Friday, June 24, 2011

Godfather Death

Once upon a time a very poor weaver named Paul Urssenbeck searched for a godfather for his twelfth child.
He asked every relative and every acquaintance but no one was wealthy enough to take the responsibility for the sponsorship.

On his way back home he had to walk through a piece of forest. His sorrows let him breathe heavily and with a sigh he spoke out loud, “Oh, I wish I could die.”

That moment he felt an ice-cold hand on his shoulder. He turned around and saw a tall spindly figure, “I am Death; you called me, what can I do for you?”

Suddenly the weaver was more interested in staying alive than in dying but respectfully he told the grim reaper about his trouble.

“Let me be godfather for your child. My christening present is neither gold nor silver, but I will confide you a secret that you can use for you.”

The weaver thought, “Better a godfather without gift than no godfather,” and so he agreed.

After the ceremony the black suited sponsor took the weaver aside, “The secret I’m telling you now is a chance for you to become famous and rich. Whenever a person is critically ill I am there. Of course no one can see me. When I stand at the foot the person will recover, but when I stand at the head the person must die. Now you have the gift to see me; and with this ability you can predict if a patient will live or die. Use this gift thoughtfully.”

This was in fact a precious secret, and soon the poor man had the chance to use it.

By and by the poor weaver became a well known and wealthy doctor. But the richer he was, the greedier he became.

One day he was called to the emperor’s treasurer Wilhelm Graf Auersperg. He saw Death standing at the ill man’s head; and so he said, “I’m so sorry. His Excellency will die.”

A fortune was offered to him for the try to heal this man. The temptation was too big and so the doctor couldn’t resist. For a moment he thought what he could do. Then he ordered four strong men and told them to turn the bed around.

Now Death stood at the foot, and so Graf Auersperg survived.

Urssenbeck looked at Death and he saw fury in his eyes.

With a very bad feeling the doctor took the money and hurried home.

Suddenly Death stood beside him. “What have you done? Instead of the man’s life you’ve just saved I have to take yours now.”

The doctor fell on his knees, “Have mercy…,” but Death had no mercy.

The next morning Urssenbeck’s dead body was found. He left an immense fortune and was buried at the cemetery of St. Stephen.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 21 - Positive Feedback' !

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Interlude #2: Exterior and interior scenes of St. Stephen's Cathedral

I just found these pictures of St. Stephen's Cathedral and thought I share them with you ...


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Facts & History #1: Around St. Stephen's Northtower

After the reading of  "The Legend around St.Stephen's Missing Tower" on 'FlashCast 020 - Flashers' JRD Skinner asked me about the story behind the stop.

I thought you might wonder too what actually happened ...


Hans Puchsbaum was one of the architects of St. Stephen’s. He was born before 1390 and he died in 1454. (source: wikipedia )
"He probably became the leader of the lodge of Stephanskirche in 1439, but written sources mention him only in 1446." (source: Pannonian Renaissance )

The workshop was directed by Hans Puchspaum probably between 1439 and 1454. … In 1444 the plans for the northern tower were made, but the foundations were laid only in 1450. After another break, the construction was resumed in 1467 by Laurenz Spenyng, Puchspaum's successor. The church then became a bishopric cathedral. The building of the tower ceased in 1511.” (source: Pannonian Renaissance )

The foundation for a north tower was laid in 1450, and construction began under master
Lorenz Spenning, but its construction was abandoned when major work on the cathedral ceased in 1511.” (source: wikipedia )

St. Stephen's in 1502

The reasons for the stop:

Economic troubles at the end of the middle age, the approaching danger of the Turks (which finally led to the Siege of Vienna in 1529) and religious developments ( The Reformation ) were the very unspectacular reasons for the stop.

And of course with the end of the middle age the architectural style changed from Gothic to Renaissance.

"In 1578 the tower-stump was augmented with a renaissance cap, nicknamed the "water tower top" by the Viennese. The tower now stands at 68 meters tall (223 ft), roughly half the height of the south tower."
(source: wikipedia )


During the research I stumbled upon these little videos. I thought you might find them interesting.

