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Vienna, Austria

Dominikanerkirche (Dominican Church)

An exquisite Baroque church in Vienna's old town. 

This early Baroque parish church and minor basilica in Vienna’s old town, also known as the Church of St. Maria Rotunda, is a striking example of the Italian Baroque style with an exquisite barrel-vaulted ceiling.

Dominican Order (aka Order of Preachers) is a Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Saint Dominic de Guzman (8 August 1170 – 6 August 1221) in France, approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216. The Dominican Order came into being at a time when religion began to be contemplated in a new way.

In the Middle Ages the established monastic way of living was in an isolated community behind the walls of a cloisters where members worked at a trade and owned property, such as land, building and other objects of wealth. By contrast, mendicant orders did not work at a trade and embraced a lifestyle of poverty. They travelled and lived among people and most importantly, they depended for their survival on the goodwill of the people to whom they preached. Their purpose was preaching, evangelization, and ministry, especially to the poor taking as their examples the early apostles. Out of this ideal emerged two orders of mendicant friars: one, the Friars Minor, was led by Francis of Assisi; the other, the Friars Preachers, led by Dominic of Guzman.

The first church on this site was built by the newly arrived Dominicans near one of the gates in Vienna′s city walls in 1237. A series of fires in the Romanesque church instigated the construction of a new Gothic church between 1283 and 1302. However, this second building has a similar ill fate, it was heavily damaged during the first siege of Vienna by the Turkish army in 1529. The present building was built between 1631 and 1634 involving Italian craftsmen and artists. It has six side chapels each dedicated to a saint, who are portrayed in the paintings above the altars: St. Catherine of Siena, Thomas Aquinas, St. Rose of Lima, St. Anne, St. Vincent Ferrer, and St. Catherine of Alexandria. The frescoes of the barrel-vaulted ceiling of Matthias Rauchmiller (1675) depict 46 scenes from the life of Our Lady.