A place of healing and salvation

Johann Baptist Zimmermann’s iconographic programme on the interior of the Andechs Pilgrimage Church presents the Heilige Berg as a place of healing and salvation.

Upon entering the Pilgrimage Church, the visitor sees in the vault fresco above them how the sick are healed by the miraculous image of the enthroned Andechs Mother of God. Here the Heilige Berg symbolises the biblical Pool of Bethesda, a place of healing.

For those striving to attain the four cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance and the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, the reward is presented in the central nave’s large fresco: Christ, resurrected from the dead, saviour of those who confess to his name.

Ceiling frescoes of the side aisles

The ceiling frescoes of the side aisles respectively refer to the patron of the closest side altar. On the vaulted ceiling above the altar of Michael at the south portal, Johann Baptist Zimmermann painted a miracle wrought by the archangel on Monte Gargano in Apulia. The scene above the altar of John opposite shows Mary presenting a stole that is part of the Andechs collection of relics to John, the favourite disciple of Jesus. The ceiling fresco for the altar of Benedict depicts Benedict rolling in thorns to overcome temptation. Above the altar of Rasso, one sees Rasso driving back the Hungarians with Charlemagne’s Cross of Victory. Through their references to the Andechs relics, these scenes depict the Heilige Berg as a sanctuary from threats to the body and soul.

The Andechs ceiling fresco of saints

In the ceiling fresco above the altar of grace, saints in the “Andechs heavens” associated with Andechs and its history in very different ways are grouped around the Monstrance of the Three Hosts.

The Andechs ceiling fresco of saints
The three Sacred Hosts – detail from the Andechs ceiling fresco of saints
Detail of the Andechs ceiling fresco of saints with Pope Leo IX and Pope Gregory the Great (right)

The gallery balustrade

26 images tell the story of the holy relics from the acquisition of the first relics by Count Rasso, the origin of the three Sacred Hosts and the recovery of the relics in 1388 to the church and monastery fire in 1669, which however did not destroy the holy relics.

Andechs Monastery Emblem