leopoldstadt. The hostpital alongside with an associated pharmacy exists since 1614. The monastery and the church of the Barmherzigen Brüder was probably built and developed between 1622 and 1655; precise records are not known, since a fire destroyed the monastery and its archives in 1655. In the following years, the church and the monastery were re-built.
In 1672, the Spanish brother Jose a Cruce Cruchten delivered a special present from Queen Anna of Spain, for her cousin, Emperor Leopold I (this was the period, when the Spanish and the German/Austrian Habsburg lines were already divided into two): A relic of the founder St. John of God, who had lived in and around Granada for most of his life (the pomegranate is still the sign of the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God).
Later this year, a painting of the Holy Family was added to the relic; it is locally known for a mysterious inscription with unknown meaning on the back of the canvas. Despite of such fancy attractions, the church was not officially opened for ten years. The opening ceremony took place in 1682 - the year before the Second Siege of Vienna through the Turkish Armies. The troops used the church as a stable and damaged it severely.
Interiors of the Kirche der Barmherzigen Brüder
Most of the interiors and the relics had been stored within the city walls. The damages were fixed only slowly after the defeat of the Turks and the re-opening of the Kirche der Barmherzigen Brüder took place in 1694. It soon became too small for the increasing population of the Leopoldstadt. In 1733, the church was extended and re-built in late Baroque style.
The bell tower of the church was damaged in WWII an the roof had to be replaced; the original state was restored only in 1989. Most of the interiors of the Kirche der Barmherzigen Brüder dates back to 1733. A claim to fame for the Barmherzigen Brüder is that Joseph Haydn sang in the church′s choir as a boy between 1755 and 1758. In Vienna, however, the Barmherzigen Brüder are rather known for the hospital and for running the city′s oldest pharmacy.
Attractions nearby include the Produktenbörse and the Carmelite Church in the immediate surroundings of the Kirche der Barmherzigen Brüder; the Augarten with Palais Augarten and the Porcelain manufactory are in walking distance; so are the Prater and the Riesenrad; and once over the Donaukanal, you dive right into the first district with its innumerable sights.
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