The Chapel of Augustusburg Palace

 

A Prince Elect is appropriately entitled to have proper palace chapel, especially when being an archbishop which is why Augustusburg Palace does have a rather lavishly furnished chapel.  

 

Contrary to the palace, the chapel is not a new building but was transformed from the former Franciscan church into a baroque place of worship. As usual Clemens August had his own ideas on how a church should look like and had this ideas implemented in the planning . His "new" church should be a baroque building, though the decision to transform the existing building was only made in 1735, about seven years after the brick shell of the palace was finished.

 

Of course, Clemens August was notoriously short of cash and it also appears that there was no overall plan for the construction of the entire complex. Surprisingly enough, the existing church was not raised to the ground and rebuilt but the core of the building and, therefore, even someth gothic elements were conserved.

 

augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Palace Chapel in Bruehl - Saint Mary of the Angels
logo raymond loyal photography
Logo

 

The history of the Palace Chapel

 

The laying of the foundation stone was in 1491 on the initiative of the then Prince Elect and and archbishop of Cologne, Hermann von Hessen. After a constrution time of two years the church was finished in 1493 and consecrated Saint Mary of the Angels.

 

The church was build as a single nave longhouse and in gothic style. Instead of a more representative tower only a ridge turred with a bell was added. Simultaneously the Franciscan monestary was built. The south wall of the  church connected directly with the monastery, which is why up to our days there are no windows in this wall. The church had several doors and also a direct passage from the monastery was available.

 

The high altar of the church is placed in the choir at the eastern side of the longhouse, only closed off by a wrought-iron screen.

 

Before the choir, in the layroom, there are four niches each in the south wall and in the north wall. Another two niches, one in each wall, are equipped with an altar. The baptismal font is in a niche in the north wall, close to the choir screen.

 

A baroque organ was only added in 1633 and was placed above the entrance.

 

Because the church was consecrated to Saint Mary there is a Lady chapel in the south wall of the church.

 

When Clemens August made plans for the re-construction of the church he first had an oratory built which was the link between the orangery and the church. What once used to be an austere gothic church became a splendid rococo church. A new choir screen is added, separating the layroom from the choir and putting on display the many coats of arms of the Prince Elect. In front of the screen there are two side altars. A new chancel is also added now, being placed at the south wall, behind which the monastery used to be. Access to the chancel is from behind the wall through a separate door. The high altar is a masterpiece of Balthasar Neumann.

 

When French troops occupied the Rhineland in 1802, the church remained with the Franciscan Order but was later secularised by the French. Only in 1807 the house is given back to the parish to be used as church again.

 

The heavy air raid on Brühl on December 28th 1944 nearly completely destroyed the church, because of two bomb hits. Restauration only started in 1949 and was finalised in 1953.

 

 

The Nave of the Chapel

 

In our days the nave of the Bruehl palace chapel is the central aisle lined with wooden benches of both sides, passages are also possible alongside the southern and northern wall. The church is single nave long house witth an ogival groin vault which rests on a pilaster made abutement wall. The northern wall and the vault are painted in baroque-style rose with the vault groin kept in blue.

 

Even from afar, when entering the church, the visitor is overwhelmed by a stately and flamboyant view of the high altar in the choir. A lady chapel, enclosed by a grid, is lodged in the southern wall of the church. The grid is open.

 

augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Bruehl Palace Chapel
augustusburg palace chapel
The vaulted groin of the chapel with the organ prospectus
augustusburg palace chapel
A bit more of the vaulted groin

augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg palace chapel - vaulted groin with keystone

 

The Side Altars

 

Directly after and in front of the choir screen are two side altars placed in an inclined position, one on the left wall and one on the right wall. Because of the heavy air raid in 1944 the church was so heavily damaged that the side altars had to be re-constructed. Today's side altars are not the originals.

 

The inclined position of the side altars opens the way through the gate of the choir screen and also points in the direction of the high altar in the choir. The marble-made side altars are typical baroque-style artworks even though the execution of the artwork is not too exuberant. Both altars consists of the altar table, and arcades with the tabernacle. There are two sets of double columns on both sides of the altar table, bearing  a crowning entablature on which the crown of the Prince Elect is sitting. Puti adorn the entablature.

 

A sculpture is placeed on the pedestal, between the sets of double columns. On the left hand side we find Saint Francis (crossed arms) and on the right hand side there is Saint Antony cradeling baby Jesus. Both saints are the most senior saints in the Order of Francis.

 

The side altar on the left side shows the alliance coat of arms of the five dieceses and on the right side alter we see the house coat of arms of the House of Wittelsbach.

 

Although both side altars look similar both artworks have a different style; the applicatin of puti to the altars is similar on both works.

