St. Mang's Abbey, Füssen

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Aerial image of St. Mang's Abbey

St. Mang's Abbey, Füssen or Füssen Abbey (German: Kloster Sankt Mang Füssen) was a Benedictine monastery in Füssen in Bavaria, Germany. It was founded in the 9th century, and dissolved during the post-Napoleonic secularisation of Bavaria.


Former St Mang Abbey Main Entrance

The Benedictine abbey of Saint Mang was founded in the first half of the 9th century as a proprietary monastery of the Prince-Bishops of Augsburg. The reason for its foundation goes back to the hermit Magnus of Füssen (otherwise known as Saint Mang) and his Benedictine brother Theodor, both from the Abbey of Saint Gall,[1] who built a cell and an oratory here, where he died on 6 September, although there is no record of which year.

The saint's body, amid miracles, was discovered uncorrupted, a proof of his sanctity, and the veneration of St. Mang was the spiritual basis of the monastery.

The foundation was not however solely spiritually motivated; there were practical political reasons underlying it as well. The monastery's key position not only on the important medieval road from Augsburg across the Alps to Upper Italy but also in the Füssen Gap ("Füssener Enge", the point where the river Lech breaks out of the Alps) gave it an immense strategic value, which made it of political concern both to the Bishops of Augsburg and to the Holy Roman Emperors.

Inner courtyard of the former Abbey

The history of the abbey in the Middle Ages is principally marked by the efforts of the religious community to maintain a life true to the Rule of Saint Benedict amidst the various pressures caused by external social developments. Over time therefore the monks repeatedly embraced various reforms and reforming movements intended to bring about a return to the essentials of the Benedictine life. These reforms mostly resulted in spiritual and economic growth and an increase in the headcount, which in turn brought more building and commissions of artwork.

The energy of the Counter-Reformation found lasting expression in the construction of an enormous Baroque abbey complex between 1696 and 1726, commissioned by Abbot Gerhard Oberleitner (1696-1714), which still today, along with the High Castle (Hohe Schloss), characterises the town of Füssen.

The architect Johann Jakob Herkomer (1652-1717) succeeded in turning the irregular medieval abbey premises into a symmetrically organised complex of buildings. The transformation of the medieval basilica into a Baroque church based on Venetian models was intended to be an architectural symbol of the veneration of Saint Magnus. The entire church represents an enormous reliquary. For the first time in South German Baroque construction the legend of the local saint inspires the suite of frescoes throughout the entire church. The community at the time also set out to make the new church the envy of connoisseurs for the quality of its artworks. Among the artists who contributed various forms of decoration for the building were Anton Sturm, Franz Georg Hermann,[2] Jakob Hiebeler and Paul Zeiller, whose only extant oil paintings are in the Chapter Hall.

Although the abbey was never able to obtain the coveted Reichsunmittelbarkeit (independence of all lordship except for that of the Emperor), it had a decisive influence as a centre of lordship and economy, cultural and faith life, on Füssen and the whole region.

Fresco above main entrance of former St Mang Abbey
St Mang Basilica and Former St Mang Abbey


On 11 December 1802, during the secularisation that followed the Napoleonic Wars and the Peace of Lunéville, the princes of Oettingen-Wallerstein were awarded possession of St. Mang. On 15 January 1803 Princess Wilhelmine ordered Abbot Aemilian Hafner to dissolve the abbey and vacate the premises by 1 March of that year.

The contents of the library were shipped off to the new owners down the Lech on rafts. Most of the items are now in the library of the University of Augsburg, except for a small collection of especially valuable manuscripts, which are in the Augsburg Diocesan Archives.

Later history[edit]

St Mang Basilica, Parish Church, next to the former St Mang Abbey

In 1837 the former abbey church was transferred as a gift to the parish of Füssen. In 1839 the Royal Bavarian chamberlain, Christoph Friedrich von Ponickau, bought the remaining lordship of St. Mang. In 1909 the town of Füssen acquired the Ponickau estate, including the former abbey buildings (apart from the church).

The north wing was used as the town hall. In the south wing the Füssen Town Museum is now located, with displays on the history of the abbey and of the town, particularly of the traditional manufacture of lutes and violins in Füssen.[3] It is also possible to view the Baroque reception rooms of the abbey in the museum.

List of the abbots of St. Mang's Abbey, Füssen[edit]

Until 919 there is no documentary evidence of the abbots of this abbey. Abbey tradition names Saint

Magnus as the founding abbot, and his successor as Blessed Conrad.

