Today, citizens are returning to the "Plague Column" to pray for the end of the current pandemic.
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In 1679 the city of Vienna was hit by a brutal outbreak of plague that killed an estimated 75,000 people. Vienna was then the flourishing capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ruled over areas of modern day Austria, German, Italy and Hungary between 1867 and 1918. Emperor Leopold I had to flee the capital to protect his health and that of his family. But he decided to leave behind a mark of hope, a sign of his faith in God’s help to end the plague. He opted for a “mercy column” featuring the Holy Trinity and nine angels. At first, a rudimentary column made of wood was erected by local sculptor Johann Frühwirth. Subsequent revisions eventually led to the column’s final version to be inaugurated in 1694. Measuring 69 feet and featuring elaborate Baroque designs, the Plague Column is now considered a key landmark of the city of Vienna.