Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Salzburg’s Cathedral “Door of Hope”

July 30th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

I have posted before on my wish that we would pay more attention to the doors/entrances to our new churches. I would especially like to see entrances that proclaim the sacred purpose of the churches. I think the doors should be an important budget line in the building or renovation project -well ahead of the comfort of the seats inside.

Below is a set of doors created by Ewald Mataré in 1956-58 for Salzburg Cathedral in Austria. It is called the Door of Hope and is one of the three doors that form the main entrance to the church. The other two, by two different artists, are the doors of Faith and Charity.

The design of the door is quite unique but still draws upon traditional Christian iconography.


(Click on photos to view larger images) 


"Door of Hope" by Ewald Mataré, 1956-58, Salzburg Cathedral, Austria.


The door depicts the Annunciation. The hand, of course, is a traditional way of symbolizing God or the voice of God. The sun or firery ball represents the Holy Spirit who is sent by the Father to "overshadow" Mary. A heavenly host of angels surround the Hand and emphasize the transcendant nature of the source of Gabriel's message.


Mary is enclosed within a Rosary -"Hail, Mary full of grace..." A Latin inscription next to the figure translates "In you we hope."


The "Nativity."

The banishing of Adam and Eve from Paradise; Mary's response to Gabriel restores our hope.

What are the little white (and green) things? Anyone have an idea?

I had not even seen pictures of the door before our visit to Salzburg a few weeks ago. After my initial “Whaaaat the heck…” and a little closer examination I finally came around to seeing it as a beautiful piece of liturgical art. Now, it does cross over somewhat deeply into personal vision and expression but it does in fact draw upon traditional iconography in its details. I’m not sure I could go along with this in the chancel area of the church, but on the doors I’m okay with it. In my opinion, liturgical art farther from the chancel and altar can be more innovative and personal in expression, more unique and original -as long as it is unambiguously orthodox.

The composition resembles an hour glass or a large X. The pinched or narrow center emphasizing the all important moment of the annunciation, setting-up visual symbolic tension as we await Mary’s answer upon which our hope of salvation hinges.


Photos by Bernie





4 Responses to “Salzburg’s Cathedral “Door of Hope””

  1. Mike says:

    What are the little white (and green) things? Anyone have an idea?

    Leaves, maybe? The whole collection of them does look something like a tree.

  2. Raymond F. Rice says:

    How about a little bit on Ghiberti’s doors and Rodin’s?? thanks

  3. Hopefull says:

    Raymond, see Rodin’s Gates of Hell here”

  4. Mary-Kathleen says:

    Dogwood blossoms???

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