Photograph: Pavel Čech
© Moravská galerie v Brně

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Travelling and Exoticism | Pilgrimage and the religious missions

Name of Monument:
Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Brno
Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
1598–1602; 1732–1733; 1736–1745
Denomination / Type of monument:
Religious – Church
Jan Křtitel Erna (1625? Brno – 1698 Brno); Mořic Grimm (1669 Achtdorf – 1757 Brno); Jan Kašpar Pröbstl (? – 1729, Brno); Jan van der Furth; Baldissere di Anna (1560, Venezia – after 1639, Venezia); Felix Anton Scheffler (1701 Mainburg – 1760 Prague); Jan Jiří Schauberger (?, before 1725 Vienna, worked in Olomouc – 1744, Brno); Ignác Raab (1711, Nechanice – 1787 Velehrad); Jan Adam Nesmann (1710, Mainz – 1773, Brno); Ondřej Schweigl (1735, Brno – 1812, Brno); Anton Riga (cca 1660 Kaliningrad – 1728 Brno)
Cardinal and Count František of Dietrichstein, provincial vice-chamberlain Zikmund, the Jesuits order
Established in 1578 on the site of a medieval convent, the college is the sixth oldest in Czech lands and the second oldest in Moravia. The construction of the complex took place with the support of Cardinal and Count František of Dietrichstein, the prime mover of the Re-Catholicization of Moravia, and his brother, Provincial Vice-Chamberlain Zikmund. Both are buried in front of the high altar. The college ceased to exist with the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1773. The buildings housed an academy and later a barracks. The church sustained serious damage in the bombing of Brno in 1944.
The triple-nave building was among the first Baroque constructions in Moravia (1602). The monumental altar (1734–1737) has, over a silver tabernacle, a replica of a Madonna painting from the largest Marian church, Sta. Maria Maggiore in Rome. The altarpieces and ceiling paintings are by F. A. Scheffler. The sculptures are by J. J. Schauberger. The gallery pews (1602–1605), and the sides of the pews in the main nave (1660s), are particularly remarkable. The organ with figurative decoration in an organ-loft supported by angels is by A. Riga (1728). The sacristy vault is decorated with stucco featuring garlands and heads of putti.
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How Monument was dated:
The construction of the church is mentioned by Pietro Gabri in his testament. Paintings by B. di Anna are signed as is the ceiling painting, which is also dated 1744. Several contracts have been preserved, for example that of J. K. Pröbstl, as well as a contract for the supply of stone. Activities in the Jesuit monastery are also recorded in the books of the Town Council particularly during the religious conflicts of around 1600.


Special features

Entrance frontage

Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

1598–1602; 1732–1733

Antonio Gabri, Mořic Grimm (1669 Achtdorf – 1757 Brno)

Construction of the college started in around 1593 and continued throughout the 17th century. The church tower was left unfinished for some time and so that on entering the church the visitor may note its two major building phases and changes of style spanning some 150 years.

Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary


Jan Křtitel Erna (1625?, Brno – 1698, Brno) – Jan Kašpar Pröbstl (? – 1729, Brno)

The college complex was pulled down in 1904 during the redevelopment of Brno. Only a photographic record and a portal from the Cardinal’s Courtyard, found today next to the church presbytery, has survived. The statue of Archangel Michael on the ledge holds cartouches with the coat of arms of Cardinal František of Dietrichstein. On the sides are statues of Saints, Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, and Francis Xaverius. A plaque installed later commemorates the academy of 1778.
The Annunciation

Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary


Baldissere di Anna (1560, Venezia – after 1639, Venezia)

The niches in the side naves contain a series of eight pictures with scenes from the Life of the Virgin Mary. This was commissioned for the newly built Jesuit church and Marian congregation by the Count of Dietrichstein. The Marian congregation was originally to consist of Italian craftsmen and merchants. Domestic artistic output was unable to comply with the demands of the donors and the new functions of the commissions, however, so the gap was filled by Italian stonemasons and sculptors arriving in Moravia from the late 16th century onwards, and artists of Flemish origin whose style was informed by P. P. Rubens, and who met the requirements of Re-Catholicization. The monumental Madonna (1670) in the Chapel of the Virgin Mary is by Jan van der Furth, a Flemish sculptor, active in Brno.
The Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven

Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary


Felix Anton Scheffler (1701 Mainburg – 1760 Prague)

In 1736–1745 the church was redecorated. The vaults are covered with fresco paintings. The Coronation of the Virgin Mary (Queen of Heaven) is in the chancel while in the naves are the Celebrations of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary along with other works. The artist was a pupil of C. D. Assam, a leading south-German fresco painter who was active in Munich in around 1720. He came to Silesia and Moravia through the Order of German Knights and in 1743 he became court painter to Count Filip Ludvík of Sinzendorf.

Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary


Ondřej Schweigl (1735–1812, Brno)

The figure of an adoring Blackamoor complements the iconography of the altar in the side chapel of St. Francis Xaverius added in 1670. The allegories of America and Asia symbolise the outreach of the Jesuit order. The ceiling painting features scenes from the saint’s missionary activities and is a sequel to the painting in the vault of the main nave: Ignatius of Loyola Spreading the Flame of Christ’s Faith to the Four Continents.
  Selected bibliography:
Eugen Dostál, Umělecké památky Brna, Prague, 1928, pp. 92–100.
Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska I, A-J, Prague, 1994, pp. 199–204.
Josef Koláček, 200 let jezuitů v Brně, Velehrad, 2002.
Citation of this web page:
Zora Wörgötter "Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Brno" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;cz;Mon11_H;20;en
Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 20