Holy Trinity Column
An ornate plague column – built to celebrate life – claimed the lives of numerous artisans during its construction.
When proposing the astounding Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc, architect Wenzel Render proclaimed, “To the glory of God the Almighty, the Virgin Mary and the saints I will build a column that in its height and splendour will be unrivalled in any other town.” And that he did… sort of.
Erected between 1716 and 1754 as a gesture of gratitude for having survived a bout of the plague as devout Catholics often saw fit during the period, the monument remains a point of pride for the Czech people. Constructed entirely by local Olomouc craftsman, the Holy Trinity Column was recognized by UNESCO in 2000, when it was added to the World Heritage List after being cited as “one of the most exceptional examples of the apogee of central European Baroque artistic expression.”
At nearly 115-feet tall, the Holy Trinity Column is topped by a gilded sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel, with the Assumption of the Virgin resting beneath. Three tiers descend on all sides from the pillar, decorated with cartouches, reliefs of the 12 apostles, and 18 stone sculptures of major saints intermingling with Moravian favorites. The base of the column also houses an entire chapel.
Unfortunately the Holy Trinity Column’s aforementioned visionary, Render, died not long after work began. A builder named Franz Thoneck took up Render’s mantle, only to die himself while working on the column. Then came Johann Wenzel Rokický, who passed away before its completion, as did Augustin Scholtz.
After claiming the lives of four master craftsman, a fifth man named Johann Ignaz Rokický was finally able to complete the divinely-inspired monument to perseverance in the face of Death… though not before the man in charge of gilding the Virgin Mary perched atop the column would fall irrecoverably ill from his contributions to the project. But, as is the case with all great works of art, their creation was destined to outlive them all anyway.
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