Rüti Abbey

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Amthaus and the former Abbey's church (January 2010)
As seen from Bandwiesstrasse
The entrance hall of the former abbey's church where the burial vault of the Counts of Toggenburg was situated
Interior respectively the Apse of the church
Ledger stone of knight Johann von Klingenberg
Abbot's Crozier, treasury of the former Rüti Abbey in the Stadtmuseum Rapperswil
Reliquiar estimated to be given by Elisabeth von Mätsch, wife of Count Friedrich VII of Toggenburg
Drawing by Johann Melchior Füssli (1700)
The abbey as seen from the Schanz ramparts in the north when the burned buildings were rebuilt (around 1706)
Map of the abbey (1800)

Rüti Abbey (Swiss German: Prämonstratenserkloster Rüti) was a former Premonstratensian abbey, founded in 1206 and suppressed in 1525, in the municipality of Rüti in the canton of Zürich, Switzerland. In the Zürcher Oberland, Rüti, the owner of extensive lands, was the final resting place of the Counts of Toggenburg, among them Count Friedrich VII and 13 other members of the Toggenburg family, and other noble families. Between 1206 and 1525, the abbey comprised 14 incorporated churches and estates at 185 localities.


In 1206, the estate for Rüti was given by Liutold IV, Count of Regensberg, and it was confirmed on May 6, 1219, by his brother, Eberhard, Archbishop of Salzburg. In the early 13th century a small church is mentioned in Unterbollingen, whose rights were transferred in 1229 by Rudolf (II) of Rapperswil and Diethelm of Toggenburg to the Premonstratensian Abbey in Rüti. On the Lake Zürich peninsula at Oberbollingen, a St. Nicholas Chapel is mentioned, where around 1229 a small Cistercian (later Premonstratensian) monastery was established by the Counts of Rapperswil. That nunnery is estimated to have been (administratively) part of the Rüti Abbey; in 1267 it was united with the nearby Mariazell Wurmsbach Abbey.

Initially founded as a branch of the Premonstratensian Abbey in Churwalden, Rüti Abbey, commonly known as Saint Mary abbey, was placed by the Bishop of Constance in 1230 to the Weissenau (Minderau) abbey and was part of the administrative district of Zirkaria Swabia. In 1286, for financial reason, the Countess Elisabeth von Rapperswil had to sell her farm estte in Oberdürnten including the associated rights (in particular the lower courts) to the Rüti Abbey.

The convent was generously endowed with money and goods by the aristocratic families in northeastern Switzerland, enabling it to buy the rights to parish churches and additional estates, among them in Bassersdorf, Dürnten, Elsau-Räterschen, Erlenbach, Eschenbach, Eschlikon, Fehraltorf, Fischenthal, Gossau, Hinwil, Hofstetten, Mönchaltorf, Neubrunn-Turbenthal, Rapperswil, Seegräben, Uster, Uznach, Wil-Dreibrunnen, Winterthur, Zollikerberg, Zollikon and Zürich. By gift, purchase and exchange, Rüti Abbey enlarged its ownership, concentrated in the early 15th century in Rüti (Ferrach and Oberdürnten), between Lake Greifen and Lake Pfäffikon and on the northeastern shore on so-called Obersee of Lake Zürich. Rüti was an important stage point along the Jakobsweg (Way of St. James) leading via Rapperswil to the Einsiedeln Abbey. In 1408, Rüti and the abbey came as part of the so-called Herrschaft Grüningen under the reign of the government of the city of Zürich. On June 11, 1443, marauders of the Old Swiss Confederacy plundered the abbey in the Old Zürich War, and the graves of Count Friedrich VII of Toggenburg and other nobilities (Count of Thierstein and others) were desecrated.

Burials at Rüti Abbey[edit]

On November 29, 1389, seven months after the Battle of Näfels, the abbot Bilgeri von Wagenberg moved about 100 bodies (in fact, their bones) of the Swiss-Austrian knights and soldiers, among them his brother Johann von Klingenberg, from the battle field and reburied them (most of them in a mass grave within the church) at Rüti Abbey. In 1436, Count Friedrich VII of Toggenburg died, and was buried in 1439 or 1442 in a chapel (Toggenburger Kapelle) given by his noble wife, Elisabeth von Mätsch. The members of the Toggenburg family probably were buried in the so-called Toggenburger Gruft, a burial vault (tomb) where is as of today the entrance hall to the church. In addition there was a large number of members of noble families/knights living nearby (Regensberg family excluded) and the families of the latter Amtsmann from 1525-1789. Most of these gravestones are lost, destroyed (probably the ones of the nobilities in June 1443 by the Swiss troops in the Old Zürich War), or were re-used for buildings etc.


