High above the Innstadt rises the baroque pilgrimage church Mariahilf with its prominent towers and the adjacent St. Paul monastery. The baroque monastery from the 17th century was of great significance as a place of pilgrimage to Saint Mary.
The miraculous image of Saint Mary in Passau, which is located at the high altar, receives worldwide worship, even though it is actually only a copy. The original, painted by Lucas Cranach, was a present for Leopold Archduke of Austria, the Prince Bishop of Passau in 1611. Before Leopold took it with him to his new domain as sovereign of Tyrol, the cathedrals department head Marquard von Schwendi employed the Passau-based painter Pius to make a copy. The original is currently located in the St. Jakob parish church in Innsbruck.
The copy of the image ultimately won fame through the emperor Leopold I. of Habsburg. He fled in 1683 with his family and court to Passau, when the Turks surrounded Vienna and prayed daily for the city’s liberation in front of the picture of the Virgin Mary. “Maria Hilf”, German for “Mary help” became the battle cry in the battle against the Turks, which was ultimately won in the final battle at the Kahlenberg mountain. Passau’s image of the Virgin Mary become the national image of the Habsburg family.
321 steps and numerous votive tables
A covered stairway with 321 steps leads up to the pilgrimage chapel. The walkway is adorned with numerous votive tablets. The entrance is in the street of the Neutorgraben.
Until 1803 (secularisation) and continuing again in the year 1890, Mariahilf was a Capuchin monastery. Since 2002, the Order of St. Paul is located there.
• Church: limited accessibility for wheelchairs
• Disabled parking in the courtyard
• Public handicapped lavatory in church