St. Michael (Munich)

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Institute Church St. Michael (Jesuit Church)

Jesuit Church of St. Michael

Basic data
Denomination Roman Catholic
place Munich , Germany
diocese Archdiocese of Munich and Freising
Patronage archangel Michael
Building history
Client Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria
architect Friedrich Sustris and Wendel Dietrich
construction time April 18, 1583 - July 6, 1597
Building description
inauguration July 6, 1597
Architectural style Renaissance / Baroque
Furnishing style Renaissance / Baroque
Function and title

College Church of the Jesuit Order

Coordinates 48 ° 8 '19.8 "  N , 11 ° 34' 13.9"  E Coordinates: 48 ° 8 '19.8 "  N , 11 ° 34' 13.9"  E

The catholic Jesuit church St. Michael in Munich - Altstadt was built between 1583 and 1597 and is dedicated to the Archangel Michael . The church building is at the transition from Renaissance and Baroque emerged. Many building ideas were adopted by " Il Gesù ", the Roman mother church of the Jesuits. The Munich “Michaelskirche” became a model for many baroque churches in German-speaking countries. St. Michael was also the spiritual center of the Counter Reformation in Bavaria .


St. Michael (Neuhauser Str. 6) is located in the pedestrian zone, roughly in the middle between Marienplatz and Stachus on the southern edge of the Kreuzviertel . It forms the south-eastern end of the Wilhelminum building complex. Nearby, to the east of the church, was the moat of the Leon city fortifications, the eastern gate of which, the Schöne Turm , together with the protruding wing of the St. Michael College, in which the high school was housed (today the Hettlage department store) Enhanced the widening of Neuhauser Straße to make it a visually closed place. This gives St. Michael a particularly prestigious location on the Salzstrasse .


In 1556, Duke Albrecht V agreed with the Jesuits to set up a secondary school in Munich, today's Wilhelmsgymnasium . In order to provide adequate and modern rooms for the Jesuit order and the secondary school, a new building was necessary. However, these demands did not get beyond the planning stage during Albrecht V's lifetime.

St. Michael, Munich, around 1955

His son, Duke Wilhelm V , called the Pious , initiated the construction of a Jesuit college with a college church. At the same time, Wilhelm V, who decisively advanced the Counter-Reformation in Bavaria, wanted to use the building to give evidence of his spiritual origins, which he traced back to the Roman emperors Constantine and Justinian.

The foundation stone was laid on April 18, 1583. Presumably, the painter and ducal court artist Friedrich Sustris and the Augsburg carpenter Wendel Dietrich were responsible for the architectural designs , whereby the first is more the general design and the second individual details. Individual drawings by Sustris have been preserved. The mason Wolfgang Miller was responsible for the construction. The monumental barrel vault, which is still the second largest cantilevered barrel vault in the world, was pulled in in 1587/88. Despite pessimistic voices at the time, the barrel vault held up until 1944. In 1590 the tower collapsed and destroyed the choir; the barrel vault held against it. The construction work was stopped first. It was not until 1593 that work on St. Michael was resumed, probably under the direction and with plans of Friedrich Sustris. The church was consecrated on July 6, 1597. Wilhelm V's building enthusiasm (after all, St. Michael has clearly surpassed the size of the Jesuit mother church, Il Gesù in Rome ), on the verge of national bankruptcy . Nevertheless, St. Michael became the direct model for over 100 subsequent buildings.

The Jesuits looked after the church and college of St. Michael until the ban in 1773. In the same year, St. Michael became the court church . During the secularization the college and the church of St. Michael came into royal possession. They are still owned by the Free State of Bavaria today.

The Jesuits did not return to St. Michael until 1921. During the Second World War , especially in November 1944, St. Michael was badly damaged; the barrel vault collapsed. The reconstruction took place in the years 1946 to 1948. The barrel vault was bricked up again.

