THE AUGUSTINIAN CHURCH
The Augustinian Church was one of the important stations in the life of every member of the House of Habsburg. It is here where they were baptized and where they married – and to where they would forever after consign their hearts.
This great Gothic church is where Empress Maria Theresa1 married Francis Stephan of Lorraine, Emperor Franz Joseph I married Elisabeth – Sisi, Crown Prince Rudolf married Princess Stephanie and the French Emperor Napoleon married his Habsburgian wife Marie-Louise.
The imperial family had a tradition that was a bit like that of the Pharaohs: After the death of a Habsburg the heart and viscera were removed from the body according to strict ceremony. The sovereign bodies were then embalmed and entombed in the nearby Imperial Crypt9 . The viscera were laid to rest in St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the hearts in the so-called “Heart Crypt” in the Augustinian Church: 54 Habsburgian hearts are forever safeguarded in silver urns here in the Augustinian Church.
The Habsburgs are still today deeply connected to the Augustinian Church. The last architectural addition to date occurred as recently as 2004: A new side altar dedicated to the beatified Emperor Charles I, the last emperor of Austria. The feast day of the “Blessed Emperor” is on October 21, the day of his wedding to Empress Zita.
THE AUGUSTINIAN CHURCH -HABSBURG DYNASTY AS THE PHARAOHS ON THE DANUB Photo Gallery
The church, which is inconspicuous from the outside, houses further objects of interest inside. The tomb of Archduchess Maria Christina , the favorite daughter of Empress Maria Theresa, boasts the most expensive tombstone of its time. Her husband Albert of Saxony-Tesche, the founder of the largest graphic museum in the world, the Albertina, loved his wife so much that after Maria Christina died an untimely death he commissioned the best and most expensive sculptor of the time, the Venetian Antonio Canova, to create a unique monument to his love out of precious Carrara marble. The famous sculptor was so impressed by his own work that he had a copy made for his own tomb in the Frari Church in Venice.
Due to its two organs the Augustinian Church has always had great prestige in the music world: Franz Schuber conducted his Mass in F Major here and Anton Bruckner premiered his Mass in F minor.
Still today you can enjoy outstanding concerts of sacred music in the Augustinian Church. Thus a special cultural pointer: Visit the Sunday mass in the Augustinian Church. It is celebrated with an orchestra and choir.
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