Einsiedeln Abbey

Coordinates: 47°07′36″N 08°45′5.3″E / 47.12667°N 8.751472°E / 47.12667; 8.751472
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Einsiedeln Abbey
Kloster Einsiedeln
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
Coordinates47°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 Catholic monastery administered by the Benedictine Order in the village of Einsiedeln, Switzerland. The abbey is dedicated to Our Lady of the Hermits, in recognition of Meinrad of Einsiedeln, a hermit Catholic saint. The monastery is not under the jurisdiction of a diocese or a bishop because it is a territorial abbey.

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 Ildefonso Schuster, coinciding with the abbey’s millennium on 14 September 1934.

The abbey has been a major resting point for centuries for pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain on the Way of Saint 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 in January 861.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

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 1544, restored a stricter observance. The abbey remained unaffected by the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland. Its leader, Huldrych Zwingli, had studied at the abbey for a period of time.[3] 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 the control of France during its invasion of Italy, losing its status as an independent principality. In 1854, during a period of unrest in Western Europe, the Einsiedeln leadership became afraid that the abbey would be suppressed or dissolved.[clarification needed] 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. The abbey celebrated the millennium of Meinrad of Einsiedeln in 1861.

The abbey started renovations in 1977 which were completed in 1997.

Pontifical coronation[edit]

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 Ildefonso Schuster, coinciding with the abbey’s millennium on 14 September 1934.

Marian veneration[edit]

The canonically crowned image of Our Lady of Hermits.

The religious pilgrimages which have never ceased since the days of Saint Meinrad, have tended to make Einsiedeln on a par with the Basilica della Santa Casa and Santiago de Compostela, serving as a major stopping point on the Way of Saint James leading there. The statue of the Virgin Mary from the 15th century is enshrined within the chapel erected by Eberhard, and remains the venerated object of their devotion. It is the subject of the earliest preserved print of pilgrimage, by the anonymous artisan Master E.S. in 1466.[4] The chapel is located in the great abbey church.

September 14 and October 13 are the main days of pilgrimage.

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

Status today[edit]

Expansion to America[edit]

Five monasteries were founded in the United States by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey:[5]

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.[6]

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 consecrated religious women.

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.[7]


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 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 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 also owned by the abbey.[8]

List of abbots[edit]

Abbot of Einsiedeln
Name from to
Eberhard [de] 934 958
Seliger Thietland 958 964
Seliger Gregor 964 996
Wirunt 996 1026
Embrich 1026 1051
Hermann I 1051 1065
Heinrich I 1065 1070
Seliger von Wolhusen 1070 1090
Rudolf I 1090 1101
Gero 1101 1122
Wernher I 1122 1142
Rudolf II 1142 1171
Wernher II von Toggenburg 1173 1192
Ulrich I von Rapperswil 1192 1206
Bertold von Waldsee 1206 1213
Konrad I von Thun 1213 1233
Anselm von Schwanden 1233 1266
Ulrich II von Winneden 1267 1277
Peter I von Schwanden 1277 1280
Heinrich II von Güttingen 1280 1299
Johannes I von Schwanden 1299 1327
Johannes II von Hasenburg 1327 1334
Konrad II von Gösgen 1334 1348
Heinrich III von Brandis [de] 1348 1357
Nikolaus I von Gutenburg [de] 1357 1364
Markwart VII von Grünenberg [de] 1364 1376
Peter II von Wolhusen 1376 1386
Ludwig I von Thierstein [de] 1387 1402
Hugo von Rosenegg 1402 1418
Burkard von Krenkingen-Weissenburg 1418 1438
Rudolf III von Hohensax 1438 1447
Franz von Hohenrechberg 1447 1452
Gerold von Hohensax 1452 1480
Konrad III von Hohenrechberg 1480 1526
Ludwig II Blarer (von Wartensee) 1526 1544
Joachim Eichhorn 1544 1569
Adam Heer 1569 1585
Ulrich III Wittwiler 1585 1600
Augustin I Hofmann [de] 1600 1629
Plazidus Reimann 1629 1670
Augustin II Reding 1670 1692
Raphael Gottrau 1692 1698
Maurus von Roll 1698 1714
Thomas I Schenklin 1714 1734
Nikolaus II Imfeld 1734 1773
Marian Müller [de] 1773 1780
Beat Küttel [de] 1780 1808
Konrad IV Tanner [de] 1808 1825
Cölestin Müller 1825 1846
Heinrich IV Schmid 1846 1874
Basilius Oberholzer 1875 1895
Columban Brügger 1895 1905
Thomas Bossart 1905 1923
Ignaz (Josef Thomas) Staub [de] 1923 1947
Benno (Walter) Gut 1947 1959
Raimund (Franz Julius) Tschudy [de] 1959 1969
Georg (Karl Maria) Holzherr 1969 2001
Martin (Stefan) Werlen [de] 2001 2013
Urban Federer 2013



  • 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. ^ a b c Alston, George Cyprian. "Abbey of Einsiedeln." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Potter, G. R. (1976), Zwingli, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 20-40, ISBN 0-521-20939-0
  4. ^ Schmidt, Suzanne Karr. "Printed Bodies and the Materiality of Early Modern Prints," Art in Print Vol. 1 No. 1 (May–June 2011), p. 26.
  5. ^ "The Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation Catalog 2021" (PDF).
  6. ^ The Earliest Evidence of Chess in Western Literature: The Einsiedeln Verses, Helena M. Gamer, Speculum, Vol. 29, No. 4 (October 1954), pp. 734-750
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Das Einsiedlerhaus in Rapperswil wechselt den Besitzer" (in German). Kapuzinerkloster Rapperswil, published by Markus Turnherr, Stadtarchivar, in Obersee Nachrichten. Retrieved 2015-09-12.

 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.

External links[edit]