• Facade - Silent Night Museum
  • Pflegerschlössl, Carer Castle

The Joseph Mohr Relief

In 1908, a memorial initiative was started in Wagrain under the pastor Dr. Augustin Reiter. The people of Wagrain wanted to honour Joseph Mohr, the now famous poet of "Silent Night! Holy Night!", on the occasion of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the song. They commissioned the artist Josef Mühlbacher to create it.

However, there was no contemporary photograph or portrait of Mohr. The picture "Mohr at the Parade Bed" was not sufficient for Mühlbacher. On the basis of the shape of the skull, the sculptor was to record what Mohr might have looked like. So in 1912, the skull was exhumed under the direction of Father Josef Rosenstatter.

Josef Mühlbacher made a relief measuring about 100 x 80 cm, which he had cast in bronze. However, the First World War, the ensuing economic crisis and devaluation of money made it impossible for the people of Wagrain to purchase the work of art at that time. In 1916 Mühlbacher took the relief with him to his new parish of Zell near Kufstein.

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  • Shortly after Mühlbacher's death in 1933, the original relief for Joseph Mohr was sold elsewhere. The skull of the vicar, however, disappeared in the turmoil of time. Whether it was really brought to Oberndorf, as a note by Mühlbacher suggests, is not documented.
    The relief, on the other hand, experienced an adventurous journey from Kufstein to Brazil and returned to Austria in 1967, where it came into the possession of the Heimatverein Kufstein and finally to the Feste Kufstein.

    The "Blue Window" cultural association worked to obtain a copy of this relief for Wagrain, the installation of which took place in the park in front of the museum in June 2023. The Silent Night Museum in the Pflegerschlössl documents the history of the skull and the Joseph Mohr relief in a newly created exhibition area. The sculptor's workbook, numerous illustrations from it and a scaled-down copy of the relief illustrate this exhibition area.
  • Josef Mühlbacher - priest and sculptor (* 1868 in St. Margarethen in Lungau, † 1933 in Zell near Kufstein)

    Josef Mühlbacher was born on 4th March 1868 in St. Margarethen im Lungau. He attended the Borromäum in Salzburg from 1879 to 1887 and then studied theology.

    In 1890, at the age of 22, Mühlbacher was ordained priest. From 1895 to 1916 he worked at the church of Maria Loreto in Radstadt.

    In 1916 he became parish priest in Zell near Kufstein.

    In 1927 he suffered a stroke during a church service, which paralysed him on the right side and severely limited his further artistic activities.

    He retired in 1932 and died the following year.
  • Mühlbachers artistic talent attracted the attention of the then Archbishop Johannes Katschthaler, who enabled him to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1909 to 1914. At the same time, he studied art history at the University of Vienna.

    During this time he was also able to undertake study trips to Italy, Dalmatia and Greece. Josef Mühlbacher created numerous statues and reliefs in stone and bronze, including the statue of St. Blasius at the Pile Gate in Dubrovnik and the larger-than-life expressive bronze statue of David and Goliath at Franz-Josef-Platz in Kufstein.

    From 1910 onwards, Mühlbacher worked on Joseph Mohr and a monument for Wagrain. This became the basis for the Mohr-Gruber monument in Oberndorf near Salzburg, which was created in 1928.


Silent Night Museum in the Pflegerschlössl
Museumsgasse 3, A-5602 Wagrain

Phone: +43 6413 201 69
Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourism, Phone: +43 6413 8448
Kulturverein Blaues Fenster, Phone: +43 664 236 00 14