Undiscovered Gems: Four Must-Visit Catholic Churches in Vienna, Austria

Going into the field school at Vienna, Austria I did not expect anything at all. More than anything, I was just curious as to why we were going to Vienna. What is there to see in Vienna? I thought it was a very unpopular destination.

The day we landed was Sunday and we had a spare time to walk around the city before our orientation class began. It was quite interesting because the city centre area where we stayed at was so quiet and we did not see a lot of people around. Most shops are closed and only a couple of the restaurants are open. I looked back at this after knowing that Catholicism is the predominant religion in Austria. It made more sense. Sundays are rest days for Catholics.

Knowing this, I was not surprised to see a lot of churches around. I have known from pictures online how grand Catholic Churches in Europe can be, and the ones in Vienna are no exception.

Each church has its own beauty and every time I visit one, I feel really grateful as it is always different to see a church in picture as it is to see it in person. Vienna being an unpopular destination, I had no idea how churches would look like and so I wanted to share my experience and list down the four churches that I think you must see when you visit Vienna.


 

1)      Jesuit Church (aka University of Vienna Church)

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Built in 1627 when the Jesuits merged its college with the University of Vienna’s theology faculty, this baroque styled church’s interior is embellished with marble pillars.

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It was originally dedicated to St. Ignatius Loyola (a well-known Jesuit) and St. Francis Xavier. After being redesigned by Andrea Pozzo in 1703, the church was dedicated to the Assumption of Mary.


2) Church of the Teutonic Order (aka Church of St. Elisabeth of Hungary)

Built in 1325, this gothic and baroque styled church is consecrated to St. Elisabeth of Hungary. While the interior is beautiful, it is more interesting to note the story of the saint it was consecrated to. It is amazing because this woman is an example who defied the belief: “if you are rich, you cannot be kind”

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As a summary: St. Elisabeth of Hungary was born in 1207 at Hungary as a royal princess. After her mother was murdered at a young age, she sought peace through prayer. She married at age 14 to a man named Ludwig whom she greatly loved and she bore three children. She died at the age of 24. Throughout her short life, she has lived a life filled with prayer and service to the poor. According to history, she founded a hospital where she personally attended to the sick. She was a “model for those in authority” as Pope Benedict XVI said. (Source: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=45)

3) St. Peter’s Church (in German: Peterskirche)

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Built in 1733, this baroque styled church design was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

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This is where we got a chance to see a classic ensemble concert live. Vienna being a city of music, we cannot miss seeing an opera concert. They played Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Vivaldi. It was so beautiful!

The Classic Ensemble Vienna occupied by two violins, a cello and a double bass, will take you on a journey of the most beautiful works of European classical music. Including some of the most famous pieces drawn from the repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi. You can discover, or rediscover, excerpts of such well known works as The Four Seasons, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Bach's Orchestral suites. The musicians of the Classic Ensemble Vienna will provide an unforgettable evening in the capital of classical music.

Source: https://www.musicofvienna.com/classic-ensemble-vienna.htm

4) St. Stephen’s Cathedral (in German: Stephansdom)

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Located in the heart of Vienna, this cathedral is not to be missed. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna.

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With Romanesque Baroque style and a colorful roof, it is a witness to the rich history of Vienna. It went through a destruction in World War II but was reconstructed and now it is very much alive in the centre of the city. 

My journey and search for hidden gems, catholic churches and beautiful destinations around the world continue. Until then. Danke! 


With love,

JS


A lesson in LOVE | Breaking the walls down

I bet you have already heard the quote “To love at all is to be vulnerable” by C.S. Lewis

Yes, this is a good old quote that has been said and heard a million times. However, I feel that sometimes we do not fully grasp the meaning of this until we further reflect in on ourselves. Yes, ourselves—looking at ourselves first.

I am currently in a mentorship program and I was given the opportunity to talk to different people with different backgrounds from different parts of the world. Recently, it dawned on me how my unwillingness to be more vulnerable is holding me back to succeed and to fully understand and help others—and thus, to truly loving them. After our activities, I remembered my mentor saying, “You are struggling to go deep because you are afraid to go deep yourself”. And I know that is right.

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“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”

- C.S. Lewis

Why am I so afraid to be vulnerable?

Why do I equate being vulnerable as a weakness?

Can I not see that maybe, what is holding me back to really love someone and being loved back is my own wrong perception of vulnerability?

Can I not see how I am losing the ability to connect with others and possibly impact their lives because I am so afraid to be vulnerable?

Asking these deep questions to myself first help me to really root out the hindrances that keep me away from loving and being excellent.

Brene Brown on her book Daring Greatly said that we’ve come to the point when “we spend our lives pushing away and protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or from being perceived as ‘too emotional’ and we feel shame when other people can mask their feelings, suck it up and soldier on.”  (33)

This is the reality that we live in. We cannot blame ourselves though, because it’s part of being human (especially if your personality is a stronger one). We dislike uncertainty, we do not want to take a huge risk, we do not want to get hurt, we do not want to feel rejected, we do not want to emotionally expose ourselves for the fear of being seen as weak and for being judged. It’s like the society has labelled FEELING DEEPLY as being UGLY or a FAILURE or being LAME. It is also not surprising nowadays how we hide behind our gadgets, we make ourselves “VERY BUSY” so that we could not deal with any feelings.


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Brene Brown:

We spend our lives pushing away and protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or from being perceived as ‘too emotional’

But wouldn’t you agree that it is exactly through sharing our feelings, the deepest feelings, that we truly connect with each other and learn how to love? Isn’t it exactly through being open to vulnerability that we can learn more about the other person’s deepest desires and worries, and know how to better help that person?

And why would we not want that? What is a life not spent on loving and being loved in return? If we look closer, don’t our hearts ultimately long for that real love and connection?

After all, we are made for Love (Jesus) and we feel most fully alive when we love. (And I am not just talking about being in a romantic type of love, but all types of love) But why do we hold back so much?

Needless to say, I am definitely guilty of being afraid to be vulnerable. But after further reflections on myself and remembering that God is telling me to continue to “love like Him”, I know that I need to go beyond myself. I need to think less of the danger that I am exposing myself with and to trust more in God.  (And this is where surrendering/the art of letting go comes in)

To love is to become courageous, to allow yourselves to be naked emotionally and to be willing to take on the risks of being hurt and disappointed tremendously. (And believe me, for a woman like me who likes to have more control and answers before I invest in something, this is not easy). But here is the challenge that lies in front of me-- God is calling me to love and to be excellent, but how can I do that if I am not being open to being vulnerable?

It is not easy, but I think I could get better at this. We all could get better at this.

I am learning these past few days that one good and practical way to love others is to be intentional and to ask more questions that are deeper (go further than surface level questions such as “hey how are you”). Sometimes we struggle on how to do this, and now I realized it is because we are afraid of going deep in ourselves. This is why it is essential to spend time in prayer and reflections, because truly getting to know ourselves first will help us to love others better.

I hope that you find the time to pray and reflect today. <3


Love,
Joy