Western façade 
North tower


I close the post with a preview: The next legend will be posted on Friday, June 24th.

Many thanks for your interest!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Legend around St. Stephen's Missing Tower

Once upon a time there lived a young man in Vienna, his name was Hans Puchsbaum. He was a very talented architect; he was very ambitious but not yet famous.
Hans was in love with a beautiful young woman; her name was Mary and she was the daughter of an honored and rich citizen.

That time St. Stephen’s was still under construction. The nave and the South tower were already completed. Only the North Tower which should mirror the one on the south side was not built yet.

The city council had given a contest to transfer the work to the ablest architect, who would complete the tower in the shortest time and at the cheapest cost.

So it came that Hans Puchsbaum applied for the job to build that tower. He thought when he could get fame and honor; he could acquire the hand of his beloved Mary.

Hans promised to build the tower within half the time of his competitors; and so – he got the job.

In the beginning everything worked well, but soon some troubles appeared; the materials were delivered too late, the calculations of the construction were not exactly enough, and too many days the builders had to stop their work in cause of bad weather.

Hans Puchsbaum recognized that he couldn’t finish the tower in the time he had promised.

One evening he stood lost in his thoughts in front of the church and looked up to the unfinished tower. Suddenly a little strange-looking man in a green suit stood on his side.
”Oh, what a pity,” the little man said, “things don’t look good for you, eh?”
Hans Puchsbaum told him about his sorrow.
”Ah, don’t worry; I can help you. And with my help you can still complete the tower in time. There is just one little thing I ask you to do.”

“What is it?” Hans Puchsbaum sounded very interested.

“You are not allowed to mention the name of God, Mother Mary’s name or any other name of a Saint. This is all I want.”

“Ha, of course, that’s a deal!” Hans said although he had noticed that he had just made a pact with the devil.

Since that day the North tower grew faster than ever before.
Hans Puchsbaum was happy; he saw his goal near; he could finish the tower in time and finally marry his beloved bride.

One beautiful day he stood high above on the scaffolding, he looked down on the square and watched the people moving. He smiled, “Just a few more days …”

In that moment he discovered his bride in the crowd. Full of joy he called her name, “Mary!”

Suddenly a hollow mocking laughter echoed through Vienna, the scaffolding started to sway and with an incredible noisiness the whole construction broke down and drew Hans Puchsbaum into the depths.

For a few moments a gigantic green figure with a grinning face was seen.

Then the people dared to remove the debris. But the dead body of Hans Puchsbaum couldn’t be found and remained disappeared.

The plan to build the North tower of St. Stephen’s was given up that day and was never taken up again.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their
'FlashCast 020 - Flashers' !


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Interlude #1: Welcome Mr. W.A.Mozart

Deeply involved in the myths of Viennese legends there was no way around to stumble upon the story of Mozart's Requiem.

I hope you like it as much as I do.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Linden Tree at St.Stephen's


It was in 1144 when it was planned to build a new rectory for the priests of St. Stephen’s church.

Reverend Eberhard and architect Falkner stood together and talked about the plans.

“We must remove the linden tree, I think that’s the best place for the building,” the architect said.

“Oh, please, there must be another way. I love that tree. This tree is like a dear friend of mine. The linden is as old as I am; and I don’t like to see the tree dying before me.”

So they changed the plans in a way that the linden tree could remain standing. And for the priests pleasure it even came better than it was already, because now he could see his beloved tree when he looked out of his window.

With the years the linden tree grew larger and more beautiful. The priest however was getting older, his hair was already white and he was getting tired.

One sunny day in fall Reverend Eberhard sat under his beloved linden tree as he did so many times before in his life. He was already seventy; he was plagued by a bad cough and he couldn’t sleep well anymore.
When he saw the leaves falling he saddened, “The falling leaves are like the remaining days of my life,” he looked at the tree, “Just one more time I want to see your blooming. Then I will agree to die.”

The winter came and the priest’s state of health became worse. Vienna was covered with snow; the linden tree was bare; and spring still far away.

