Einsiedeln Abbey

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Einsiedeln Abbey
Kloster Einsiedeln
Kloster Einsiedeln IMG 2852.JPG
Einsiedeln Abbey is located in Canton of Schwyz
Einsiedeln Abbey
Location within Canton of Schwyz
Einsiedeln Abbey is located in Switzerland
Einsiedeln Abbey
Einsiedeln Abbey (Switzerland)
Monastery information
OrderOrder of Saint Benedict
Dedicated toOur Lady of the Hermits
DioceseEinsiedeln territorial abbey
Founder(s)Eberhard of Strasbourg
AbbotUrban Federer O.S.B.
PriorDaniel Emmenegger O.S.B.
Important associated figuresSaint Meinrad
StyleBaroque (1704/1721)
LocationEinsiedeln, Canton of Schwyz, Switzerland
CoordinatesCoordinates: 47°07′36″N 08°45′5.3″E / 47.12667°N 8.751472°E / 47.12667; 8.751472
Public accessallowed
Other informationplace of pilgrimage, theological school, gymnasium (Swiss Matura, 350 students), work shops, plant nursery, viniculture, stud

Einsiedeln Abbey (German: Kloster Einsiedeln) is a Benedictine Catholic monastery in the village of Einsiedeln in the canton of Schwyz, Switzerland. The abbey is dedicated to Our Lady of the Hermits, in recognition of Meinrad of Einsiedeln, a hermit saint. A territorial abbey, Einsiedeln is not under the jurisdiction of a diocese or a bishop.

Einsiedeln Abbey has been a major resting point for centuries for pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain on the Way of St. James.

The abbey operates a private high school along with a winery, sawmill, restaurant and other small businesses in order to support itself.[1]


The history of Einsiedeln Abbey starts with Meinrad of Einsiedeln. Born in 797 to an aristocratic German family, he was educated at the abbey school on Reichenau Island in what is today Germany. Meinrad became a monk and was later ordained a priest. After gaining public attention for reportedly performing miracles, Meinrad established a hermitage in 829 in the Einsiedeln forest of Switzerland, searching for privacy. He was murdered by two robbers on January 21, 861.

Over the next 80 years, other hermits occupied Meinrad's hermitage. In 934 Eberhard, previously Provost of Strassburg, built the Einsiedeln abbey and church on the hermitage site, becoming its first abbot. According to legend, the church was consecrated in 948 in person by Jesus Christ the Four Evangelists, St. Peter, and St. Gregory the Great. Pope Leo VIII investigated and confirmed the miracle. It was last ratified by Pope Pius VI in 1793, who confirmed the acts of all his predecessors.

In 965 Gregory, the third Abbot of Einsiedeln, was named a prince of the Holy Roman Empire by Emperor Otto I. His successor abbots would hold that title until the dissolution of the empire in 1806. In 1039, Meinrad's relics were transferred from Reichenau Island to Einsiedeln for enshrinement. In 1274, the abbey and its dependencies were incorporated into an independent principality by Rudolf I of Germany. This gave the abbot political jurisdiction over the abbey lands.

During the early 16th century, the standards of discipline at Einsiedeln started to decline, but Ludovicus II, a monk of St. Gall who was Abbot of Einsiedeln from 1526 to 15544, restored a stricter observance. The abbey remained unaffected by the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland. Its leader, Huldrych Zwingli, studied at the abbey for a period of time. Abbot Augustine I (1600–29) led the movement to create the Swiss Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict in 1602. Augustine established unrelaxed observance in the abbey and promoted a high standard of scholarship and learning amongst his monks.

The Einsiedeln abbey church was rebuilt by Abbot Maurus between 1704 and 1719. In 1779, the abbey came under control of France during its invasion of Italy, losing its status as an independent principality. In 1854, a period of unrest in Western Europe, the Einsiedeln leadership became afraid that the abbey would be suppressed or dissolved. They sent a group of monks to southern Indiana in the United States to minister to German immigrants and develop a possible place of refuge. The monks started a new foundation, now Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana,

Einsiedeln Abbey celebrated the millennium of Meinrad of Einsiedeln in 1861. The abbey celebrated its own millennium in 1934. Pope Pius XI granted a pontifical decree of canonical coronation towards its venerated Marian image on 21 March 1934. The rite of coronation was executed by the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Alfredo Schuster. The abbey started renovations in 1977 that were completed in 1997.

