Wallfahrtskirche Birnau (Pilgrimage Church; Basilika Birnau)
Wallfahrtskirche Birnau (Pilgrimage Church; Basilika Birnau) Review
Just northwest of Unteruhldingen, the Wallfahrtskirche Birnau stands among vineyards overlooking the lake. The church was built by the master architect Peter Thumb between 1746 and 1750. Its exterior consists of pink-and-white plaster and a tapering clock-tower spire above the main entrance. The interior is overwhelmingly rich, full of movement, light, and color. It's hard to single out highlights from such a profusion of ornament, but look for the Honigschlecker ("honey sucker"), a gold-and-white cherub beside the altar, dedicated to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, "whose words are sweet as honey" (it's the last altar on the right as you face the high altar). The cherub is sucking honey from his finger, which he's just pulled out of a beehive. The fanciful spirit of this play on words is continued in the small squares of glass set into the pink screen that rises high above the main altar; the gilt dripping from the walls; the swaying, swooning statues; and the swooping figures on the ceiling.