Das Latschacher Fastentuch von Valentin Oman

Birgit Stegbauer

In Carinthia Lenten veils from many periods are preserved and shroud the high altars of some Catholic churches during the 40 days of the Lenten season that precede the Easter celebrations. But it is not only antique Lenten veils that are hoisted. Since the late 20th century this tradition has seen a real renaissance. The Latschach Lenten veil, designed by Valentin Oman in 2006, is an example for a modern interpretation of this old custom. It is on display until Holy Saturday. The Latschach church is open daily from 8am to 4 pm.


Lenten veils cover the altar, they obstruct the view to something that can be seen the whole rest of the year. While in former periods Lenten veils were intended as a method of penance - because it blocked the view to the church's very central element, the altar -, they are nowadays regarded as a means to reflect and meditate. By altering the room and therefore our perception of the room, they invite us to rethink traditional places, common habits. In its simplest form, such a Lenten veil is just a blank cloth. Where, however, Lenten veils are decorated, their common theme is the Crucifixion and thus the Salvation.


The Latschach Baroque church St. Ulrich, erected in 1752, commissioned Valentin Oman in 2006 with a Lenten Veil, which was first hoisted in 2007. It shows the 14 Stations of the Cross, done as a digital print on a 8x5m big white canvas. The Stations of the Cross illustrate the ordeal of Jesus Christ, starting with his Condemnation until the Death on the Cross and the Sepulchre. While praying the Stations of the Cross, the believers have compassion with Jesus's sufferings: the Flagellation and the Crowning with Thorns, Jesus on the road to Calvary, the Weight of the Cross, the Falls, the Encounter with his mother Mary, the Crucifixion and finally the Sepulchre - the 14th Station of the Cross.


Contrary to tradition, the crosses in the Latschach Lenten veil symbolize the Greek cross, the letter Tau. They follow a pattern, being all identical in shape, size and position within their frame. When looking closer, you'll discover, that the bars of the crosses consist of newspaper articles, some partly painted over with black ink roller - like the printing rolls from the printing houses. Only now the scenery gets added, figures, some sparse details, but never executed in detail - what you see reminds you more of brief, volatile sketches. The colour palette is restricted to a few colours only, mainly white, grey, black and red, while the strokes of the brush are most expressive, as if they have to endure all the pain, the ordeal that Jesus Christ had to suffer on the Way of the Cross. Then, in the last Station - the Sepulchre - all suffering has come to an end and the colour palette changes into a deep blue. The grief has altered into an endless, heaven-like peace.


It is a conciliatory gesture that the internationally renowned artist Valentin Oman (*1935) was chosen to create the Lenten veil. Not only does he live in a neighbouring municipality of Latschach, he also belongs to the Slovenian speaking minority of the Rosental valley, which was subjected to deportations due to ethnical reasons during the years of the Nazi regime and which, not so long ago had to fight for their minority rights.


This notwithstanding, Valentin Oman's Stations of the Cross results from personal experiences during the outbreak of the Yugoslavian Wars in 1991. Oman was just visiting Piran, a small Slovenian city by the Adriatic, when he found himself next to the chaos, the sufferings, the misery that the first violent clashes of ethnical conflicts brought to the peoples of the former Yugoslavian Republic. Based on these experiences, Oman created the so-called 'Piran Stations of the Cross', a sequence of fourteen wooden panels, each 220x150 cm in dimension, with collages made out of newspaper articles and acrylic paint. This 'Piran Stations of the Cross' can nowadays be seen in the church of Tanzenberg/Plešivec. As for the Latschach Lenten Veil it was photographed, digitally edited and printed on canvas.

Please click here for more information in German.


Catholic Parish of Latschach/Loce

Rosentalerstraße 36
9582 Latschach/Loce

Phone: 04254 2732

Other recommendations