Namenspatronsfest St. Michael Ritterorden


The ‘Order of the Most Worthy Freemen and Knights of St. Michael’, MO, or the Order of the Knights of St. Michael for short, is one of the LazarusUnion’s longstanding friendly organizations. The mutual visits to their respective events are always among the highlights of the year for both organizations. It shows again and again how good it can be when groups with the same or similar goals celebrate together in comradeship, mutual respect and friendship over many years without ‘competitiveness’ and without ‘jealousy’.



At the invitation of

The Order of the Knights of St. Michael

on Saturday, 28 September, 2013

the Patron Saint’s Day

and Annual Convention

in the fortified church

of St. Michael-Wachau




 A report by Hans Rudolf Gries,

 translated by Mjr CSLI Mike Boxall


Dear friends and comrades!

We accepted this invitation straight away, but had some minor complications. Our SatNav took us to a white church on the left side ofMarket Street, but it was the wrong church. Excitedly the first guests there came to meet us but then had to re-direct us to the right church, pointing some kilometres further on to the fortifiedchurchof St. Michael.

We were not the only ones, the Order’s Cleric, Mag. Thomas Lackner who was to celebrate the Festive Mass, was virtually in the neighbourhood though on the other bank of theDanube, but only finally reached us an hour late. We took advantage of the time to take the obligatory group photos. No matter how the event is run, in the words of our Senator, Wolfgang Steinhardt, “one must have brilliant photos”.

The history of this ancient but modest fortified church was carefully explained to us (care of the lady sacristan) and its uniqueness pointed out. This was formerly the headquarters of an extensive parish and mother church of the Wachau, first mentioned in the year 987. The Gothic part of the church was built between 1500 and1523, but it was completely destroyed by two fires in 1532 and 1630 then restored in 1634. A real rarity is the organ of the church dating from 1650. Still playable, it is one of the oldest inAustria. On the church roof are seven animal figures representing deer and horses. In legend they are known as ‘the seven rabbits of St. Michael’.

Finally the Order’s Cleric arrived and the Festive Mass began. The musical accompaniment was by the Cantemus Choir under the direction of Mr. Erich Klug. At the end of the Mass, and after the blessing of the Insignia, Senator hc Wolfgang Steinhardt presented Grand Master Michael Kress of The Order of the Knights of St. Michael with a gilded and ornate chain of office as a personal gift.

Now at last former Mayor Prof. Fritz Bauer Mies could begin the wine presentation. All enjoyed the delicious wine, made from Grüner Veltliner grapes, and freshly baked bread. Briefly strengthened we proceeded to theAggsteinCastleruins. The dirt road from the parking lot up to the castle brought embarrassment to some ladies and gentlemen whose shoes couldn’t take the rough going, no problem for the ladies with a second pair in their car, but for the men Tixo duct tape had to serve…

The Order of the Knights of St. Michael then attended their Convention and General Assembly, in which our President participated as an honorary member. Most guests chose a tour ofAggsteinCastle.

A young lady castle guide explained the site’s history with anecdotes about the property. It was originally built in the 12th Century by Manegold the III. In 1181 it came into the possession of the Kuenringer family. The last Kuenringer, Leutold II, held the castle from 1348 to 1355 but after that it fell into disrepair. In 1429 Duke Albrecht V assigned the castle to Jörg Scheck von Wald commissioning him to rebuild the ruined castle to secure the passage of ships on theDanubebut, over time, he became a robber baron looting the ships on the river. in 1529 the castle was burned down by the Ottomans (during the first Turkish siege ofVienna). Again it was rebuilt and inhabited and was acquired in 1606 by Baroness Anna Polheim von Parz who built a small hospital in the grounds.

Only in 2003 did a project to make the castle ruins more attractive fix the defective masonry and redesign the lobby and the Knight’s Hall. Now it is a beautiful castle and a popular tourist destination. Personally, I could only shudder when I think of the practice of those times when Knights and other people only washed 1 or 2 times a year. In my mind I saw myself coming back from hunting or fighting, covered with a thick layer of dirt, to be received by my lady with no time to clean and no herbs or rose petals to help improve things!

Tired and rather cold, we went to the Gala Evening in the Great Hall. This began with the welcoming of the invited guests. The Radetzky Order, the Weinritter (an Association promoting wine culture and wine appreciation), the German Sister Order ofSt.Michael, the Ostarrichi Order, the Lions Club and the Lazarus Union were all represented.

Six new knights were enrolled. Mentors of the Order inGermany, the married couple Daume, were honoured as she became ​​an honoured Lady and her husband an Officer in the Order. Our President, Senator H.C. Wolfgang Steinhardt, was awarded the Silver Star of the Order Cross ‘with diamonds’ by the Grand Master. As the Grand Prior presented it, our President’s real joy was clear to see.

Finally the announcement was made: “The buffet is open.”

After all, we’d been looking forward to the castle’s special cuisine – pork fat with crackling, fried spare ribs, sausages, baked chicken, knuckles of pork, dumplings and cabbage were on offer and enjoyed. “Very tasty”, I’ll say! However, as it was a fine and respectable occasion, the bones remained on the plates not simply thrown over the shoulder inLockenhausCastlestyle, and we got knives and forks too! A sweet Knight’s dessert ‘served with thick plum sauce’ rounded off this meal.

Everyone was happy chatting, joking and singing and the Choir was in its element. Choral conductor Erich, immediately recognizing our talent, invited us to sing along and we didn’t really need any encouragement. Together we warbled through many a song. Respect! It seemed that, when things were at their most enjoyable, it was time to leave. After all we still had a long way to go to get home.

On behalf of the Lazarus Union, thank you very much Knights of St. Michael for organising this wonderful event.

I remain, until next time,


Hans-Rudolf Gries


Picture impressions:




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