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Göttweig, Abbey of

Benedictine abbey in Lower Austria

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Göttweig (GÖTTWEIH, GOTTVICUM, GOTTVICENSE) Abbey of, a Benedictine abbey situated on a hill of the same name, not quite four miles south of Krems, in Lower Austria. It was founded as a monastery for Canons Regular by Blessed Altmann, Bishop of Passau. In 1072 the high altar of the church was dedicated, but the solemn dedication of the monastery did not take place until 1083. The charter of foundation issued September 9, 1083, is still preserved in the archives of the monastery. In 1094 the discipline of the Canons Regular at Göttweig had become so lax that Bishop Ulrich of Passau, with the permission of Pope Urban II, introduced the Rule of St. Benedict. Prior Hartmann of St. Blasien in the Schwartzwald was elected abbot. He took with him from St. Blasien a number of chosen monks, among whom were Bl. Wirnto and Bl. Berthold, who later became Abbots of Formbach and Garsten respectively. Under Hartmann (1094-1114) Göttweig became a famous abode of learning and strict monastic observance. He founded a monastic school, organized a library, and built at the foot of the hill a nunnery where Ava, the earliest German poetess (d. 1127), lived as a recluse. The nunnery, which was afterwards transferred to the top of the hill, continued to exist until 1557.

The history of Göttweig, as might be expected, had its periods of decline as well as prosperity. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it declined so rapidly that from 1556 to 1564 it had no abbot, and in 1564 not a single monk was left at the monastery. At this crisis an imperial deputation arrived at Göttweig and elected Michael Herrlich, a conventual of Melk, as abbot. The new abbot (1564-1604) restored the monastery spiritually and financially, and rebuilt it after it had been almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1580. Other famous abbots were: George Falb (1612-1631) and David Corner (1631-1648), who successfully opposed the spread of Protestantism in the district; Gottfried Bessel (q. v:, 1714-1749), who rebuilt the monastery on a grander scale after it had burn down in 1718, and inaugurated an era of great intellectual activity; and Magnus Klein (1768-1783), during whose rule Göttweig became a center of learning. The chief employment of the Benedictines of Göttweig has always consisted in parish work. Its present Abbot, Adalbert Dungel (b. 1842; abbot since September 29, 1886) is also president of the Austrian Benedictine Congregation of the Immaculate Conception. To Göttweig belong (December, 1908) 65 priests, 5 clerics, 1 novice, 4 lay brothers, 31 parishes administered by Benedictines, 3 administered by secular priests, and 7 succursal churches. It has a library of 100,000 books and 1100 manuscripts, and valuable collections of coins, engravings, antiquities, and natural history.



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