Switzerland: Pharmacy of the Soul; Justine Tyerman; NZ Herald

Switzerland – Abbey of St Gall

Justine Tyerman has to be dragged away from the historic Abbey Library of St. Gall.

I stood in the centre of the library, rotating slowly and gazing upwards as I tried to take in the splendour of the magnificent rococo hall lined with thousands of precious ancient books and manuscripts.

The Abbey Library of St. Gall in St. Gallen, Switzerland, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983, is among the oldest and most beautiful libraries in the world.

The ceiling frescoes depicting the first four ecumenical councils of the early Christian church – Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) painted by Joseph Wannenmacher – are astonishing.

Built between 1758 and 1767 under the direction of master builder Peter Thumb, the hall has exquisite burnished woodwork and parquet floors that create an atmosphere of warmth and tranquillity.

The origins of the abbey date back to 612 when an Irish monk by the name of Gallus erected a hermitage on the site. Another monk named Othmar extended the building around 719 and was appointed the first abbot of the Abbey of St. Gall. He was canonised in 864.

Source: Switzerland: Pharmacy of the Soul

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