The facade was renovated in 1971/72. In 1981 the stucco decorations of the barrel vault were put back in place, the figure of Christ Salvator , which was destroyed in 1944, was put back in the gable as a reconstruction. From 2009 to 2013, the facade including its figures was renovated for over 4 million euros. The southern main facade was designed in a significantly lighter shade and now differs noticeably from the appearance of the remaining facades, which were not renovated.



Archangel Michael between the portals

The facade of the Michaelskirche was designed both courtly and sacred. The three-storey gable facade can be compared with the facade of a medieval town hall in terms of structure and classification in the street scene. Yet it has clear theological features. In the gable, Christ is enthroned as Salvator (Savior), directly below him in the niche on the ground floor the Archangel Michael , who kills all evil in this world with a lance in the fight for true faith. This bronze statue of the archangel and church patron, as the victor over Satan, comes from Hubert Gerhard (1588) and symbolically watches between the entrances. The lower floor with two portals is divided by Tuscan pilasters that extend from the base to the broad cornice. Various rulers are depicted between Christ and angels who, in the opinion of Wilhelm V, have made a name for themselves as fighters and defenders of the Christian faith in Bavaria. The duke himself is represented with the model of the church.

inner space

The inside of the church

The interior is a representation of the triumph of Catholicism as true Christianity during the Counter Reformation. The strongly recessed choir arch as well as the short transverse arms and even the side chapels are designed as a triumphal arch based on ancient models. The mighty nave with the very deep choir, which has a 5/10 apsidal closure, brings people of all ranks and classes together as one people of God. The nave depicts the life of Jesus: As a child, Christ can be seen on the inner wall of the facade. Angels in robes, who carry the tools of his suffering, accompany his path. Its goal is the cross that stands on the steps to the choir and was in the meantime in the transept. The choir above the crypt is the Resurrection Room, which leads to the high altar. There, the central focus of the whole church, Jesus shows himself as the Lord who comes again at the end of time. The saints depicted in the side altars bear witness to the belief that through Christ, in the end, truth is stronger than lies, justice stronger than profit, freedom stronger than violence.

Dimensions of the structure

  • Length: 78.20 m
  • Width: 20.29 m
  • Height: 28.16 m
  • Width of the choir: 18.00 m

Important works of art


Rieger organ (2011)

The history of the organs in St. Michael goes back to the year 1590, when an organ was set up there that was previously in the Lorenz Church at Altenhof. Urban Heusler built a new instrument in 1597. This was replaced by a new building in 1697: the organ was built by the organ builder Johann Georg Fux , the prospectus and case were designed by the Jesuit Br. Johann Hörmann. In 1896 the organ builder Franz Borgias Maerz built a new instrument in the historic case from 1697, which, however, had to be structurally adapted. The disposition draft came from Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger . In 1944 this instrument was completely destroyed in a bomb hit.

After the Second World War, a small organ was installed on the new gallery in 1953, which the organ builder Schuster (Munich) replaced with a new one in 1966. It was only after the old gallery construction was restored at the beginning of the 1980s that an adequate instrument could be built, which the organ builder Sandtner (Dillingen) supplied. The prospectus was reproduced in great detail based on a design by the Jesuit brother Johann Hörmann from 1697. The organ had 64 registers on four manuals and pedal , the playing and stop actions were mechanical.

In the years 2010–2011 the Sandtner organ was reorganized and expanded by the organ building company Rieger . The existing prospectus was retained and a large part of the pipe material from the previous organ (Sandtner organ 1982/83) was reused. The instrument was equipped with a new swell mechanism in the German-romantic style (IV. Manual work - newly built organ case in the first yoke to the left of the main organ). The French-style Récit-Expressiv got a new swell box in the middle of the housing, the blinds of which also open upwards. The plant organization was newly created (previously: HW, SW, BW, RP, P); The disposition was expanded in particular by a solo work (IV. Manual) with two (high pressure) solo registers (Tuba Mirabilis 8 ′ and Tuba Sonora 8 ′); the pedal was extended by a 32 'register (subset). The gaming table was rebuilt and provided with numerous playing aids (see below). The financing could largely be realized through donations from private sources, e.g. B. by selling pipe sponsorships. Today's Rieger organ has 75 stops on four manuals and a pedal. The instrument enables a very wide range of organ music to be interpreted in the right style and provides an ideal starting point for demanding improvisations.

