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May 6

Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany

Jeweled Skeletons of the Fürstenfeld Abbey

These blingy, baubled skeletons lie in glass boxes inside a baroque Bavarian church 

On the grounds of the old Fürstenfeld Abbey, home to the Church of the Assumption in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany, reside the relics, so it’s told, of two early Christian saints. These are not your average relics, like a chip of bone or a lock of a pope’s hair; these are full-on skeletons, crowned in gold and jewels, encrusted skull to toe with all the glittery trimmings. 

Fürstenfeld was originally a Cistercian abbey, a monastic community self-sustained by their own agriculture and brewing (back in the day monks made the best beer). The abbey is about 15 miles outside of Munich and what is seen today is beyond Baroque in style, but the order goes back to the mid-13th century. The abbey was sacked by the Swedes in the mid-17th century, but eventually the order regrouped and within a hundred years or so began to rebuild the church. By the end of the 1700s the cornerstone was laid,  and the new Baroque-style church would be richly decorated in pastels, gold, and frescoes by the Asam Brothers and Giuseppe Appiani, some of Bavaria’s most famed artists. It didn’t last all that long as an abbey; by the early 19th century it had been secularized, and would be used as everything from a police training facility to a hospital to a local community college.

Although much of the abbey is still used for secular purposes today, since 2011 the church has provided a home for the services of the Catholic Parish of Saint Magdalena, the Church of the Assumption. The ornate interior is positively dripping with gilded altars, paintings, tapestries, and elaborate carvings, in addition to the reliquaries that serve as side altars. Inside the glass boxes are said to be the remains of two early Christians – Saint Hyacinth of Caesarea and Saint Clemens. The provenance of relics is hard to confirm, but whether these skeletons belong to those two saints or not, their surroundings sure are heavenly.

Know Before You Go

The grounds of the Abbey run along the Amper River, just off Fürstenfelder Street in the center of Fürstenfeldbruck.

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