Medingen Abbey

Coordinates: 53°05′26″N 10°33′55″E / 53.090601°N 10.565176°E / 53.090601; 10.565176
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Medingen Convent
Medingen Convent St. Maurice
Medingen Convent is located in Germany
Medingen Convent
Medingen Convent
Location of Convent Medingen in Lower Saxony, Germany
53°05′26″N 10°33′55″E / 53.090601°N 10.565176°E / 53.090601; 10.565176
LocationMedingen, Lower Saxony
DenominationProtestant Lutheran
Previous denominationCatholic
Functional statusActive

Medingen Abbey or Medingen Convent (German: Kloster Medingen) is a former Cistercian nunnery. Today it is a residence for women of the Protestant Lutheran faith (German: Damenstift) near the Lower Saxon town of Bad Bevensen and is supervised by the Monastic Chamber of Hanover (Klosterkammer Hannover). The current director of the abbey (Äbtissin) is the art historian Dr Kristin Püttmann.[1]


first panel of a cycle of 15 painted wooden boards
Lay brother Johann receiving the divine order to build a new convent, reproduced by Johann Ludolf Lyssmann, 1772 (original art work produced in 1499)
Interior of the convent church in early neoclassical style

A founding legend ascribes the convent's origins to a lay brother called Johannes; the convent's history from its founding to the election of abbess Margaretha Puffen was formerly depicted in a cycle of 15 painted wooden boards, that were destroyed in the fire of 1781; the only surviving copy is the affix in Johann Ludolf Lyßman's Historische Nachrichten (1772).[2] The legend has it that Johannes claimed divine guidance in his quest to build the new convent. The community was founded 1228 in Restorf am Höhbeck by Johannes and four nuns who joined him in Magdeburg, but the group did not stay there. For unknown reasons, they moved on to Plate near Lüchow and later Bohndorf, before they eventually settled in Altenmedingen, where the first buildings were consecrated on 24 August 1241.[3]

The military road passing through the convent yard presented an ever-present danger of attacks or arson, so the convent decided to move one last time, to the village of Zellensen, today's Medingen. The new church was consecrated on 24 August 1336.[4]

1479 saw the advent of the convent reforms under the influence of the devotio moderna. Many convents at that time did not follow the Cistercian rule very strictly; nuns were allowed to keep their belongings and keep in touch with their relatives once they joined the convent. The Cistercian order was re-established and the prioress Margarete Puffen was made an abbess in 1494.[5] After the reforms, a scriptorium became one of the focal points of the convent and to this day a large number of manuscripts found worldwide can be attributed to the sixteenth-century nuns of Medingen. Hymns (Leisen) noted down in these texts are still part of both Catholic and Protestant hymnbooks today, e.g. in the current German Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch EG 23 "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ", EG 100 "Wir wollen alle fröhlich sein" and EG 214 "Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeiet", even though they were wrongly dated to the 14th century by the music historian Walther Lipphardt.[6]

fourteenth panel of a cycle of 15 painted wooden boards
Panel depicting some of the changes in Medingen after the 1479 convent reforms – joint meals where the youngest nun read from the manuscripts, reproduced by Johann Ludolf Lyssmann, 1772 (original art work produced in 1499)

The Reformation attempted to be introduced in Medingen in 1524, was met with resistance from the nuns. They hid their confessor in the attic, publicly burned the Lutheran bible and almost faced the dissolution of the convent. In 1541, the Uelzen Landtag decided to ensure the economic security of Medingen and the five other convents nearby. This was in the nobility's interests, because their unmarried daughters could benefit from the livelihood and education befitting their status. In 1542, all of the convent's goods and earnings were confiscated and contact between the nuns and their family was prohibited. The abbess, Margareta von Stöterogge, did not give in to the demands of bringing all remaining property to Celle, but rather went to Hildesheim for two years, taking the convent's archive and valuables with her. It took her brother, Nikolaus von Stöterogge, to convince her finally to accept the communion under both forms.[7] Eventually, in 1554, the convent became Protestant and from then on, the Klosterordnung (convent order) was defined by the Landesherr or territorial lord.[8]

After the Reformation had been introduced, life changed drastically: The incumbents were now allowed to marry, but had to leave the convent when they did so. In 1605, they replaced the traditional Cistercian habit with an attire in accordance with the convent order introduced by Duke William in 1574. The Thirty Years' War left its mark on the convent and its surrounding area. A new convent order was introduced by Kurfürst (elector) George Louis in 1706.[9]

Most of the convent buildings were destroyed in a fire in January 1781, although valuable possessions like the archives and the abbesses' crosier from 1494 were able to be salvaged. The ruins were demolished in 1782 and the convent re-built in the early neoclassic style. Completed in 1788, the new buildings were consecrated on 24 August.[10]

List of heads of convent[edit]

