The Wendelstein Church is the landmark of the Wendelstein par excellence. This Christian building owes its construction to the man known as the father of the Wendelstein, Max Kleiber, a professor of art who hailed from Munich.
"You’re up here all year and never get to church," was the only worry of Rosa Krimbacher, the first landlord of the Wendelsteinhaus, built between 1882 and 1883. This complaint did not go unheard by the passionate friend of the Wendelstein, Max Kleiber. He was given the ground by three farmers and the foundation for the construction of the Wendelstein Church was laid on 1 July 1889.
Tirelessly Max Kleiber searched for and found backers who financed the construction of the Wendelstein Church. The names of the donors are recorded inside the church, close to the entrance. One of the artistically designed glass windows also includes the coats of arms of the towns and countries from which the majority of the donations came – Max Kleiber also found backers from far-flung America.
Munich artists created the neo-Gothic building. The cross on the tower, gold-plated with seven ducats, was donated by the Munich manufacturer of ornamental trimmings to the court, Ludwig Beck. Max Kleiber refused to hand it over and carried the 85-pound cross single-handedly up to the top of the mountain. On 20 August 1890, the Munich Archbishop Antonius von Thoma inaugurated the Wendelstein Church to the Blessed Mother of God Maria, the Patrona Bavariae.
The Wendelstein Church was consecrated in 1890 in accordance with Pontifical regulations and is therefore Germany's highest church (Source: Archdiocese of Munich and Freising). The church on the Wendelstein is often erroneously described as the “Wendelstein Chapel”. Ecclesiastical law distinguishes between churches and chapels. Unlike a chapel, a church, as the building on the Wendelstein is designated, has certain (parish) rights.
There are many higher chapels, such as the one on the Zugspitze. The Wendelstein has both: Church and Chapel. A small St. Wendelin’s Chapel is located on the very summit of the Wendelstein. It was constructed in 1718 by a Bayrischzell farmer, in gratitude for the retrieval of his horses lost in the fog.
Mountain masses are held every Sunday at 11.00 am in the church on the Wendelstein between the months of May and October. Christian weddings are also celebrated in Germany's highest church on the Wendelstein.