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Bavarian Rococo Joy: The Pilgrim Church of Wies

On June 14, 1738, in Wies, Bavaria, part of the Holy Roman Empire, a wooden figure of Christ appeared to shed tears. Inspired by the incredulous event, pilgrims from across Europe began to visit the tiny chapel that was built in 1740 to house the figure. So many pilgrims visited the chapel that the nearby Steingaden Abbey decided to build a church to accommodate them.  Constructed between 1745 and 1754, the Wieskirche, or Pilgrim Church, is considered a Rococo masterpiece. The interior features astounding frescos with trompe l’oeil, a painting technique that renders objects realistically so that they appear to be three-dimensional. It also features the stuccowork of the Wessobrunner School of stucco artists.  The Wessobrunn stucco style originated from the Benedictine abbey in Wessobrunn, Bavaria, around 24 miles north of the Pilgrim Church. In the 17th century, the abbey was the epicenter of Europe’s stuccowork commissions, with orders coming from France, …

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