The abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Nicholas, was founded in 1126 or 1127 in the bishopric of Würzburg by Conrad III of Germany, his consort Gertrude, who at her death in 1146 was buried here, and various Frankish nobles, including Berno and Richwin. It was settled by twelve monks from Morimond Abbey in Burgundy, under the first abbot, Adam of Ebrach. It was dissolved during the secularisation of Bavaria in 1803. The abbey church became the local parish church.
Since 1851 the premises have served as a prison (Justizvollzugsanstalt Ebrach) and since 1958 as a young offenders' institution. A museum and some remains of the abbey buildings can still be seen on guided tours.
Heart-burials of the Bishops of Würzburg
From the 13th century, the hearts of the bishops of Würzburg were brought after their deaths to the monastery in Ebrach; their entrails were despatched to the chapel of the Marienburg and their bodies to Würzburg Cathedral. About 30 hearts of bishops, some of which had been desecrated during the German Peasants' War, are said to have found their final resting place at Ebrach. The Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (d. 1617) broke with this tradition and left instructions for his heart to be buried in the Neubaukirche.
- (German) Klöster in Bayern: Ebrach
- (German) Ebrach Prison, Bayerisches Justizportal
- Heart rituals at Ebrach