On April 22, 1525 Abbot Felix Klauser, with important documents, money and parts of the abbey's treasury, fled for refuge to the city of Rapperswil, where he died in a house belonging to the abbey in early 1530. On June 17, 1525, following the Reformation in Zürich, the abbey was secularized; three of the monks converted to Protestantism and died in the Battle of Kappel, three remained in Rüti, and Sebastian Hegner, the last conventual died in exile in Rapperswil in 1561. The abbey's treasury, left in Rapperswil, is conserved today in the Stadtmuseum Rapperswil.

The enormous number of estates of the former abbey — around 185 localities in northeastern Switzerland — were managed as Amt Rüti by an Amtmann (member of the city of Zürich government) until 1798. Following the Reformation, Rüti got one of the first public schools in the canton of Zürich, established by the Zürich reformers and some of the former monks of the abbey.


The abbey comprised a hospital, a pilgrims hospice, stables, buildings for the monks, the cloister that was connecting the buildings protected by a stone wall, and a large number of additional buildings, among them at least one mill that was using the waterpower of the Schwarz and Jona rivers.

The present structure of the former abbey church, as of today the Reformed church in Rüti, was built from 1206 to 1283 and rebuilt in 1706 and again in 1770. The church has one tower on the south. The interior is decorated with painted stucco created in the 1480/90s.

Most of the abbey's buildings were destroyed by fire in 1706. The remaining buildings were built probably in the early 16th century: the so-called "Spitzerliegenschaft" (stable and warehouse) and the Pfarrhaus (rectory). The Amthaus (Bailiff's house) was rebuilt in 1706 and serves as library, Kindergarten, as a museum of local history and site of the archives of the municipality of Rüti.

List of Abbots[edit]

Name[1][2] acted as[2] from/to[1][2] remarks
1. Ulrich Propst 1206–1221
2. Luther Prior, Propst 1221–1224
3. Eberhard Propst 1224–1226
4. Berchtold Abbot 1226–1237
5. Ulrich II. Propst 1237–1257
6. Heinrich I. Abbot 1259–1266
7. Wernher Prior, Abbot 1272 (?)
8. Heinrich II. Abbot
9. Walther Abbot 1279–1283
10. Johannes I. von Rheinfelden Abbot 1286–1300
11. Johannes II. Abbot 1300–1317
12. Hesso Abbot 1319–1342
13. Heinrich III. von Schaffhausen Abbot 1346–1379
14. Bilgeri (Peregrinus) von Wagenberg Abbot 1379–1394
15. Gottfried (Götz) Schultheiss Abbot 1394–1422
16. Albrecht (Albertus) Abbot 1422–1426
17. Johannes III. Zingg Abbot 1428–1446
18. Johannes IV. Murer Abbot 1446–1467
19. Ulrich Tennenberg Abbot 1467–1477
20. Markus (Marx) Wiler Abbot 1477–1502
21. Felix Klauser Abbot 1503–1525 Felix Klauser died in early 1530. Andreas Diener was chosen to be his successor, on April 5, 1530, the election was revoked.



  1. ^ a b Bernard Andenmatten und Brigitte Degler-Spengler (Red.): Die Prämonstratenser und Prämonstratenserinnen in der Schweiz. In: Helvetia Sacra IV/3, Basel 2002. ISBN 978-3-7965-1218-6
  2. ^ a b c Orsmuseum und Chronik der Gemeinde Rüti


  • Peter Niederhäuser und Raphael Sennhauser: Adelsgrablegen und Adelsmemoria im Kloster Rüti. Kunst + Architektur in der Schweiz, Vol 54, No. 1, 2003.
  • Bernard Andenmatten und Brigitte Degler-Spengler (Red.): Die Prämonstratenser und Prämonstratenserinnen in der Schweiz. In: Helvetia Sacra IV/3, Basel 2002. ISBN 978-3-7965-1218-6
  • Emil Wüst: Kunst in der Reformierten Kirche Rüti ZH. Hrsg. Kirchenpflege Rüti, 1989.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°15′33″N 8°50′57″E / 47.25917°N 8.84917°E / 47.25917; 8.84917