I Rückpositiv C – a 3
1. Principal 8th'
2. Cane-covered 8th'
3. Quintad 8th'
4th Octave 4 ′
5. Reed flute 4 ′
6th Fifth 2 23
7th octave 2 ′
8th. third 1 35
9. Larigot 1 13
10. Scharff IV-V
11. Hopper shelf 8th'
12. Cromorne 8th'
II main work C – a 3
13. Praestant 16 ′
14th Principal 8th'
15th Principal II 8th'
16. Gamba 8th'
17th Flûte harm. 8th'
18th Covered 8th'
19th Octave 4 ′
20th recorder 4 ′
21st Fifth 2 23
22nd Octave 2 ′
23. Mixture V
24. Cimbel III
25th Cornet V 8th'
26th Trumpet 16 ′
27. Trumpet 8th'
III Récit C – a 3
28. Bourdon 16 ′
29 Montre 8th'
30th Flûte harm. 8th'
31. Bourdon 8th'
32. Viol 8th'
33. Voix Celeste 8th'
34. Octave 4 ′
35. Flûte traversière 4 ′
36. viola 4 ′
37. Nasard 2 23
38. Quarte de Nasard 2 ′
39. Tierce 1 35
40. Sifflet 1'
41. Fittings V.
42. Basson 16 ′
43. Trumpet harm. 8th'
44. Hautbois 8th'
45. Clairon harm. 4 ′
IV Swell C – a 3
46. viola 16 ′
47. Double flute 8th'
48. Gemshorn 8th'
49. Salicional 8th'
50. Aeoline 8th'
51. Unda Maris 8th'
52. Darling Dumped 8th'
53. Wooden flute 4 ′
54. Dolce 4 ′
55. flute 2 ′
56. Harm. aeth. III-V
57. Trumpet 8th'
58. clarinet 8th'
59. Vox Humana 8th'

IV solo work Ca 3
60. Tuba mirabilis 8th'
61. Tuba Sonora 8th'
Pedals C – f 1
62. Pedestal 32 ′
63. Principal 16 ′
64. Sub bass 16 ′
65. Violon 16 ′
66. Fifth 10 23
67. Octave 8th'
68. Violoncello 8th'
69. Bourdon 8th'
70. Octave 4 ′
71. Rear set IV-V
72. Bombard 32 ′
73. trombone 16 ′
74. Trumpet 8th'
75. Clairon 4 ′

  • Pairing :
    • Coupling: I / II, III / II, III / I, I / P, II / P, III / P,
    • Electrical coupling: IV / I, IV / II, IV / III, IV / P
  • Playing aids : Rieger Setzersystem (10 users with 1000 combinations each with 3 inserts; archive for 250 titles with 250 combinations each), four programmable crescendos, free manual allocation for solo tongues, sequence switching, copy and repeat function, factory storage, general storage

Tower and destroyed bells

When the tower of the church, which was not yet completely finished, collapsed and destroyed the choir , the duke's tax officials took this as a sign from heaven. With an eye on the tight state finances, they expressed their view to Wilhelm V and suggested that they dispense with a choir room altogether. He replied that he, too, thought that this was a sign from heaven, only he had come to the conclusion that the first choir room was far too small for such an important angel as the Archangel Michael . So a disproportionately long choir room to the north was created, as you can still see it today. The tower is now at the northern end of the nave, but lost the upper storey and its dome in the Second World War.