Abbey today[edit]


The pilgrimages which have never ceased since the days of St Meinrad, have tended to make Einsiedeln on a par with the Holy House of Loreto and Santiago de Compostela, serving as a major stopping point on the Way of St. James leading there. The statue of Our Lady from the 15th century, enthroned in the little chapel erected by Eberhard, is the object of their devotion. It is the subject of the earliest preserved print of pilgrimage, by the Master E.S. in 1466.[2] The chapel is located in the great abbey church.

September 14 and October 13 are the chief pilgrimage days.

  • September 14 is the anniversary of the miraculous consecration of the original church in 948.
  • October 13 is the anniversary of the translation of Meinrad's relics to Einsiedeln in 1039

Expansion to America[edit]

Five monasteries were founded in the United States by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey:[3]

One monastery, now closed, was San Jose Priory in Solola, Guatemala.


The library contains nearly 250,000 volumes and many priceless manuscripts. . The library contains the Versus de scachis, the earliest mention of chess in Western literature.[4]

The work of the monks is divided chiefly between prayer, work and study. At pilgrimage times the number of confessions heard is very large In 2013, the community numbered 60 monks. Attached to the abbey are a seminary and a college for about 360 pupils who are partially taught by the monks, who also provide spiritual direction for six convents of Religious Sisters.

The monastery complex, the abbey's library, archives and music collection are listed in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance as Class A objects of national importance.[5]


One of the abbey's apostolates is a school (Gymnasium) for the seventh to twelfth grades which has existed in its present form since 1848. Its alumni include Gall Morel, Franz Fassbind, Philipp Etter, Hans Hürlimann and his son Thomas Hürlimann, Bruno Frick, and Anatole Taubman.

It is still a territorial abbey, meaning that it is located in a territory that is not part of any diocese which the abbot governs "as its proper pastor" (Canon 370, Codex Juris Canonici) with the same authority as a diocesan bishop.

Fahr Convent[edit]

Located in separate cantons, Einsiedeln Abbey and Fahr Convent, a community of Benedictine nuns, form a double monastery, both under the authority of the male Abbot of Einsiedeln. The female prioress of Fahr cannot be elected to oversee both communities.



Ufenau is a small island in Lake Zurich that is owned by Einsiedeln Abbey. Open to the general public, the island is home to a conservation area and tourist accommodation.


Endigen is a district in the town of Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland that is owned by Einsiedeln Abbey. It has been owned by the abbey since at least the 13th century. The Einsiedlerhaus, meaning "house of the Einsiedeln abbey" is an historic building in Endigen that is also owned by the abbey.[6]

Cultural Heritage[edit]



  • Moreau (Odile et Richard): D'Einsiedeln à la Salette au fil des siècles : avec les pėlerins comtois sur les pas de la Vierge Marie. L'Harmattan, Paris, 2012.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Schule & Betriebe". Kloster Einsiedeln (in German). Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  2. ^ Schmidt, Suzanne Karr. "Printed Bodies and the Materiality of Early Modern Prints," Art in Print Vol. 1 No. 1 (May–June 2011), p. 26.
  3. ^ "The Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation Catalog 2021" (PDF).
  4. ^ The Earliest Evidence of Chess in Western Literature: The Einsiedeln Verses, Helena M. Gamer, Speculum, Vol. 29, No. 4 (October 1954), pp. 734-750
  5. ^ "A-Objekte KGS-Inventar (Kanton Schwyz)" (PDF). Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Amt für Bevölkerungsschutz. 2015-01-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-17. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  6. ^ "Das Einsiedlerhaus in Rapperswil wechselt den Besitzer" (in German). Kapuzinerkloster Rapperswil, published by Markus Turnherr, Stadtarchivar, in Obersee Nachrichten. Retrieved 2015-09-12.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Abbey of Einsiedeln". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.