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Corpus Christi 1724: When Schärding fell victim to the flames

Corpus Christi 1724: When Schärding fell victim to the flames
Votive picture of the devastating fire that put the town of Schärding into a state of emergency on Corpus Christi in 1724.
Rudolf Lessky, historian from Schärding
Illustration of the Schärdinger fortifications in the 16th century.
The castle park in Schärding is now a popular destination for tourists.

It was June 18, 1724, that would change the town of Schärding forever. On that day, the population celebrated Corpus Christi, one of the high feasts of the Catholic Church. Then, as now, the church congregation went from altar to altar on the occasion of the Corpus Christi procession. With them also went a delegation of the Citizens’ Guard, which fired cannons at each altar for the sacramental blessing. A tradition that still exists today in many communities.

In Schärding, however, this harmless church event led to a major catastrophe exactly 300 years ago. Schärding historian Rudolf Lessky has studied the issue in depth. “It was a chain of many unfortunate circumstances that led to the fire,” says Lessky. The civic guard fired firecrackers at the fourth station altar, which was located on the upper town square. A glowing cartridge fell by chance through an open attic window and from there into an open powder keg. This exploded with a second one and started the devastating fire. “Actually, the storage of powder in private attics was forbidden. That’s why there was an arsenal in the castle tower at the time. But that had just been demolished at the time, so the powder was temporarily stored in private houses,” says Lessky.

Rudolf Lessky, historian from Schärding
Image: vabeq

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Rudolf Lessky, historian from Schärding
Image: vabeq

Source: Nachrichten

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