Switzerland: Collegiate Church of Lucerne Gets Back Four Medieval Liturgical Objects

April 25, 2023
Source: fsspx.news
Interior of the Basilica of St. Leodegar in Lucerne

The city of Lucerne is located on the shores of Lake Lucerne dominated by the collegiate church, the Hofkirche of Lucerne. This vast and sublime church is consecrated to St. Leodegar, Bishop of Autun in France in 663. The treasure of the collegiate church of Lucerne was enriched at the start of the year with the return of four exceptional medieval liturgical objects: three reliquaries and a pyx.

These four precious objects, which had been part of the old collection, have been returned and are considered to be one of the oldest and most important sacred treasures in Switzerland. The treasure room painted in 1933 in the Art Deco style is itself unique in Switzerland.

Two of the reliquaries date from around 1500, with the figurative representations of St. Maurice and St. Léger, the third from the 12th century, and the pyx – around 1400 – is made of an extremely rare and perfectly preserved textile.

The pyx, or custos, was originally a sacred container – in ivory or precious metal – in the shape of a box and intended for the conservation of the reserved Eucharist, the consecrated hosts.

The two reliquaries from 1500 were part of the famous private collections of Carl Roman Abt (1850-1933) at the Freyenhof in Lucerne and Alfred Rütschi (1869-1929), Zurich silk manufacturer and patron of the Kunsthaus. The four objects were on permanent loan from their current owners, the largest reliquary having been acquired by the Federal Gottfried Keller Foundation for the treasury of the Lucerne collegiate church.

The oldest pieces of the abbey's treasury are a precious missal binding in silver relief and a magnificent golden cross, dating from the 12th and 15th centuries. A chalice from Confederate spoils captured during the Battle of Morat in 1476, and taken from Duke Charles the Bold, is also a masterful testimony to medieval goldsmithing.

Around 735-36, we find the first mention of a monastery dedicated to St. Maurice. In 850 the Benedictine rule was adopted, and in 1135 the monastery depended on the Abbey of Murbach (Alsace), the patron saints were St. Léger and St. Maurice.

Around 1455-56 the Benedictine monastery depended on the Bishop of Constance and was transformed into a convent of secular canons of St. Léger and St. Maurice. At the beginning of the 17th century, the apostolic nuncio stayed in Lucerne and used the Hofkirche as a cathedral.

The Catholic Hofkirche parish was founded in the 19th century, it is today the main Catholic church of Lucerne, at the head of seven other parishes of the Lucerne agglomeration.

The church was destroyed by fire in 1633 and only the two towers with Romanesque elements have been preserved. The treasure was saved, along with major works of art. The reconstruction was undertaken and the consecration took place in 1644. Baroque decoration was added in 1742. A first restoration was carried out between 1859 and 1862, followed by several specific interventions, before the renovation of the complex was completed in 2001.

Inside the church, there are different styles and many works of art from the 16th to the 18th century. The high altar is made of black marble from the Unterwalden region. The facade of the collegiate church, in late Renaissance style, bears representations of the Archangel St. Michael and Saints Léger and Maurice.