Weingarten Abbey

Weingarten Abbey or St. Martin's Abbey (Reichsabtei Weingarten) is a Benedictine monastery on the Martinsberg (St. Martin's Mount) in Weingarten near Ravensburg in Baden-Württemberg (Germany).

First foundation

In 1056, Welf I, Duke of Bavaria, founded a Benedictine monastery on the Martinsberg, overlooking the village of Altdorf, an inheritance from his mother. The name Weingarten ("vineyard") is documented from about 1123. (In 1865, the village took the name of the monastery to become the present town of Weingarten). He settled it with monks from Altomünster Abbey. In 1126, Henry IX, Duke of Bavaria, withdrew here after his abdication; he died the same year and was buried in the abbey church.

The monks worked among other things at manuscript illumination. Their most famous work is the Berthold Sacramentary of 1217, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. Also of especial note is the Welfenchronik, written and illustrated in about 1190, chronicling and glorifying the House of Welf which had its seat at Ravensburg nearby.

The monastery was elevated to the status of a "Reichsabtei" (i.e., independent of all territorial lordship except that of the monarchy) in 1274.

It acquired territory of 306 km², stretching from the Allgäu to the Bodensee and including many forests and vineyards, and was one of the richest monasteries in southern Germany.

From 1715, the Romanesque abbey church, constructed between 1124 and 1182, was largely demolished, and replaced between 1715–1724 by a large and richly decorated Baroque church, which since 1956 has been a papal basilica minor. This church was intended to stand within a monastic site built to the ideal layout, but this undertaking was only partially completed as the north wing would have blocked the via regia or imperial road. Following the order on April 27, 1728 to stop construction on the north wing, the southern wing was extended and the east wing was completed.

In 1803, during secularisation, the abbey was dissolved. At first, it became part of the possessions of the House of Orange-Nassau, and then in 1806 part of the Kingdom of Württemberg. The buildings were used inter alia as a factory and as a barracks.

Second foundation

In 1922, Weingarten was re-founded and re-settled by Benedictines from Beuron Archabbey and from the English Abbey of Erdington (in a suburb of Birmingham) which had itself been settled from Beuron. In 1940, the monks were expelled by the National Socialists, but were able to return after the end of the war.

The monks are responsible for the management of the "Blutritt", or pilgrimage to the Reliquary of the Holy Blood in the abbey church; they also run a guesthouse.

Weingarten belongs to the Beuronese Congregation of the Benedictine Confederation. It is a monastery of two ecclesiastical traditions, or "rites". One part of the monks follow the Roman observance, the other part the Byzantine observance.


The abbey and the St. Martin's Basilica are a major attraction on the tourist route known as the Oberschwäbische Barockstrasse (Upper Swabian Baroque Route).

The current church was built between 1715 and 1724 in the Italian-German Baroque style according to plans by Franz Beer. The church is the second largest church in Germany, and is the largest Baroque church in Germany. The 102 meter long church is known as the "Swabian St. Peter's" since this church is almost exactly one-half the size of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Within the church is the famous Gabler Organ, a church organ that was built between 1735 and 1750 by Joseph Gabler. The organ has over 60 registers, 169 ranks, 63 voices and over 6600 pipes. It is considered the 44th largest organ in the world.

A wing of the abbey precincts accommodates the present monastery. Other parts of the former abbey house the Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten and the Academy of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

Abbots of Weingarten

  • Alto c. 750-ca. 770 (in Altomünster)
  • Marinus
  • Etto c. 780
  • Gelzo 780-792
  • ...
  • Rudolf c. 1000-1025
  • Eberhard c. 1025-c. 1040
  • Heinrich I 1040-c. 1070 (move to Weingarten 1055)
  • Beringer c. 1070-c. 1080
  • Adilhelm of Luxemburg c. 1080-c. 1088
  • Walicho c. 1088-c. 1108
  • Kuno Truchseß of Waldburg-Thann c. 1109-1132
  • Arnold c. 1133-c. 1140
  • Gerhard Truchseß of Waldburg-Thann c. 1141-c. 1149
  • Burkhard c. 1149-c. 1160
  • Dietmar of Matsch c. 1160-c. 1180
  • Marquard of Triberg c. 1180-c. 1181
  • Werner of Markdorff c. 1181-c. 1188
  • Saint Meingoz of Lechsgemünd c. 1188-1200
  • Berthold of Heimburg 1200-1232
  • Hugh de Montfort 1232-1242
  • Konrad I of Wagenbach 1242-1265
  • Hermann of Biechtenweiler 1265-1299
  • Friedrich Heller von Hellerstein 1300-1315
  • Konrad II von Ibach 1315-1336
  • Konrad III von Überlingen 1336-1346
  • Heinrich II von Ibach 1346-1363
  • Ludwig von Ibach-Heldenberg 1363-1393
  • Johann I von Essendorf 1393-1418
  • Johann II Blaarer von Guttingen und Wartensee 1418-1437
  • Erhard von Freybank 1437-1455 (d. 1462)
  • Jobst Penthelin von Ravensburg 1455-1477
  • Kaspar Schieck 1477-1491
  • Hartmann von Knorringen-Burgau 1491-1520
  • Gerwig Blarer von Görsperg 1520-1567
  • Johann III Halblizel 1567-1575
  • Johann Christoph Rastner von Zellersberg 1575-1586 (d. 1590)
  • Georg Wegelin 1586-1627
  • Franz Dietrich 1627-1637
  • Domenicus I Laumann von Liebenau 1637-1673
  • Alfons von Stadelmayer 1673-1683
  • Willibald Kobold 1683-1697
  • Sebastian Hyller 1697-1730
  • Alfons II Jobst 1730-1738
  • Placidus Renz 1738-1745 (d. 1748)
  • Domenicus II Schnitzer 1746-1784
  • Anselm Ritter 1784-1803

New foundation:

  • Ansgar Höckelmann 1922-1934 (or 1943)
  • Konrad Winter 1934 (or 1943)-1953
  • Wilfrid Fenker 1953-1975
  • Dr. Adalbert Metzinger 1975-1982
  • Dr. Lukas Weichenrieder 1982-2004
  • since 2004 Archabbot Theodor Hogg of Beuron has been administrator of Weingarten.


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