Austria’s Catholic Church is trying a new strategy to attract the faithful: advertising its churches as places to cool off in a record heatwave.
As Austrians sweltered in temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), Catholic news agency Kathpress surveyed the country’s houses of worship Tuesday to find the coolest one.
“When air conditioning and the cool wetness of a lake or open-air pool are beyond reach, Austria’s churches can provide cool and spiritual refreshment at the same time,” it said.
Vienna’s chilliest church was a mere 24 degrees, with the crypt of St. Stephen’s Cathedral a frigid 14 degrees, Kathpress’s survey found.
Austria has been suffering from a heatwave in the last few weeks that has contributed to mass fires in parts of the northwest, while farmers have complained of serious drought. On Saturday, the alpine country registered a new record of 39.9 degrees.
A strongly Catholic country, Austria has a multitude of churches, many of them ornate, built in stone and with tall domes and arches so that the temperature inside often requires a light jacket.
Many Austrian faithful left the Catholic church following sexual abuse scandals that emerged in 2010. The majority of the country’s 8.43-million population, however, remain paid-up Catholics.
["Young Pastor With Wooden Cross And Rosary" on Shutterstock.]