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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 chip of bone, lock of a pope’s hair type relics. 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, maybe a little counterintuitively, 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 originally goes back to the mid-13th century. Those monks were sacked by the Swedes in the mid-17th century, but eventually they regrouped and within a hundred years or so the order began to rebuild. By the end of the 1700s the cornerstone of the new Baroque style church was laid, 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, and by the early 19th century it was secularized, used for a couple of hundred years 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 itself 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. All that 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 prove, and 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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