Art Sunday #102: Lucas Cranach the Elder – Maria-Hilf Bild


Innsbruck Cathedral is notable for two important treasures. The painting Maria Hilf (Mary of Succor) by Lucas Cranach the Elder from c. 1530 is displayed above the main altar. It is considered among the most venerated Marian images in Christendom.  The cathedral also contains in the north aisle the canopied tomb of Archduke Maximilian III of Austria, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, dating from 1620. The cathedral was heavily damaged during World War II, but was fully restored within a few years.

The imposing marble structure of the high altar contains the cathedral’s most precious treasure, the painting Maria Hilf (Mary of Succor) by Lucas Cranach the Elder from c. 1530. Originally belonging to a gallery of paintings owned by the Electorate of Saxony in Dresden, this unique image of the Madonna and Child is filled with “the dignity of the Queen of Heaven, the charm of the Virgin and the gentleness of the mother.”  The painting, which typifies the Baroque veneration of the Virgin Mary, was a gift from John George I, Elector of Saxony to Archduke Leopold V, and has resided in the church since 1650. On workdays, it is framed by Joseph Schopf’s 1789 painting of Saint James and Saint Alexius venerating the Virgin Mary. On feast days, the painting is surrounded by silver angels and golden rays.  Maria Hilf remains among the most venerated Marian images in Christendom.



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