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A former Cistercian Abbey in the valley of the Vils in Lower Bavaria. It was founded in 1127 by St. Otto, Bishop of Bamberg, and the first community was composed of canons regular. The site chosen was near a church consecrated in 880 by Englmar, Bishop of Passau, in honour of St. Peter. In 1146 Egilbert, the successor of Otto, gave the foundation and a new church of Our Lady to the Cistercians, and after the departure of the canons, Abbot Sefried, with monks from Ebrach, took possession. Under Cistercian rule Aldersbach flourished for more than six centuries. It was famous for the rigour of its religious discipline and exerted a wide influence. From its cloisters came the first communities established at Fürstenfeld (1263), Fürstenzell (1274), and Gotteszell (1285). The monks cultivated the soil and devoted themselves to the works of the ministry in their own and in the neighbouring churches dependent upon the abbey. Nor was the pursuit of learning neglected. The first abbot, Sefried, formed the nucleus of the library to which valuable additions were made by his successors. Abbots and monks carried on their studies not only in the cloister, but also at the great universities of Paris, Vienna, Padua, Heidelberg, and Ingolstadt. Aldersbach suffered from time to time from the ravages of war. During the Thirty Years War which followed the Reformation, it was pillaged and almost entirely abandoned. The library, however, escaped destruction, and under the abbots Matthew and Gebhard Horger the old régime was restored. Abbot Theobald II repaired the injuries sustained during the wars of the Spanish and Austrian Successions. When the Abbey was suppressed, 1 April, 1803, the monks numbered forty. The buildings were sold, and the Abbey church was converted into a parish church, while the monks engaged in parish work or teaching. The library became a part of the National Library at Munich. Aldersbach was fortunate in the abbots who were chosen to rule its destinies. They maintained monastic discipline, furthered the interests of the abbey, and encouraged the pursuit of learning. Among the more prominent, besides those already mentioned, were Dietrich I (1239-53, 1258-77); Conrad (1308-36); John II, John III, and Wolfgang Marius. The last-named is perhaps the best known. He had studied at Heidelberg, and was the author of several works, While Theobald II was abbot, one of his monks, P. Balduin Wurzer, taught at Ingolstadt. Father Stephan Wiest also became known later as a theologian. He taught at Ingolstadt, was rector of the University (1787-88), and six years later returned to Aldersbach, where he died in 1797.
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