Benedict XVI.'s first station in Vienna is going to be the Church „Am Hof." The Church "Am Hof," originally built in the Gothic style, was extended in the Baroque and Classicistic style and has been been renovated for several years. "The replacement of the altar had been planned for a later point in time but due to the Pope's visit, it was brought forward," says Hiltigund Schreiber, Diocesan Archivist of the Archdiocese Vienna, in an interview with "Kathpress." The new altar is made of Croatian lime stone by Prof. Oskar Höfinger, who was supported by his son John. On September 2, Josip Cardinal Bozanic, the Archbishop of Zagreb, consecrated the altar, as the Church "am Hof" is the center of the Croatian Catholic Community in Vienna.
Höfinger's concept of the altar was chosen out of six concepts which had taken part in the limited tender. Hiltigund Schreiber approves of the fact that Höfinger is using Croatian lime stone for the altar, as the altar is meant for the church of the Croatian Community in Vienna: "Maybe this gives a notion of home." The material for the altar was stored in a quarry in Maria Loretto in the province Burgenland for 50 years but it originally came from the Dalmatian island Brac. Höfinger's altar is made of polished lime stone and with its crystalline surface it has a very powerful effect. "The altar connects the presbytery with the high altar and the space of the church community," describes Hiltigund Schreiber, who has long been looking for the right spot to place the altar. Prof. Höfinger also created an ambo matching the altar. "Still, altar and ambo are independent pieces of art, which go with and are integrated into the church interior," explains Hiltigund Schreiber, Diözesankonservatorin of the Archdiocese Vienna.
The church with the unusual wakes of "The Nine Choirs of the Angels" was visited by Pius VI. (1782) and John Paul II. (1983). The church reached today's measures around 1400, and was rebuilt and extended (the impressive balcony facing "Am Hof" Square was built in 1662). The latest renovation of the church started in 2002.
P. Ilija Vrdoljak, the Head of the Croatian Community, is rejoicing at the important role which "his" church is going to play in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The Croatian Community has been celebrating services in the Church "Am Hof" since 1969 and feels very much at home. Therefore, the fact that the stone for the altar originally comes from Croatia is a special source of joy. Josip Cardinal Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb consecrated the altar and brought a relic of the beatified Cadinal Alojizije Stepinac for the altar.
In 1946, in the "saddest trial," the "tristissimo processo" as Pius XII. called it, Cardinal Stepinac was sentenced to 16 years of prison by a Yugoslavian Court. Cardinal Stepinac died under house arrest in his home town Krasic in 1960. Franz Cardinal König met with an accident on his way to Cardinal Stepanic's funeral.