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Marienberg is world's highest abbey at 4,400 feet

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 5th, 2011
Catholic Online (

Marienberg Abbey, also known as Abbazia Monte Maria and Kloster Marienberg is a Benedictine abbey in Italy in the South Tyrol region. Founded in 1150, the abbey has a long tradition of education. Marienberg is Europe's highest abbey at 4,400 ft and was built in the Baroque style with some Romanesque elements, and has some well-preserved frescoes.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The history of Marienberg Abbey goes back to Charlemagne, who established in 780-86 a Benedictine monastery near Taufers in Graubünden.

After this was dissolved in 880, the monastery was replaced by a convent for both sexes. Two hundred years later Eberhard of Tarasp built the monastery of Schuls in the Engadine for the monks. The nuns remained at Taufers, which was later called Münster.

Schuls was destroyed by lightning and then rebuilt and consecrated in 1131. Ulrich IV of Tarasp called upon the monks from Ottobeuern to Schuls to instill new life into the monastery.

At the same time the monastery was made an abbey. In 1146 he removed the community to St. Stephen in Vintschgau, and in 1150 to the hill near the village of Burgeis, where the abbey has since continued under the name of Marienberg. Ulrich himself later assumed the habit of the order and died in 1177.

Under Abbot Konrad III, Marienberg was pillaged by two nobles, and in 1304 Abbot Hermann was killed by Ulrich of Matsch. In 1348 the plague carried away every inhabitant of the monastery with the exception of Abbot Wyho, a priest, one lay brother, and Goswin who later became a chronicler. Goswin became a priest in 1349, and compiled new choir-books, two estate registers, and the chronicle of the monastery, which was finished in 1374.

Under Abbot Nicholas, Goswin became prior, while in 1374 he was appointed court chaplain to Duke Leopold III of Austria.

In 1418 Marienberg, was burned to the ground for the first time. After a period of decline in the 16th century, Abbot Mathias Lang, from Weingarten monastery, became the reformer of the abbey. In 1634 Marienberg joined the Benedictine Congregation of Swabia. Lang's successor, Jacob Grafinger, refurbished the library, and made the younger members finish their education at schools of repute.

In 1656 the abbey was burned down for the second time. Abbot Johann Baptist Murr founded in 1724 the gymnasium at Meran, still administered by the monks of Marienberg. Abbot Pacidus Zobel compiled a chronicle of the abbots. In 1807 Marienberg was dissolved by the Bavarian government, but was again restored by Emperor Francis II in 1816.

Today, seven fathers and four brothers live in Marienberg abbey under the Benedictine Rule. The abbey is open to visitors and hosts weekend courses and retreats.

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