Weingarten (MONASTERIUM VINEARUM, AD VINEAS, or WEINGARTENSE), a suppressed Benedictine abbey, near Ravensburg, Wurtemberg, originally founded as a nunnery at Altdorf shortly after 900 by Henry Guelph. Later the nuns were replaced by canons, but again returned in 1036. Guelph III exchanged the nuns for the Benedictine monks of Altomunster in 1047. The monastery being destroyed by fire in 1053, Guelph III ceded his castle on the neighboring hill to the monks, and thenceforth the monastery became known as Weingarten. It was so liberally endowed that, though it was six times totally, and twice partially, destroyed by fire, it was always rebuilt, and remained the richest and most influential of the Swabian monasteries. Its discipline never seriously declined, except during the latter part of the fifteenth, and the early part of the sixteenth, century, owing chiefly to the encroachments of a few commendatory abbots and the oppression of the bailiffs. Immediately before its suppression in 1802 it comprised forty-eight monks, ten of whom resided at the dependent priory of Hofen. Its territory extended over six German square miles, with about 11,000 inhabitants. At present the monastery serves as barracks for a regiment of infantry, and the abbey church as the parish church of the town of Weingarten. The church, rebuilt in 1715-24 in the Italian-German baroque style according to the plans of Franz Beer, is the second largest in Wurtemberg.
The greatest treasure of Weingarten was its famous relic of the Precious Blood, still preserved in the church of Weingarten. Its legend runs thus: Longinus, the soldier who opened the Savior’s side with a lance, caught some of the Sacred Blood and preserved it in a leaden box, which later he buried at Mantua. Being miraculously discovered in 804, the relic was solemnly exalted by Leo III, but again buried during the Hungarian and Norman invasions. In 1048 it was rediscovered and solemnly exalted by Pope Leo IX in the presence of the emperor, Henry III, and many other dignitaries. It was divided into three parts, one of which the pope took to Rome, the other was given to the emperor, Henry III, and the third remained at Mantua. Henry III bequeathed his share of the relic to Count Baldwin V of Flanders, who gave it to his daughter Juditha. After her marriage to Guelph IV of Bavaria, Juditha presented the relic to Weingarten. The solemn presentation took place in 1090, on the Friday after the feast of the Ascension, and it was stipulated that annually on the same day, which came to be known as Blutfreitag, the relic should be carried in solemn procession. The procession was prohibited in 1812, but since 1849 it again takes place every year. It is popularly known as the Blutritt. The relic is carried by a rider, der heilige Blutritter, on horseback, followed by many other riders, and many thousand people on foot. The reliquary, formerly of solid gold, set with numerous jewels, and valued at about 70,000 florins, was confiscated by the Government at the suppression of the monastery and replaced by a gilded copper imitation.
Of the abbots the following are deserving of notice: Conrad II von Ibach (1315-36), author of an “Ordo Divini Officii” (ed. Hess, loc. cit. infra), important for the history of liturgy (his Life, written in the fourteenth century, was edited by Giesel in the supplement to “Wurttembergische Vierteljahresschrift”, XIII, Stuttgart, 1890, 39-44); Gerwig Blazer (1520-67), leader of the Catholic party of Upper Swabia during the Reformation; Georg Wegelin (1587-1627), during whose abbacy Weingarten enjoyed its greatest religious prosperity; Sebastian Hyller (1697-1730), who rebuilt the church and monastery; Placidus Benz (1738-45), Dominieus Sehinzer (1745-84), and Anselm Rittler (1784-1804), all three men of learning, who promoted the literary activity of their monks. Monks famous for their literary productions are: Gabriel Bucelin (d. 1681); Anselm Schnell (d. 1751), author of theological and ascetical works; Gerard Hess (d. 1802), historian; Meingosus Gaelle (d. 1816), writer on mathematics and physics; Leonard Ruff (d. 1828), author of numerous sermons.