Now you know why the Jesuits’ stupendously lavish baroque churches needed all those gilded churrigueresque curlicues, to better serve a didactic purpose. 

Their churches, often the greatest examples of baroque decoration, may seem to us headache-inducing explosions of gold paint and cherubs, but this Jesuit feeling of emotional excess was all in the service of teaching, and needed the images of exemplary lives and events that littered the ceilings and side-chapels.

For a great sampling of Winder’s triologisms, and a quote-packed tribute to his earlier book on Germany, see our bestellar review.


Source: Simon Winder, Danubia: A personal history of Habsburg Europe (London: Picador, 2013), p. 173


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