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Church Interior, Melk Abbey, Austria

Under imperial patronage the abbey at Melk became one of the richest in the Holy Roman Empire. The abbey church, built in the early 1700's, is a stunning reflection of Baroque art and architecture.

Melk is a small village located at the western end of Austria's Wachau Valley, one of the most picturesque stretches of the Danube River. If you take a river cruise on the Danube, Melk and its abbey will definitely be a stop along the way.

Chapelle des Penitents Blancs, Les Baux de Provence

The fortified village of Les Baux de Provence has commanding views of the Fontaine Valley, and one of the best spots to enjoy the view is from the square in front of this little church. The church was built by the Brotherhood of White Penitents in the 17th century. Today the interior is decorated with frescos by Yves Brayer, painted in 1974, showing scenes from a Provençal-style Shepherd's Christmas.

The Brotherhood of White Penitents is so named because of the white habits they wear, which to modern eyes, especially in America, look like Klu Klux Klan outfits.

Far from being some sort of racist organization, the White Penitents began in the 12th century as one of a number of Catholic confraternities that are dedicated to public service. Members of the White Penitents specifically were dedicated to caring for the sick, burying the dead, providing medical service for those unable to afford it, and giving dowries to poor girls.

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