November 8, 2016

2858 GERMANY (Bavaria) - Münsterschwarzach Abbey

Münsterschwarzach Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located near Kitzingen, at the confluence of the rivers Schwarzach and Main in Bavaria. Dedicated to the Holy Saviour, the Virgin Mary and Saint Felicity, it was founded before 788 as a nunnery. It was a private foundation of the Carolingian ruling house: the abbesses were daughters of the imperial family, for example Theodrada (d. 853), a daughter of Charlemagne. After the death of the last Carolingian abbess, Bertha, in 877, the nuns left the abbey and it was taken over by Benedictines from Megingaudshausen.

Münsterschwarzach became a centre of monastic reform during the 12th century, when Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg appointed Egbert of Gorze as abbot. Egbert not only reformed and renewed the spiritual life of abbey but then exerted an influence far beyond it. In the 18th century a Baroque basilica was commissioned from Balthasar Neumann, with frescoes in the cupolas by Holzer. In 1803 the abbey was dissolved in the course of the secularisation of Bavaria. Between 1821 and 1827 the remains of the church were entirely demolished, and those of the monastic buildings largely demolished.

In 1913 the remains of the old abbey were re-acquired by the St. Ottilien Congregation of the Benedictines, along with the necessary land to support it. The monumental church with its four towers was built by the architect Albert Bosslet.between 1935 and 1938. Between 1941 and 1945 the abbey was confiscated by the National Socialists and used as a military hospital. Although the monastic community had been expelled, some monks were able to remain as workers in the hospital. It was remodeled in 1987, its shiny white interior and smooth tile floors strikingly different from most German churches.

In contrast to some monastic orders, the Benedictines are thoroughly engaged with the world. The 140 monks who live in Münsterschwarzach do file into the church five times each day for prayers. They also run a trade school, language school, meat market, book publisher, museum, and gold- and silversmith shops. Sixty monks from Münsterschwarzach work in St. Ollilien’s missions in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela and Colombia. The abbey has two dependent monasteries: Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, Nebraska (USA); established in 1935; Damme Priory (Germany) in 1962.

About the stamps
The first stamp belong to the set Blumen, about which I wrote here.

The stamp, designed by Heribert Birnbach, was issued on August 4, 2016 to mark 1200 Years of Münsterschwarzach Abbey.

Münsterschwarzach Abbey - Wikipedia
Münsterschwarzach: Benedictine monks are anything but isolated - Stars and Stripes

Sender: Friedhelm
Sent from Bad Nauheim (Hesse / Germany), on 28.10.2016
Photo: Br. Frowin Ruckert

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