:: church foundation


St. Kajetan, a collegiate church in the heart of Munich and situated directly on the Odeonsplatz, is apart from the Frauenkirche one of the most important churches in the city where it is well known and loved by the public. Nowadays, it is called “Theatinerkirche” as the order of Theatine was formerly located there. Today, the church is pastorally served by Dominicans who live in the enclosed cloister.


Being one of the early significant Baroque churches in Bavaria, St. Kajetan was built according to the model of Sant’ Andrea della Valle in Rome, the mother church of Theatiner. The Bavarian Princess Elector Henriette Adelaide of Savoyen donated the building of the church in 1663. Its consecration followed up in 1675.


The church was designed by the Italian architect Agostino Barelli from Bologna. The artistic definition was later carried out by his compatriot Enrico Zuccalli and finally completed by Cuvilliés and his son in 1768 - approximately 100 years later. The rich and opulent stucco works inside the church are particularly remarkable. Moreover, the numerous, artistically equipped side altars have always been a magnet for tourists.


Until World War II, the imposing church ship to the choir was closed by a monumental choir screen, with a tabernacle in the middle and flanked by a portal at the left and right hand side. In front of these portals two evangelist figures were put up on pedestals on each side. The whole figurative decoration is a work of the sculptor Balthasar Ableithner.


For more information please visit the homepage of St. Kajetan:






:: balthasar ableithner


The Electoral Bavarian court sculptor Balthasar Ableithner (1613 - 1705) created important parts of the original interior decoration for St. Kajetan. Its central work consists of the monumental wooden sculptures of the four Evangelists, who watch over the portals of the choir screen.


The art historically significant figures emerged between 1670 and 1672, in only two years and are Balthasar Ableithner’s most important achievement. Other sacral carvings from his hand can be found in various churches in Munich. However, none of his other works reaches to the prominence of the Evangelists in Theatine Church.


Ableithner brought much of his sculptors’ art from study trips to Italy. Nevertheless, in his interpretation of the four evangelists with their physical presence it is evident that he rather was oriented towards works of local predecessors in Munich such as the former court sculptor Hans Krumpper. The gesture and interiority of his figures in contrast show the first tentative outlines of a new style, the Baroque.


:: world war II

At the end of World War II, Munich was, like other German cities, a target of allied air attacks. The Theatine Church was, unfortunately, not spared the resulting damages, as it was hit four times by bomb attacks. There was a fire inside the church, which especially destroyed parts of the wood and textile artwork.


The four wooden Evangelist figures of Balthasar Ableithner were burnt as well. However, the Evangelists St. Mark and St. John were positioned in front of the southern portal of the choir screen and both survived the fire, apart from small damage, quite well. On the portal itself there was an angel, which also was preserved except for its wings.


On the northern side, the damages were by far more serious. The figure of the Evangelist St. Matthew as well as the angel which stood on top of the portal were destroyed completely. The sculpture of Evangelist St. Luke, which also was set up at the northern portal burnt internally and eventually broke into several pieces, so that only around two thirds of it remain today.


After the War, the largely intact figures of the Evangelists St. Mark and St. John were set up on the northern and southern nave altars respectively in order to replace the destroyed stucco figures that had been there previously. The rest of the choir screen with altar, tabernacle and the remaining rest of the portals were torn down completely. The left-over pieces of the Evangelists and the preserved fragments of the Evangelist Luke have been stored in different locations.


Today, only archive photos provide information about the splendor of the former choir screen and its figures. These pictures, which had been taken before the destruction of World War II, formed an important source for the monument preservation researches and the supplements.




:: condition today

During the last inside renovation of the Theatine Church, which began in the late 1990s, both altars were scaffolded in order to be restored. While this work was going on, the figures of the Evangelists St. Mark and St. John (which, in the meantime, had almost been forgotten standing on the nave altars) were rediscovered. The pieces of both Evangelists, a lion and an eagle, were found again in a chamber of Theatine Church.


In 2004, both figures were finally taken from the altars into the nave. Together with 1:1 models of the portals the figures were afterwards provisionally repositioned in the choir chamber. This was done by the Faculty for Restoration, Art Technology and Restoration Science of the Technical University (TU) in Munich under the direction of Prof. Erwin Emmerling.


In 2005 the sculptor Joerg Maxzin reunited the remaining fragments of the Evangelist Lukas in the workshops of the TU Munich. This third figure was then set up – however fragmentary - in the choir chamber.


The still preserved angel, which stood on the southern portal, after the War had been freshly colored and was set up in the vestry. Its wings, which were burnt during the War, in 2007 were supplemented in wood so that this figure was also set up provisionally in the church.


From 2008, the supplement of the sculpture of St. Luke was realized by the 3D lab at Deggendorf Institute of Technology under the direction of the sculptor and professor for 3D animation Joerg Maxzin, as described on this website and detailed in the publication "Lukas aus der Asche" (Luke from the Ashes). The work was completed in 2015.


A re-creation of the completely burnt sculpture of St. Matthew, erected in 2017, was created by the sculptor Giuseppe Ducrot. The realization in basswood came from the hand of the sculptor Gregor Prugger.



Choir screen – around 1930

Photograph: Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments

Head of St. John the Evangelist

Photograph: Joerg Maxzin

Destroyed nave – after 1945

Photograph: Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments

:: deutsch


Mounted supplements on St. Luke

Photograph: Deggendorf Institute of Technology

© 2017 Deggendorf Institute of Technology

© 2017 Deggendorf Institute of Technology

© 2017

© 2017 Deggendorf Institute of Technology