|Report and pictures by Hannes Hochmuth
|Translated into English by Mjr CSLI Mike Boxall|
On 27th September, the Order of Knights of St. Michael celebrated the Feast of St. Michael in the ancient fortified church of St. Michael at Weissenkirchen. (First mentioned in documents in the year 987, this was formerly an extensive parish and mother Church of the entire Wachau region.)
The Order of Knights of St. Michael is one of the long-time friends of the LAZARUS UNION and is always a welcome guest at our events. Therefore we happily accepted the invitation to their Convention and Patron-Saint Festival, and a 14-member delegation (10 Knights of Honour and four senior members of the Corps Saint Lazarus Austria (CSLA) with flag) represented the LAZARUS UNION at this beautiful celebration.
Presently more friendly organisations and guests arrived: The Radetzky Order, the Knights of the Wine, the Knights of the Heart from Tyrol, the German Order of Knights of St. Michael and many other guests.
The Mayor of St. Michael / Weissenkirchen, Dipl.-Ing. Anton Bodenstein, honoured the festival with his presence and made a very heartfelt keynote speech.
At 14:00 the solemn procession into the church began. The Pastor of the Church, Reverend Peter Rückl M.A., celebrated solemn Mass with a wonderful musical accompaniment from the Cantemus Choir, under the direction of Choir Director Erich Klug. It was a real ‘auditory delight’!
After the Service, and the usual group photos (there were about 70 participants this year) a wine presentation at the Bayer Winery was announced. All the participants were able to enjoy delicious Grüner Veltliner and freshly baked bread. Thus strengthened, we proceeded to the castle ruins of Aggstein using the ferry at Weissenkirchen to cross the Danube to Aggstein.
After all the participants had arrived at the Aggstein ruins, the Convention (General Assembly) of the Order of Knights of St. Michael (correctly: ‘The High Laudable Order of the Freemen and Knights of Saint Michael’) was held. On the occasion of this Convention, Prof. Guido Mancusi M.A. was elected new Grand Master.
While the Order’s General Assembly was being held the guests enjoyed a champagne reception, including a stunning ‘apricot champagne’, and of course tours of the Castle and the Nibelungen Exhibition.
At 18:00 the ceremony started for all Order members and guests with a solemn entry of the Knights and the Chapter in the beautifully restored grand hall of Aggstein Castle.
The highlight was the new Grand Master swearing his oath and then being solemnly inaugurated in front of the entire congregation by the Grand Prior of the Order, Dr.hc. Gerhard Ficker.
Various awards were made to deserving members and a new Knight was admitted to the Order.
The ceremonial Knighthood was granted by the new Grand Master with the traditional words: “… Receive as a sign of humility, this last blow and accept as a knight then no more…”
The ‘best knightly saying’ was then announced: “The buffet is open.”
The ‘Aggstein Castle feast’ was fragrant and ready. Fried spare ribs, chips, sausages, baked chicken from the castle, dumplings, cooked cabbage and lettuce were offered and gallantly eaten. A sweet knight’s dish: ‘flaky dumplings with stewed fresh plums’, rounded off this superb meal.
It was a very friendly and harmonious celebration for which we thank you very much in the Order of Knights of St. Michael and look forward to next year. As our President particularly pointed out in his message “… It’s nice to have friends who pursue common objectives and who do not indulge in petty and blinkered ‘competition’.
At the height of the celebrations we had to depart, after all, we still had a long way to go, with the autumn mist (or was it something else) accompanying us on our journey back to Vienna.