A historically significant abbey in scenic surroundings

Hirsau Monastery

Busts of mother and child, detail of the Andalusian Madonna at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Stephan Kohls
FROM FARAWAY LANDS

THE ANDALUSIAN MADONNA

A frequent motif in Catholic iconography can also be found in the former Church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery: the enthroned Mary and Christ child. The Madonna from the High Middle Ages is depicted as the "seat of wisdom."

Andalusian Madonna at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Stephan Kohls

Mary as the "seat of wisdom."

INCONSPICUOUS AND EXPRESSIVE

How the early-15th-century wooden sculpture made it to Hirsau remains a mystery. She stands in one of Württemberg's most impressive structures and is easily missed by visitors. This Spanish Madonna is unassumingly enthroned on a ledge in the left aisle of the Church of St. Aurelius. Those lucky enough to discover her quickly fall under the spell of her expressively carved face. The depiction of Mary as "sedes sapientiae," or "seat of wisdom," became iconic in the 12th century: Mary holds the Christ child in her lap, thus herself becoming a throne, upon which sits Jesus, the embodiment of God's wisdom.

Interior of the monastery church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The Andalusian Madonna is located in the church aisle and is easily missed.

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