Duke Ferdinand donated the four-part bell that was cast by Hans Frey from Kempten in 1585. In addition to his face and coat of arms, the church bells bore the following inscriptions (in addition to a Latin psalm or hymn text, a reference to the bell founder in German):

No. Surname Chime inscription
1 St. Michael c 1 In conspectu angelorum psallam tibi, adorabo ad templum sanctum tuum. Dum sacrum mysterium cerneret Johannes, Archangelus Michaelis tuba cecinit. In God's house I give a lovely sound, Hans Frey von Kempten poured me so beautifully.

(Translation of the Latin part: Before the face of the angels I will sing praises to you, Lord. I will prostrate myself to your holy temple. When John recognized the holy mystery, the archangel Michael proclaimed it through the trumpet. - from Psalm 138 and one Alternating singing )

2 Ave Maria e 1 Ave Regina Coelorum, domina angelorum, salve Radix Sancta. Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae, vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve. To God's praise I poured here, Hans Frey von Kempten Undaunted.

(Translation of the Latin part: Greetings, Queen of Heaven, ruler of the angels, greetings, root from which salvation sprouted, greetings, Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our bliss and our hope, greetings! - from Ave Regina caelorum and Salve Regina )

3 apostle g 1 In omnem terram exivit sonus eorum et in finis orbis terrae verba eorum. Petrus Apostolus et Paulus doctor gentum docuerunt legem tuam. Everyone comes to my sound and praises God with Master Hansen Frey.

(Translation of the Latin part: their sound will ring over the whole earth, their words to the end of the world. Peter, an apostle, and Paul, a teacher, taught your law. - from another antiphon)

4th Agnus Dei c 2 Hoc signum crucis erit in coelo. Dicite in nationibus: Regnavit a ligno Deus. Hans Frey took me badly [= plain] metal and made English sound out of me.

(Translation of the Latin part: The sign of the cross will also be (seen) in heaven. Say among the peoples: God ruled down from the wood (= cross). )

In April 1944 a nocturnal attack destroyed the neighboring Bürgersaalkirche and caused severe damage to the tower of St. Michael, whereby the four bells melted, but fragments could be used in the casting of the second largest bell in the Theatinerkirche .

Wittelsbacher burial place

Sarcophagus of Ludwig II.

St. Michael was conceived from the beginning as the burial place of the House of Wittelsbach and therefore has a princely crypt which, along with the Theatine Church and the Frauendom, is one of the most important burial places of the Bavarian ruling house. Wilhelm V, who had his private rooms in the St. Michael College, was buried in the crypt at his own request, as was his son, Elector Maximilian I. From the second half of the 17th century, only the bodies of the deceased were usually buried here ; the hearts were mostly buried separately and buried in the Altötting Chapel of Grace. The best-known ruler who rests in St. Michael is King Ludwig II , for whose zinc coffin even the builder had to move from the predestined place in the crypt. His brother, King Otto , was also buried here. Most of the Bavarian Wittelsbachers of modern history, however, have found their final resting place in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche. The princely crypt of St. Michael, in which 36 Wittelsbachers are currently buried, is now looked after by the Wittelsbach Compensation Fund.

In detail are buried in the princely crypt of St. Michael:

In addition, the columbaria of the princely crypt contain several heart urns , u. a. by Maximilian de Beauharnais , † 1852 in Saint Petersburg .

The coffins of four Wittelsbachers who died between 1969 and 1971 (Prince Konrad , Prince Konstantin , Prince Adalbert , Princess Bona ) were initially also buried in the princely crypt, but were transferred to the new Wittelsbach family cemetery in Andechs Monastery in 1977 .