One morning the priest knew that his death was near.
He could hardly breathe, and so he asked his servant to open the window.

”Reverend, it is very cold outside,” the servant said.

“Don’t care about that, I have to see … if the linden …”

The servant nodded and fulfilled the priest’s wish. Then he helped the ancient to the open window.

The both couldn’t believe what they saw – the linden tree was full of blossoms.

Reverend Eberhard smiled, then he lost his last power and he fell to the ground.

Suddenly a wind gust blew through the tree and drove the fragrant blossoms through the open window till the dead man was completely covered.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their FlashCast 019 - Monster Lessons !


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Revenge of the Dead

Once there was a grave yard around Saint Stephen’s church; and there were some bone houses to keep the bones of the exhumed dead.

In the biggest of those bone houses burned an oil lamp day and night.

Once upon a time the sacristan of Saint Stephen’s visited a friend. They spent joyful hours together, they chatted and drank wine and so they forgot about the time.

So it came that it was already dark when the sacristan thought about to go home. His friend decided to go with him, because, well, the sacristan actually had drunk too much.

On their way they had to walk across the grave yard; and unfortunately a sudden gust blew out the candle of their lamp.

”Let’s go into the bone house to light up the candle again,” the sacristan suggested in his jolly mood.

”No, no, don’t do this. You know it’s a sin. You will disturb the dead,” his friend answered.

”Huh, what a coward you are!” the sacristan laughed, “Go home; go to bed where cowards belong to at such a time!”

The friend shrugged his shoulders and left in a huff.

The sacristan still laughing went into the bone house. It was deadly silent there. He lit his lamp, but careless as he was in his drunken state he extinguished the oil lamp of the bone house.

“You don’t need a light anyway,” he laughed, “you’re already dead!” and he started to move to the door.

Suddenly he heard a rumbling behind his back; and in the moment he turned around a big bone hit him on the chest. At the same time another bone smashed his lamp into pieces. Then a true shower of bones beat down on the sacristan.

The spook lasted till the clock stroke one. With his last power the man could leave the bone house, but as soon as he was outside he collapsed.

More dead than alive he was found in the next morning; and the same people also saw that the bones were scattered on the floor of the charnel house.

The sacristan couldn’t recover from that incident anymore; he got high fever and a few days later he deceased.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their FlashCast 018 - Happy Trails !


Monday, June 6, 2011

The Requiem at St. Stephen's

The Christmas Eve of 1363 was a cold and stormy night.

Reverend Graf Albrecht von Hohenberg sat in his warm and comfortable room. It was almost midnight and the candles still gave the man enough light to read the chronicles of Saint Stephen's church.

His mind was fully captured; he didn't even hear the noises of the storm.

There was one striking sentence. He read it again and again. "Those who are seen wearing a burial gown in the church, on Christmas Eve, will die within the next year."

The old man shook his head. He couldn't believe what he'd read, "Incredible. This must have been written by someone with too much imagination."

At that moment he heard the sound of the church's organ and the singing of a chorus.

He stood and went to the window. There was light in the church.

"Strange," he thought, "a mass at such a time?"

But he wanted to know what was going on, so he put on his coat and walked though the alleys of graves. On his way he prayed to God, "Whatever I see there, I won't be afraid. I know you are with me."

The brave man opened the door and walked into the church. He was very surprised to see the nave full of people; and he knew them. Everyone wore a burial gown.

He looked towards the altar wondering who was celebrating the mass. The priest there turned around to bless the praying people.
A cold shiver ran over his back - he saw himself.

In that moment the clock stroke one and the old priest found himself in an empty and dark church.

He hurried back to his warm room and wrote down what he had just experienced. Then he created a list with all of the names of the people he had seen there, not forgetting to put his own name at the end.

A year went by. It was Christmas again - but this time it wasn't a merry one.

An epidemic plague had afflicted Vienna and every single person on the priest's list, himself included, had passed away.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their FlashCast 016 - The Requiem at St. Stephen's !