Tuesday, June 10, 2008

St. Nicholas in Mala Strana

This past Sunday I missed the service at San Maria Liberatrice because I was in Prague. While there, Jessica and I paid a small fee to visit St. Nicholas, a church in the Mala Strana (lesser town) district of Prague. As the picture above illustrates, the church is a full-on baroque production. Everything inside the Jesuit institution was ornately crafted. Some of the work with gold was particularly stunning like the wings on this angel and the scroll that he is holding. In addition to a stunning nave, both walls of the church were lined with smaller chapels like many of the churches in Rome. These were roped off and while there was no indication as to whether they belonged to anyone in particular, each had its own character.

In addition to being decorated is slightly altered ways, each of the chapels also had its own altar and confessional. Separate altars have been typical in the chapels of all of the churches that we have visited in Rome, but separate confessionals is unique to St. Nicholas so far in my experience. I have to wonder to whom or what the chapels are tied. Did wealth families pay for them? If one must enter one of these chapels to take confessional at St. Nichlas, are there restrictions for doing so? The confessional pictured at the right was in the first chapel on the left as I entered. This was the only chapel that was not cordoned off and may be open to the public and open to public confession all of the time.

This is a picture of another confessional in St. Nicholas. You can see the yellow rope barring entrance to the chapel in which it stands in the lower-left corner if you look closely at the picture. The confessionals themselves were elaborate wooden productions and were set into the walls of the church. This is different from Roman confessionals. Even in St. Peter's the confessionals, while equally complex pieces of art, were constructed as separate units from the church itself and set in a convenient spot in the church. In St. Nicholas, the confessionals appear to be part of the church itself.

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