History of the ”Judas-Thaddäus” Chapel on the Ohmen
The name of the mountain ”Ohmen” seems to be of Celtic origin. It means ”mountain of peace”.
The worship of Holy Judas Thaddäus in this place of originally pagan character is closely related to the history of the monastery (12th century).
In 1146, Holy Bernhard of Clarivaux started his famous journey to the Breisgau. He was known for his adoration of the apostel Judas Thaddäus. From then on, worship of Holy Judas Thaddäus as well as the importance of the Ohmen Chapel in St. Märgen grew enormously.
After the 2nd founder of the Augustine monastery of St. Märgen - abbot Andreas Dilger - had received a Judas Thaddäus relic from the prior of the Carthusians in 1722, he arranged for the construction of a chapel on September 25th, 1726. This little
wooden chapel nearly had room enough to welcome the numerous pilgrims coming to St. Märgen. An entry in the abbot's diary of July 9th, 1734 says: ”I have laid the foundations of the Chapel of Holy Judas Thaddäus. It is built in honour of Virgin Mary and her groom Holy Joseph as well as of all holy angels, all holy penitents and the 14 friends in need.
The foundations content relics of ”our Holy Peter Forerii” (compare statue at the high altar in the pilgrims' church of St. Märgen) and of ”Holy Judas Thaddäus”.
A diary entry of abbot Peter Glunk, dated October 28th, 1736 tells us:
"I blessed the Chapel of Holy Judas Thaddäus; I held the divine service in this place of worship and I took with me a part of Holy Judas Thaddäus' hand - a relic I had received from the Carthusians. Soon afterwards, the nearly ruined chapel walls had to be renewed. On September 15th, 1749 the chapel was consecrated by Franz Karl Joseph Fugger, the bishop of Constance.
In 1964, the outside walls had to be completely restored. After that, the high altar was consecrated by suffragan bishop Karl Gnädinger on September 21st, 1968 on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the monastery. At the same time, Gnädinger inserted a relic of Holy Judas Thaddäus into the altar of this venerable chapel, a present from Pope Johannes XXIII handed out by general superior P. Bonaventura Schweizer from Ebnet near Freiburg.
Visit to the Chapel Inside
The high altar is dedicated to Holy Judas Thaddäus and the angels. In the lower part, the picture represents the martyr's death of Holy Judas Thaddäus and above it the apostel's transfiguration. It is regarded as on of the best portrayals of the famous intercessor. Unfortunately, we do not know the name of the artist responsible for the three altar pieces. On the right and left side of the altar we see statues of Holy Petrus with his cross showing to the bottom and of Holy Andreas with the Andreas'cross. The statues remember the abbots Peter Glunk and Andreas Dilger, the two main designers of the Ohmen chapel, who revived the worship of Holy Judas Thaddäus lasting for centuries.The most brilliant figure of the altar is the statue of archangel Holy Michael.
The right side altar is dedicated to Holy Wendelin; it's the penitents' altar. In the lower part of the altar piece we see the penitents Magdalena and Holy Thais giving comfort to a woman. Holy Thais is an Egyptian penitent of the 14th century. We can see Kind David with his harp and in the middle of the altar piece Holy Petrus admitting his guilt and pointing to the letters that verify his power of the keys. In the upper part there is a portrayal of Holy Augustinus with his heart in his hand. The most beautiful decoration of this side altar is the statue of Holy Wendelin. On the altar's sides there had been statues of Holy Magdalena and Holy Katharina. The latter one was stolen, just like the famous works of Matthias Faller on the cross way leading to the chapel.
The left side altar is dedicated to Holy Abbot Magnus of Füssen and the 14 friends in need. These are saints the pious people apealed to when they were in need and difficulties (e.g. in the years of raging plague in the 14th century); They are : the martyrs Achatius, Barbara, Blasius, Christophorus, Cyriakus, Dionysius, Erasmus, Eustachius, Georg, Katharina, Margaretha, Pantaleon, Vitus and the only non-martyr Ägidius. Sometimes one or the other saint had been replaced over the years or added to the 14 saints. This is true for the saints Leonhard, Oswald, Rochus and Wolfgang.
Often the Holy Virgin is in the centre of the portrayal. The magnificent statue of Holy Magnus of Füssen is on top of the altar (on the altar's sides there had been statues of Holy Aloysius and Holy Johannes Nepomuk).
In the middle of the ceiling frescos we see Satan's fall caused by Michael, the Annunciation scene and the guardian angels - worth mentioning for the angels are the secondary patrons of the chapel.