See also: List of tombs of European monarchs

St. Michael Center

The St. Michael center is attached to the high choir of the Jesuit church. The center of St. Michael houses the two institutions Faith Orientation and the Community of Christian Life (GCL). In addition to the liturgical and cultural offerings of the church, its own program of faith orientation and the community of Christian life, there are other open events in the rooms of the meditation church . There are 5 days of biblical reflection spread over the entire calendar year. Ignatian spiritual evenings deal with one aspect of the spiritual life in the tradition of St. Ignatius . There are retreat days for young adults between the ages of 20 and 40. In the rooms of the center, groups meet for the monthly Eucharistic celebration of the GCL, for the Bible afternoon , in the Bible study for the Sunday readings, for a reading group, for exercises in meditation and contemplation .


  • Father Rupert Mayer SJ was a preacher at St. Michael. His work was characterized by the indictment and disclosure of Nazi machinations. A few months after the surrender of the Third Reich, he suffered a stroke on All Saints' Day in 1945 during a sermon in the Kreuzkapelle of St. Michael Church and died on the same day. Father Rupert Mayer found his tomb just a few minutes' walk away in the Bürgersaalkirche .
  • To this day St. Michael is not a parish church, but an institute church of the Jesuits. Trademarks are sermons, confessions and church music, which are aimed primarily at people who are distant from the church.

See also


  • Susan Maxwell: The court art of Friedrich Sustris. Patronage in late Renaissance Bavaria . Farnham 2011 (here pp. 99-141).
  • Johannes Terhalle: … ha della Grandezza de padri Gesuiti. The architecture of the Jesuits around 1600 and St. Michael in Munich . In: Reinhold Baumstark (Ed.): Rome in Bavaria. Art and Spirituality of the First Jesuits. Catalog for the exhibition at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, April 30 to July 20, 1997 . Hirmer, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-7774-7600-5 , p. 83-146 .
  • Klaus Gallas : Munich. From the Guelph foundation of Henry the Lion to the present: art, culture, history . DuMont, Cologne 1979, ISBN 3-7701-1094-3 (DuMont documents: DuMont art travel guide).
  • Günter Hess (Ed.): Trophaea Bavarica . Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 1997, ISBN 3-7954-1140-8 (annotated and translated facsimile of the inauguration ceremony of the Munich Jesuits from 1597).
  • Eckhard Leuschner: Propagating St. Michael in Munich: the new Jesuit church and its early representations in the light of international visual communications . In: Elisabeth Oy-Marra and Volker R. Remmert (eds.): Le monde est une peinture. Jesuit Identity and the Role of Images . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-05-004636-5 , pp. 177-202 .
  • Leopold Gmelin: The St. Michaelskirche in Munich and its church treasure . Bamberg 1890. ( complete digital version of the BSB online )

Web links

Commons : St. Michael  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Susan Maxwell: The court art of Friedrich Sustris. Patronage in late Renaissance Bavaria. Farnham 2011, p. 110f.
  2. St. Michael Munich: Cross project St. Michael. Retrieved January 15, 2019 .
  3. Information on the organ
  4. Georg Brenninger : The organs of St. Michael. In: Wagner, Keller (ed.): St. Michael in Munich. 1983, p. 168.
  5. [1]
  6. ^ Organ: Opus Bach. Retrieved September 22, 2017 .
  7. St. Michael Munich: Michael’s organ. Retrieved November 9, 2017 .
  8. Karl Walter: Bell customer . Pustet, Regensburg a. a. 1913, p. 329f.
  9. ^ Translation of the Académie de Chant grégorien, Belgium
  10. Description on ChoralWiki
  11. Karl-Ludwig Nies : The bells of the Munich Liebfrauendoms . Sankt Michaelsbund, Munich 2004, p. 123.
  12. ^ The crypt of the Wittelsbacher in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung of October 20, 2013, page V11
  13. Hans Rall , Guide through the Munich Fürstengrüfte - Wittelsbacher Lebensbilder from Kaiser Ludwig to the present , Munich 1979, pp. 138-139
  14. St. Michael Center. Church Foundation St. Michael, Father Karl Kern SJ, accessed on January 28, 2017 .