The oil painting Alt Leogang by Michael Hofer has special significance for the region, as images of the municipality of Leogang in the mid-19th century are extremely rare.
If you view the centre of Leogang from the south, hardly anything has changed since Michael Hofer’s day. As then, the parish church of St. Leonhard and the historic ‘Kirchenwirt’ with its listed stable and farm buildings characterise Leogang in all its picturesque uniqueness.
It is assumed that the current parish church is at least the fourth sacred building to stand on this spot. The original patron saint of the church was St. Giles, but since 1477 it appears to have been St. Leonard, the so-called ‘God of Bavarian’.
St. Leonhard’s Church is unique because of the mighty iron chain around it. This rare motif is only found in churches dedicated to St. Leonhard, the ‘chain saint’. The people say ‘Mit seiner großen Ketten tut Leanhascht Leut und Vieh erretten’. (‘Leonhard will save the people and livestock with his chains.’)
St. Leonhard is pictured with a chain, as he strives to liberate prisoners. Since the 11th century he has been regarded as the patron saint of livestock, particular of horses. Incidentally, St. Leonhard’s Church is the only one of its kind in the archdiocese of Salzburg.
Behind the buildings on Hofer’s oil-on-cardboard painting is the picturesque backdrop of the Leogang Mountains, or ‘Pinzgau Dolomites’. The painting belongs to the Leogang Mining and Gothic Museum and bears Hofer’s handwritten title with his birth and death dates.