The Franciscan Church

Franciscan Church with monastery and cloister
The simple sacred room, without a high bell tower, without vaults and ceiling paintings, was only consecrated in 1697. For a long time, the college of canons had resisted the arrival of the Franciscans, fearing that the order, committed to the ideal of poverty, would attract beggars. The cloister is home to 31 panels on Francis of Assisi by Lukas Platzer (1706-1709).

The Church

The plain construction of the Franciscan and Capuchin collegiate churches built during the Counter Reformation stands out from those of traditional monasteries. The construction plan was drawn up by Franciscan friar Vitus Rastbichler. To highlight the ideal of poverty, a high bell tower, vaults and ceiling frescoes were omitted. Attached to the nave in the entrance area is the small Antonius chapel, intended for private devotions. Originally, the monks said Divine Office in the gallery. Of the original decorations of the church, only the large oil paintings on the side altars and the Franciscan saints on the south wall still exist today. Today’s altars all date back to the Rococo. The restoration in 1992 brought the monastery closer to its original appearance for which it won the Europa Nostra Award for cultural heritage conservation in 1994.

The Cloister

The cloister with its simple barrel vault is home to what is called the St Francis cycle: 31 large-format panel paintings with 72 scenes from the life and times of the founder of the order. This most comprehensive story of the life of St Francis in the world, dating from the beginning of the 18th century, is the work of friar Lukas Plazer. The panels were donated by wealthy citizens and the aristocracy; their names are written on each picture. Thanks to this, the panels also provide information about the social structure in Alta Pusteria in the late 17th century.
The rooms that are important for monastic life are grouped around the cloister: the gate, laundry room, kitchen and cellar rooms, refectory and sacristy.

The Altars

The high altar impresses with skilfully crafted wood inlays created by regional carpenters from various types of indigenous trees. The high altarpiece with Mary and the Child Jesus and the saints Leopold and Francis is the work of Christoph Unterberger, a creative artist in Rome and a graduate of the Vienna Academy. The statues of Saint Bonaventure and Charles Borromeo, on either side of the high altarpiece, are by Johann Paterer, an important Baroque sculptor who learned his trade from the San Candido sculptor Matthias Schranzhofer.
The altar piece on the altar of Mary was originally located in the church of St. Mauritius. When the church was secularised in 1786, the painting came into the possession of the Zacher family, who donated it to the monastery as a replacement for the altarpiece that was destroyed in the monastery fire.
On the right side altar are depictions of Peter of Alcántara and Theresa of Avila, the left side altar is decorated with a picture of the Immaculata.

Funeral monuments

Throughout the church there are several funeral monuments of people who have rendered outstanding services to the church. The grave of benefactor Michael Dinzl is in the choir; canons Dominikus Schraffl and Johann Kaspar Troyer were buried in the Antonius Chapel.

St. John of Nepomuk

The sculpture opposite the pulpit is another gem of the church. The nearby Rio Sesto repeatedly caused damage to the monastery. The saint, who came from Bohemia, was believed to protect it from this. The statue is the work of San Candido woodcarver Andreas Fasching. His son Johann created the large Baroque crib, which is placed in the Antonius chapel during Advent.