 

 

augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Palace Chapel - Left side altar in front of the choir screen
augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Palace Chapel - Left side altar in front of the choir screen

augustusburg palace chapel
Side altar with entablatur and coat of arms in a cartouch with strapwork
augustusburg palace chapel
side altar etablature and coat of arms
augustusburg palace chapel
Right side altar with pedestal

augustusburg palace chapel
Left side altar with double column, capitals and entablature
augustusburg palace chapel
Right side altar with double column, capitals and entablature

 

The Choir Screen in Augustusburg Palace Chapel

 

The gothic church knows a spatial separation between the choir with the high altar and the so-called lay room. The choir was exclusive to monks and priests, the clericals. That separation is called choir screen or rood screen and was either made from wood or stone and was not only a separation between layman and clergy but also a liturgical place. Sermons and readings were hold in front of the choir screen.

 

The choir screen is equipped with passages or doors to allow the clergy to go in and out. The passage from the layman area to the choir is marked by one or more steps. At Saint Mary of the Angels we only have one step. Directly after that is the ambo, shortly after the pulpit is mounted on the right wall and after that the side altars are right in front of the screen.

 

The baroque church dropped the idea of wooden or stonemade screens and instead went for ornamented wrought-iron grids, partly gildet, with a central gate, leading to the choir and choir stalls in front of the high altar.

 

At Saint Mary of the Angels the screen is all about baroque style art and also a demonstration of the Prince's Elect powers, which was Clemens August I., at that time. Over the two-part door sits the Prince's Elect coat of arms with his name and the crown. The decorated grid elements bear the  coat of arms of the Teutonic Knights (door) and of the dieceses where Clemens August was archbishop.

 

 

augustusburg palace chapel
Palace Chapel Brühl - Saint Mary of the Angels. A view of the choir screen and the high altar behind it.
augustusburg palace chapel
Saint Mary of the Angels- Palace Chapel Brühl. Grid element of the choir screen
augustusburg palace chapel
Palace Chapel Brühl - Coat of arms Wittelsbach-Pfalz
augustusburg palace chapel
Teutonic Knights coat of arms
augustusburg palace chapel
Palace Chapel Brühl - Coat of arms of the Cologne diecese

augustusburg palace chapel
Coat of arms at the choir screen
augustusburg palace chapel
Diecese of Paderborn coat of arms

augustusburg palace chapel
Close-up of the Teutonic Knights coat of arms at the choir screen

 

The Prince's Elect Coat of Arms in the Chapel

 

After having examined the choir screen we look beyond it only to find out that choir and high altar are extremely characterised by the then Prince Elect Clemens August I. Nowadays we would call it self-marketing back in the 18th century even a church was sort of showpiece for its master. The coat of arms are more than omnipresent. Of course, as the archbishop of five dieceses Osnabrück, Paderborn, Cologne, Hildesheim and Munster, these coat of arms are also present; let alone the coat of arms of the Teutotinc Knights, where Clemens August was grandmaster.

 

 

augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Palace Chapel - Coat of Arms of Clemens August I.
augustusburg palace chapel
Coat of arms of the Prince Elect
augustusburg palace chapel
Clemens August I. coat of arms in the choir

 

The new Baptismal Font

 

In the course of the re-construction of the church after World-War II, the baptismal font was also renewed and sits in a niche opposite the Lady chapel.

 

augustusburg palace chapel
New Baptismal Font at Saint Mary of the Angels - Augustusburg Palace Chapel

 

The Lady Chapel

 

The lady chapel is lodged in a niche in the south wall of the church. The round-arched vault is adored with stucco ornaments. On both sides, above the arched arch, pilaster are added, bearing a broken cornice in which Saint Mary is depicted on cloud cradling baby Jesus. The shell is present in all ornaments, which is typical for the baroque. Three heads of puti are on display, twice in a shell. Two puti stand in front of the Lday shrine holding a curtain.

 

 

augustusburg palace chapel
Lady chapel at Saint Mary of the Angels
augustusburg palace chapel
The Lady chapel at Saint Mary of the Angels
augustusburg palace chapel
Lady chapel at Saint Mary of the Angels
augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Palace Chapel - Saint Mary of the Angels
augustusburg palace chapel
Stucko ornaments at the Lady chapel - a cartouche with strapwork
augustusburg palace chapel
Lady chapel with ornaments

augustusburg palace chapel
Symmetric cartouche with roccaille, shell and puto
augustusburg palace chapel
Ornament with rose and foliage
augustusburg palace chapel
Symmetric cartouche with roccaille, shell and puto

augustusburg palace chapel
Asymmetrical cartouche with roccaile and foliage
augustusburg palace chapel
Augustusburg Palace Chapel - roccaile, cartouches, shells

 

The Organ

 

The original of the 1633 baroque organ became victim to a bombing raid on Brühl in 1944 and was completely destroyed. In the course of rebuilding the church a similar organ from 1727 was found. That organ originally was built for the Franciscan church in Lechenich and incorporated into Saint Maurtius church in the small Eifel town of Weilerswist in the 19th century. Reconstruction and installation into Saint Mary was finalised in 1967. The sculptures shown on the organ prospectus are the harp playing king David accompanied by Angels playing instruments.

 

augustusburg palace chapel
The organ prospectus at Saint Mary of the Angels
augustusburg palace chapel
The harp playing king David with two Angels on the trumpet
augustusburg palace chapel
Angels playing music
augustusburg palace chapel
Angels playing music

augustusburg palace chapel
Part of the organ prospect