Für uns Mercedarier ist dies ein Ereignis von besonderer Bedeutung. Nicht nur genießen wir seit vielen Jahren die Gastfreundschaft der Kreuzherren und halten unsere allmonatlichen Gebetstreffen in der Agneskapelle der Karlskirche ab, sondern ist auch die Darstellung des hl. Serapion, des ersten Märtyrers unseres Ordens, nördlich der Alpen eine absolute Rarität. Der hl. Serapion lebte Anfang des 13. Jahrhunderts für geraume Zeit in Wien, zur selben Zeit als sich auch die hl. Agnes in Wien aufhielt. Später ging der junge Serapion nach Spanien, wo er den hl. Petrus Nolascus kennenlernte und in dessen damals noch jungen Mercedarierorden eintrat. Im Jahre 1240 erlitt der hl. Serapion den Märtyrertod, als er sich in Nordafrika im Austausch für christliche Sklaven in die Gefangenschaft der muslimischen Mauren begab.
Die Angehörigen der Wiener Kommende der Ritter des Mercedarierordens (Compagnia di Santa Maria della Mercede) nahmen auf Einladung des Kreuzherrenordens im Ordensgewand an der Bildsegnung teil.
Hier die Bildbeschreibung durch den Meister selbst:
Saint Agnes of Bohemia. Altarpiece by Clemens Maria Fuchs:
Size: 3 m X 2 m
Technique: oil on panel
I completed this painting after five weeks of work, a week and a half ago. I painted this altarpiece for the Chapel of Saint Agnes in the magnificent church of St. Charles Borromeo in Vienna. It was inaugurated yesterday by his Excellency Msgr. Frantisek Václav Lobkowicz, Bishop of Ostrau-Troppau. The painting was commissioned by Father Martin, provincial of the Order of the Holy Cross with the Red Star for the province of Vienna St. Karl Borromeus.
Saint Agnes is depicted on top placing, one of her hands on the head of Christ and the other on His arm. She's wearing the habit of the Order of St. Clare of Assisi.
On the right you see the figure of Saint Serapion, a member of the Mercedarian Order and martyr, carrying Christ. Christ is depicted in the center of the group in a type of Pietá pose. While a priest of the Order of the Cross with the Red Star is shown kneeling and carrying Christ by His legs.
The composition is similar to a Pietá. Through Christ’s life and death, He set the example for us to follow. Through Christ's life and death and His sacrifice, Saints such as St. Agnes and St. Serapion were inspired to follow Him.
St. Agnes, through her life of penance, prayer and her undying service to the poor, sick and dying, she sacrificed her life at the Bohemian court of luxury and power for a life of poverty, prayer, penance and serving the poor and the sick.
St. Serapion follows Christ through his heroic acts of freeing slaves from captivity in Muslim countries and his brutal martyrdom in Algiers.
Both Saints took up their crosses according to their calling and followed Christ to sainthood.
The kneeling figure represents the Order of the Holy Cross with the Red Star, the foundation of St. Agnes and her spiritual and physical remnants.
All the three figures surrounding the Body of Christ, place their hearts on a particular part of Christ's body. Since in eastern Christian symbolism, the heart is the see of the soul. Christ, through His life and death, touched these saints' hearts and souls.
The chapel of St. Agnes is also devoted to the regular adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That's why the Body of Christ is at the centre of the composition – a little like a monstrance.
For me it was important that the figures have deep spiritual union, whether by physical sense of touch or a spiritual sense that I wanted to convey through the intensity in the eyes.
This painting should portrait the charisma of those saints, but should also inspire the viewer to prayer.
This painting is dedicated to St. Agnes, St. Serapion, and to the work and sacrifice they offered but also to all the people who were supportive in a spiritual, moral and physical manner. I want to thank the parish priest of Karlskirche, Father Martin, and the Mercedarierkommende Wien Marco d'Aviano for giving me the opportunity to create this painting for one of the most beautiful churches in the world. I want to thank all my family and friends, who supported me morally and spiritually, and the great models that posed for the figures of this painting.
I am deeply honored to have served the Church in this way and I hope that soon I'll have another opportunity to do so.
This painting is an act of my faith and an offering to God and His Church!
At the centre of the theme of this altar piece is Faith, Hope and Love.
Many Thanks to God and to all my friends and family for your support and inspiration!
God bless you!