The Jesuit Church was built between 1627 and 1640, however the construction of the towers in their current shape was finished not before 1901. In 2003/04 a thorough renovation of the interior took place. On this occasion, the main sanctuary, which had been destroyed during World War II, was reconstructed and a new altar was installed in the middle. Besides that, a new entrance to the Crypt was built close to the main entrance. In the Crypt, there are the tombs of the Jesuits who died in Innsbruck as well as those of the founders of this church, Leopold V. and Claudia de Medici. In the tower, there is the 4th largest Austrian bell (weight: 9,200 kg; only the "Pummerin" in Vienna St Stephen's Cathedral, the Bell of St Salvator in Salzburg Cathedral, and the "Friedensglocke" in Moesern are larger).
Church of the Most Holy Trinity
built from 1627 to 1646
A short explanation of the Jesuit Church
In 1562, St Peter Canisius, as provincial of the upper German Jesuit province, established the Jesuit College (as well as a high school) in Innsbruck at the request and with the support of Emperor Ferdinand I. — Between 1627 and 1646, in the midst of the Thirty Years' War, the current church was erected, with the support of the sovereign of Tyrol, Archduke Leopold V, and his wife, Archduchess Claudia de' Medici, both of whom are buried in the Crypt. The auxiliary Bishop of Brixen, Antonius Crusinus consecrated the church in 1646.
In 1773 the Jesuit order was suppressed; the Jesuit College and church became state property. In 1777 the church was declared "University Church". The Jesuits returned to Innsbruck in 1838. The following year they were asked again to look after the University Church. From then on, the tradition of "University sermons" was established. On December 15, 1943, in the first bomb raid on Innsbruck, the church was hit by a demolition bomb and severely damaged; it looked like a ruin. Much of the interior decoration was lost forever. — In 1945, after the end of the war, the church was renovated. On April 26, 1953 Bishop Paulus Rusch newly consecrated the church — and from then on it has been open for worship and liturgy. In 2003—04 a complete restoration of the interior of the church was done, the last remaining damages from the war eliminated.
is the centre of the church — and represents also the centre of theology during the baroque period. The four columns symbolise the four cardinal points — the earthly dimension. Above the columns the dome rises: an image of heaven. At the top spot of the dome the symbol of the Most Holy Trinity is shown, expressing the message: earth is connected with heaven — the salvific cross of Jesus Christ leads to the glory of the Trinitarian God.
is dedicated to St Jude Apostle who is invoked in all difficult cases. In 1767, in Rome, the Sacred Heart image was painted for the Innsbruck church replicating the original of Pompeo Girolamo Battoni. Even Andreas Hofer has knelt here. In 1809 Tyrol was dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Until today, the veneration of the Sacred Heart means: God has a heart for his people at all times.
In the front side chapel (6), the relics of St Pirminius (+ 753) are venerated; he was the founder of several monasteries and a missionary in the upper Rhine region during the Carolingian period. In 1575, during sectarian violence of the Reformation period the relics came from Hornbach in the Palatinate via Speyer to Innsbruck. Now they are contained in a modern shrine made by Rudolf Millonig. St Pirminius has been one of the patron saints of Innsbruck since 1611. He was invoked against the plague. As such he is also pictured at the altarpiece as well as on the back wall of the side chapel. Incidentally, for the first time, an accurate view of Innsbruck with the Nordkette, the alpine mountain chain, is shown there.
On the stucco ceiling of the chapel dedicated to St Ignatius (7), the founder of the Jesuits, he is called "Star of the Occident" radiating over Spain, Italy, Germany and France. Born 1491 in Loyola in the Basque country, Ignatius was in the service of the Spanish king until his injury in the war of Navarra (1512—1522). In a long personal journey he searched for his vocation and found the first companions to start what was to become the Society of Jesus, officially recognised by Pope Paul III in 1540. Ignatius was the first Superior General; he lived in Rome and died there in 1556.
The altar of the Guardian Angels (9) with an altar piece by Johann Christoph Storrer is an expression of deep trust in the guidance of God: "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." (Ps 91). In front of the altarpiece a picture of the great doctor of the Church, Peter Canisius, is displayed — painted in 1926. It was erected at the occasion of his canonization (1925). As founder of the Innsbruck Jesuit College, Peter Canisius is related in a special way to this Jesuit and University Church. Since the foundation of this diocese in 1964, he has been the patron saint of Innsbruck.
The chapel of St Francis Xavier (11) remembers the greatest Jesuit missionary (1506-1552). He was born in Spain and met Ignatius at the University of Paris where Francis Xavier, after some initial resistance, joined the first companions. He died on the shore of an island facing China. Similar to the chapel of St Ignatius, the stucco ceiling shows a star between India, China, Japan and the Moluccas. St Francis Xavier is glorified as "Lightbringer of the far East".
The princes' vault is situated in the Crypt (12), built in 1636 — now with a new access in front of the wrought-iron grill. Eleven princes are buried there, among them six from the House of Habsburg. The founders of the church, Archduke Leopold V (+ 1632) and his wife Claudia de' Medici (+ 1648) are buried here.
shows that the glory of Easter (and of the baroque period) can only be found by following the crucified Jesus.
on the gable end of the façade points out that the church is dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity.
Text: Robert Locher S.J., Translation: Sylvia Manning-Baumgartner