Around the year 1000, account is given, for the first time, of the custom to cover altars, relics, paintings, even whole chancels with veils. These textiles were called Lenten veils. The great Zittau Lenten veil is the only one of its kind in Germany and, with 8,20 metres in height and 6,80 metres in width, the third largest traditional Lenten veil altogether. In the Museum „Kirche zum Heiligen Kreuz" (Church of the Holy Cross), it is displayed in the largest museum showcase of the world. The Great Zittau Lenten Veil is unique in Germany and of great significance for Europe.With 8.20 meters in height and 6.80 meter width, it is the third largest traditional Lenten veil ever.
Passage from the ticket office with accessible toilet to the church courtyard with ramp (11% gradient, 2.5 m long). Access to the interior of the church with mobile ramp (approx. 16% gradient, 0.8 m length). All doors >90 cm. Escort person recommended.
The Great Zittau Lenten veil (1472) and the Small Zittau Lenten veil (1573) are two rare mementos.
The small Lenten veil is displayed in the Kulturhistorisches Museum Franziskanerkloster (Cultural History Museum Franciscan Monastery). The small Lenten veil is the only exemplar of the so-called Arma Christi Type in Germany. Worldwide, only six veils of this type have survived.
The rulers of Upper Lusatia – or the “Äberlausitz”, as the locals call their region – often changed, and none of them ever lived locally, which meant that the region could preserve a lot of its autonomy. This also allowed for the peaceful coexistence of Germans and Sorbs, and of different religions as well. This is documented along the Via Sacra, a tourist route in the tri-border area between Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The holy cultural route leads to unique religious buildings and art treasures and is marked by sixteen stations. With the Reformation came the demand to open up education to everybody. It was probably for this reason that Martin Luther discouraged the destruction of religious images in his sphere of influence, because for him and other moderate Reformers in a time in which most people could neither read nor write, pictures from the Bible had great educational value. Unique in Germany are Zittau’s Lenten Veils, with which the altar was covered during Lent. One comes from the Catholic era and one from the Protestant era. The Great Lenten Veil shows 90 images from the Bible, and after its miraculous recovery in the days after the war, it is now on display in the world’s largest museum showcase in a former church in Zittau, where it hangs at its usual place in front of the altar.