The church of St. Michael’s College is a masterpiece in the rococo style. It is home to remarkable frescoes, altars and paintings.
Built in late Gothic style, the church of the St. Michael’s College was transformed in the 18th century into a rococo gem. The architect Franz Rabaliatti transformed the openings and vaults, while Giuseppe Albuzzi created an opulent stucco decoration.
Several frescoes describe the battle of good versus evil. Recognisable scenes include the archangel Saint Michel bringing down Lucifer (by Gottfried Locher, at the high altar), the fight between the good and bad angels, and Adam and Eve thrown out of paradise. Around ten Swiss marble varieties have been used for the altars in the chapels of the side aisles. An unusual organ occupies the gallery, the result of the merging in 1954 of two historical instruments, one assembled here in 1764, the other, built in 1826, from Hauterive Abbey. The St. Michael’s church is currently used mainly as a concert hall.
In order for the young people of Fribourg to be able to study in the town, the council asked the Jesuits (a religious order that is active in education) for help. Pierre Canisius arrived in Fribourg in 1580. He had already worked intensely as a theologian, adviser, preacher and writer. The first stone of the St. Michael’s College was laid in 1585, and the academy quickly gained in importance. Pierre Canisius was highly influential. After his death he was canonised (recognised as a saint) and his body lies beneath the church altar. Over time, the College has been enriched with several buildings, but the original plans have been conserved. You can take a walk in the large square in front of the church and in the garden of the interior courtyard adorned with a Madonna and Child escorted by cherubs, created by J.-F. Reyff.
The Valete festival, whose origins lie in a Jesuit tradition, has marked the end of the academic year at the St. Michael’s College since 1883. As early as the 19th century, people complained about the commotion, which "disturbed the sleep of the middle classes".
Guided tour of Fribourg
English, French, German
Saturdays from June to September
at 11 a.m. (lasting an hour and a half)
Booking by email or telephone +41 26 350 11 11.