List of provosts
Name From Until
Helmerich 1236? 1240
Nikolaus I 1241 1249
Johannes 1261 1261
Nikolaus II 1261 1286
Hartwig von der Sülze 1286 1306
Christian 1306 resigned 1326
Ludolf von Lüneburg 1326 1355
Dietrich Bromes 1355 1358
Dietrich von Langlingen 1359 1370
Johannes Ostermann 1370 1380
Dietrich Brand (von Melle?) 1380 1396
Johannes Meyer 1396 1416
Lüdiger Tolner 1416 resigned 1446
Ludolf Lützken 1446 1464
Dr iur utr Johannes Mahler 1464 1467
Tilemann von Bavenstedt 1467 1494
Ulrich von Bülow 1494 1516
Johann von Mahrenholtz 1516 1516
Bruno von Alten 1516 1518
Johann von Mahrenholtz 1518 1529
List of prioresses
Name From Until
Imma I 1263 1284
Imma II 1284 1315
Imma (Irmgard) III 1315 1323
Imma IV Ruffen 1323 1332
Wigburg 1327 1327
Mechthild I von Meding 1333 1343
Elisabeth I von Bernowe 1344 1366
Alburg von dem Sande 1368 1371
Elisabeth II 1376 1379
Elisabeth III 1379 1399
Druda von Dageförde 1399 1428
Mechthild II Semmelbecker 1428 1435
Caecilia von dem Berge 1435 1445
Elisabeth IV Langendorf 1445 1464
Mechthild III von Römstedt 1464 1479
Margaretha I Puffen 1479 1494, later abbess
List of abbesses
Name From Until Denomination
Margaretha I Puffen 1494, former prioress 1513 Catholic
Elisabeth I von Elvern 1513 1524 Catholic
Margaretha II Stöterogge 1524 1567 Catholic
Getrud I von Töbing 1567 1588 Protestant Lutheran
Elisabeth II von Töbing 1588 1630 Protestant Lutheran
Anna I von Sarstedt 1630 1635 Protestant Lutheran
Margaretha III von Dassel 1636 1667 Protestant Lutheran
Margaretha IV von Dassel 1667 1680 Protestant Lutheran
Catharina Prigge 1681 1706 Protestant Lutheran
Clara Anna von Lüneburg 1707 1719 Protestant Lutheran
Anna von Laffert 1720 1721 Protestant Lutheran
Elisabeth Catharina von Stöterogge 1722 1741 Protestant Lutheran
Sophia Catharina von Meiseburg 1741 1750 Protestant Lutheran
Sibylla Hedewig von Laffert 1751 1755 Protestant Lutheran
Margaretha Elisabeth von Braunschweig 1755 1793 Protestant Lutheran
Luise Charlotta von Heimburg 1793 1797 Protestant Lutheran
Sophie Eleonore von Töbing 1798 1810 Protestant Lutheran
Rahel Charlotte von Töbing 1810 1814 Protestant Lutheran
Luise Amalie von Wallmoden 1814 1825 Protestant Lutheran
Auguste von Töbingen 1826 1849 Protestant Lutheran
Ottilie von Brömbsen 1850 1906 Protestant Lutheran
Auguste von Schmidt-Phiseldeck 1907 1917 Protestant Lutheran
Emma von Laffert 1917 1930 Protestant Lutheran
Luise von Brömbsen 1931 1943 Protestant Lutheran
Ilse von Döring 1944 1972 Protestant Lutheran
Helge von Bülow 1972 1989 Protestant Lutheran
Gisela Rothbarth 1989 1999 Protestant Lutheran
Monika von Kleist 1999 2012 Protestant Lutheran
Dr. Kristin Püttmann since 2012 Protestant Lutheran


Cultural heritage[edit]

A large number of medieval manuscripts were produced in Medingen, 44 of which have survived and are conserved all over the world. The nuns enhanced the liturgy written in Latin with Low German prayers and songs, producing unique compilations of illuminated texts that were important to them as well as the noblewomen in the surrounding areas.[12]

Furthermore, the brewery (German: Brauhaus), built in 1397, survived the fire of 1781 and can still be seen today. It attests to the fact that the convent was originally built in the Brick Gothic style.[13]


  1. ^ "Klosterkammer: Neue Äbtissin im Kloster Medingen: Dr. Kristin Püttmann".
  2. ^ Lyßmann, Johann Ludolf, gewesenen Predigers zu Closter Meding, und nachherigen Superintendenten zu Fallersleben: Nachricht von dem Ursprunge, Anwachs und Schicksalen des im Lüneburgischen Herzogthum belegenen Closters Meding, dessen Pröbsten, Priorinnen und Abbatißinnen, auch fürnehmsten Gebräuchen und Lutherischen Predigern &c. nebst darzu gehörigen Urkunden und Anmerkungen bis auf das Jahr 1769 fortgesetzt. Mit Kupfern. Halle, 1772.
  3. ^ Vogtherr, Thomas: Medingen. In: Dolle, Josef (ed.): Niedersächsisches Klosterbuch. Vol. 3, Bielefeld 2012, p. 1044.
  4. ^ Der Umzug in das heutige Medingen / Moving to today's Medingen at Retrieved 4 June 2013
  5. ^ [1] at Retrieved on 5 June 2013
  6. ^ Achten, Gerard (1987). De Gebedenboeken van de Cistercienserinnenkloosters Medingen en Wienhausen in: Miscellanea Neerlandica 3 (= FS Jan Deschamps), pp. 173–188.
  7. ^ Letter by Nikolaus Stöteroggen to his sister Margarete Stöteroggen written June 1554, published in the collection of charters and letters of Medingen Abbey by Homeyer (2006) No. 705
  8. ^ Die Reformation / The Reformation at Retrieved on 5 June 2013
  9. ^ Das Leben nach der Evangelisierung / Life after the Reformation at Retrieved on 5 June 2013
  10. ^ Der Brand 1781 und der Wiederaufbau / The fire of 1781 and Reconstruction at Retrieved on 5 June 2013
  11. ^ Vogtherr, Thomas: Medingen. In: Dolle, Josef (ed.): Niedersächsisches Klosterbuch. Vol. 3, Bielefeld 2012, p. 1049.
  12. ^ Medingen Manuscripts, a project to digitise the manuscripts produced in Medingen. Retrieved on 2 July 2016
  13. ^ Historisches Brauhaus und ehemaliges Knechtshaus / Historic Brewery and Former Servants' House at Retrieved on 4 June 2013

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]