Image of grace Mariahilf

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Maria Hilf (miraculous image) (Lucas Cranach the Elder)
Maria Hilf (miraculous image)
Lucas Cranach the Elder , after 1537
on wood
78.5 x 47.1 cm
St. Jakob Cathedral in Innsbruck

The miraculous image of Mariahilf is a work by Lucas Cranach the Elder , created after 1537. It is located in the high altar of Innsbruck Cathedral . The image of grace was copied very often. The motif became one of the most widespread images of the Virgin Mary in Tyrol , southern Germany and the Alpine region .

Image description

The picture of the Madonna shows a young woman dressed in the style of the common people, turned half-left, sitting in a three-quarter figure against a dark background, holding a naked child on her lap. The woman wears a blue petticoat and a red robe, her long blonde hair is combed back and is held in place by a headband. Her head is covered by a thin transparent veil, which also falls over the head of the child, who is erect and turned to the mother and grasps her cheek with his right hand. Except for the red-blue color combination of her clothing, which is typical for depictions of Mary, the woman has no recognizable attributes of Mary or saints . The image type, however, goes back to the Byzantine Eleousa ( Glykophilousa ), a form of representation of Mary with the child, with the child nestling against the mother's face.


Lucas Cranach, court painter from Electoral Saxony and friend of Martin Luther , painted the picture for the Saxon court in Dresden . Archduke Leopold V chose it as a present on a visit and brought the picture from Dresden first to Passau , where he was bishop , and then to Innsbruck , where he was regent. During the Thirty Years' War it was publicly venerated at Marian devotions , and around 1650 the Innsbruckers received it for their parish church, today's cathedral.

The picture became the epitome of Mary, the help of Christians and has become very widespread in countless copies and variations, especially in the Alpine region, as an altarpiece in churches and chapels, as religious facade painting and as a private devotional picture. The early copies include the copy donated in 1660 for the Mariahilf Church in Vienna or the copy painted in 1671 in the Church of St. Dionysus in Neunkirchen. The motif also found its way into votive pictures and other representations with an extended context.

In 1989 the picture was a stamp motif of the Austrian Post for the motif 25 Years Diocese of Innsbruck 1989 .

Copies of the miraculous image

Copies of the picture as a painting, partly also as sculptures, which often became the center of one's own pilgrimages , can be found among others. a. in:





North Rhine-Westphalia




Lower Austria

Upper Austria

State of Salzburg






  • Malegno : Chiesa di Sant'Andrea Vecchia



  • Rovereto : Archparish Church of San Marco
  • Segonzano: Sanctuary of the "Madonna dell'Aiuto" pilgrimage church
  • Fiera di Primiero: Church "Madonna dell'Aiuto"
  • Lodrone di Storo
  • Nogaredo
  • Castel Pietra near Calliano



Czech Republic







  • Martina Stifter: The Mariahilf picture . Looked closely. In: Tauern window . 2004, p. 96–99 ( [1] , [PDF; accessed on October 3, 2018] about the Cranach image of grace in St. Jakob in Innsbruck and its influence on representations in Prettau , Tyrol).

Web links

Commons : Gnadenbild Mariahilf  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Max J. Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg: The paintings of Lucas Cranach , Basel and Stuttgart 1979, No. 393
  2. z. B. Votive picture from 1850 in the Museum of European Cultures, Berlin, Inv. No. D (32 K 254) 343/1961
  3. Sulz parish in the Vienna Woods: Connected in Christ ( Memento from February 19, 2005 in the Internet Archive ). In: .