List of Abbots in the Crypt of St Mang Basilica where they are buried
List of Abbots in the Crypt of St Mang Basilica where they are buried
Burial place of Abbots in the Crypt of St Mang Basilica
Burial place of Abbots in the Crypt of St Mang Basilica
Abbot Period of authority Date of death
1. Saint Magnus   6 September
2. Konrad I    
3. Wolpoto 9th century ? 26 April
4. Bernold 9th century ?  
5. Leutolph 9th century ?  
6. Gisilo occurs 919  
7. Ortolf   5 April
8. Heinrich I.    
9. Gotebold    
10. Berthold   23 August
11. Adalbert    
12. Wilhelm c. 1030–1040  
13. Eberhard c. 1060–1061 11 May 1091
14. Swidker    
15. Adalhalm 1086 25 August 1094
16. Alberich   23 January
17. Konrad II occurs 1160–c.1175  
18. Heinrich II occurs 1178–1191 19 February
19. Konrad III occurs 1206, 1218 14 July, c. 1218
20. Dieto (Theodo) occurs 1219, 1222 March 1225
21. Rugger occurs 1227  
22. Rudolf von Thalhofen occurs 1235, 1251 22 May
23. Albert occurs 1255 13 March 1256
24. Hermann I occurs 1257, 1262  
25. Hiltebold occurs 1263, 1283 19 October 1284
26. Konrad IV occurs 1284, 1285  
27. Hermann II occurs 1287, 1295, 1311  
28. Goswin occurs 1313, 1317 8 July, c. 1318
29. Heinrich III occurs 1319, 1335 December, c. 1336
30. Ulrich Denklinger occurs 1336, 1339 18 January 1347
31. Johannes I Hochschlitz c. 1347 11 August
32. Luiprand occurs 1374  
33. Friedrich occurs 1390 28 April
34. Johannes II Lauginger occurs 1392, 1396 21 March 1403
35. Georg I Sandauer 1397–1410 15 February 1410
36. Yban von Rotenstein 1410–1426 19 May 1439
37. Johannes III Schmerlaib 1426–1431 16 May 1431
38. Konrad V Klammer 1431–1433 13 March 1433
39. Johannes IV Fischer occurs 1436; res. 1458 30 March 1460
40. Johannes V Hess 1458–1480 1481
41. Benedikt I Furtenbach 1480–1524 March 1531
42. Joh. Baptist VI Benzinger 1524–1533 8 April 1537
43. Gregor Gerhoch 1537–1554 4 October 1554
44. Sympert Lechler 1554–1556 21 November 1560
45. Georg II Albrecht 1556–1560 2 February 1560
46. Johannes VII Kessler 1560–1567 8 June 1567
47. Hieronymus Alber 1567–1573 17 August 1573
48. Matthias Schober 1579–1604 15 August 1604
49. Heinrich IV Amman 1604–1611 30 July 1615
50. Martin Stempfle 1614–1661 26 February 1665
51. Benedikt II Bauer 1661–1696 26 July 1696
52. Gerhard I Oberleitner 1696–1714 20 March 1714
53. Dominikus Dierling 1714–1738 4 September 1738
54. Benedikt III Pautner 1738–1745 18 January 1745
55. Leopold Freiherr von Rost 1745–1750 7 November 1750
56. Gallus Zeiler 1750–1755 7 January 1755
57. Placidus Zerle 1755–1763 24 June 1770
58. Gerhard II Ott 1763–1778 1 March 1778
59. Aemilian Hafner 1778–1803 19 May 1823


  1. ^ Saint Gall (Princely Abbey) in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  2. ^ Gerhard Woeckel (1969), "Hermann, Franz Georg", Neue Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 8, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 652–653; (full text online)
  3. ^ Füssen Heritage Museum


  • Lindner, Pirmin, 1913. Monasticon Episcopatus Augustani antiqui. Bregenz.
  • Ettelt, Rudibert, 1971. Geschichte der Stadt Füssen. Füssen.
  • Leistle, David. Die Aebte des St. Magnusstiftes in Füssen, in Studien und Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Benediktinerordens und seiner Zweige, 1918-1920.
  • Riedmiller, Thomas, 2003: Das ehemalige Benediktinerkloster Sankt Mang in Füssen in Klosterland Bayerisch Schwaben (ed. W. Schiedermair). Lindenberg. ISBN 3-89870-127-1

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°34′01″N 10°41′59″E / 47.56694°N 10.69972°E / 47.56694; 10.69972