St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey

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St. Georgenberg from the north
Fiecht Abbey from the east

St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey, the successor of St. Georgenberg Abbey, is a Benedictine monastery situated since 1708 in Fiecht in the community of Vomp in Tyrol, Austria; a pilgrimage church still stands on the original site on the Georgenberg. Founded in 1138, it is the oldest extant monastery in the Tyrol.[1]

History[edit]

View of Fiecht and the Georgenberg from the Kellerjoch
"Athos Georgianus": engraving of the humerus reliquary of Saint George
St. Georgenberg c. 1688, showing the Lindenkirche and the Hohe Brücke (19th century based on 1688 print)

According to tradition, the site's first use was as a hermitage in about the middle of the 10th century by Blessed Rathold (or Rapoto) of Aibling, of the ancient noble family of the Rapotonen, who established his cell on the Georgenberg ("St. George's Mount"), a rocky outcrop rising some hundred metres above the Stallental valley near Stans.[2]

Substantial donations to the community as early as 1000 or thereabouts from Albuin, Bishop of Brixen, and in 1097 from Emperor Henry IV suggest that by that time there was already a well-established monastery here rather than a simple hermitage.

The religious community at St. Georgenberg was turned into a Benedictine abbey in 1138 by Reginbert, Bishop of Brixen; the papal charter of confirmation is dated 30 April 1138.

On 31 October 1705 there occurred the fourth in a series of disastrous fires which ruined all the buildings, and the abbey was moved to a new site at Fiecht in the Inn valley. It became operative again in 1708.

Because of lack of funds, however, the new conventual buildings and church (begun in 1741 and finished in 1750; its tower was finished as late as 1781) were uniquely modest in their construction, but for that very reason are the more impressive as examples of Baroque architecture. Only the inside of the church and the trompe l'oeil façade, only visible from the monastic buildings, were finished in the typical style of the era: stuccoists of the Wessobrunn School, such as Franz Xaver Feuchtmayer the Elder and his brother Michael, the frescoist Matthäus Günther and other renowned sculptors from the Tyrol and elsewhere were engaged for these parts of the construction.

Ater the Treaty of Pressburg in 1806 the Tyrol was passed from Austria to Bavaria, and Fiecht Abbey was suppressed by the Bavarian government in 1807, but was restored in 1816, when the Tyrol again became part of Austria. It suffered from another serious fire in 1868 which ruined most of the collection of graphic art, but spared most of the library.

Between 1941 and 1945 the abbey was impounded by the Gestapo and the monks were exiled, to return after the end of World War II.

Since 1967 the abbey has been a member of the Ottilien Congregation (Missionary Benedictines) of the Benedictine Confederation.

Pilgrimage churches on the Georgenberg[edit]

The Wolfsklamm gorge

Pilgrimages here began around 1100 and increased after the "blood miracle" that is reported to have happened in about 1310. The main objects of veneration are Saint George, a Gothic Pietà sculpture from about 1415 and the reliquary of the Holy Blood.[3] The present Baroque church, dedicated to Saints George and James, was built after the 1705 fire on the site and to the approximate ground plan of the old church. The new building was finished in 1735, with further alterations in 1863 (frescoes) and 1866.

The Lindenkirche, a small church dedicated to Saint Mary, existed as a stone building from about 1230 and housed the Pietà until it was transferred to the larger rebuilt church of Saints George and James in 1736. Major changes to the building were made in 1759 and 1882, but its Romanesque porch is still intact.[4]

As otherwise there would be no access to the monastery except by strenuous climbing, a bridge was constructed by the 15th century, which had to be restored by 1709, after the great fire. Its name is the Hohe Brücke ("high bridge"). When walking up from Stans, however, many pilgrims still take the route that leads through the romantic Wolfsklamm gorge.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Along with Wilten Abbey in Innsbruck, the confirmation charter of which is supposedly dated on the same day as that of St. Georgenberg[citation needed]
  2. ^ The earliest documentation on this subject is the abbey's first printed chronicle of about 1480. Saint George is the patron saint of Aibling
  3. ^ in addition, the chronicle of 1480 lists relics of 132 saints
  4. ^ Data from official Tiroler Kunstkataster: see external links

References[edit]

  • Naupp, Thomas, 1987: 850 Jahre Benediktinerabtei St. Georgenberg-Fiecht, 1138-1988: Festschrift (580 pages) (quoted as "Festschrift"). ISBN 3-88096-631-1 (German)
  • Naupp, Thomas, 2000: Germania Benedictina Bd III-1 (article with what is probably the most recent data). ISBN 3-8306-7029-X (German)
  • N.N. (very probably by abbot Kaspar Augsburger): Chronicle printed around 1480, probably by A. Sorg in Augsburg. This is apparently the first printed book existing in Tyrol. It also lists all relics owned by the monastery. (German)
  • Herschl, Benedikt, abbot, 1652: Athos Georgianus, containing a list of relics, and illustrated with many engravings. Innsbruck. (German)
  • Jeffery, Peter, 1985: St. Georgenberg-Fiecht (Descriptive inventories of manuscripts microfilmed for the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library; Austrian libraries 2) (400 pages). Collegeville, Minn.: HMML.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°22′35″N 11°41′32″E / 47.37639°N 11.69222°E / 47.37639; 11.69222