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All Saints Abbey, Lund

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All Saints Abbey was one of Denmark's earliest religious houses located in Lund, Scania, at the time part of Denmark, now southern Sweden.


There is disagreement between scholars as to how long the Benedictines had a monastery at Lund. There was a monastic house in Lund perhaps as early as 1072 founded by Ricwald, Bishop of Lund (1072-1089) during the reign of King Swein Estridsen who imported German monks from Brauweiler Abbey near Cologne. Bishop Ricwalf is named as the founder of the abbey church sometime after 1072 in the 'Lund Necrologium'. It may be that the church was constructed on one of the properties given to Lund diocese by King Canute II in the first year of his reign. The small community of mostly German Benedictine monks at Lund apparently flourished because Abbot Hartwig from St. Pantaleon's Abbey in Cologne, Germany was named as the first abbot of the Benedictine house at Lund in 1123.

An important historic source for All Saints is the 'Necrologium Lundensis', essentially an obituary book kept by monks at All Saints. The data is used by some scholars to indicate the earliest date for the founding of All Saints.

All Saints Abbey was constructed just outside the wall of Lund about 1138, the year Bishop Eskil was elevated to Archbishop of Lund by Pope Innocent II. The abbey was consecrated to Our Lady and All Saints, but quickly became known simply as, 'All Saints Abbey'.

The complex consisted of a three range set of buildings connected to the abbey church. Monks slept in the dormitory and ate in the refectory with large cellars located beneath. One wing was for the use of the lay brothers who did much of the work of the abbey. Another range contained the abbey's library and scriptorium, though not a single manuscript from all Saints has survived.

One of the most significant events to take place at All Saints was a general chapter with representatives from all of Denmark's Benedictine houses convened by Archbishop Sunesen to discuss the decline of obedience to the 'rule of St. Benedict'. The abbot of All Saints was chosen to be the 'Father abbot of the order in Denmark and a general chapter meeting called every third year. All saints became the preeminent Benedictine house in Denmark during the Middle Ages. It enjoyed royal and noble patronage, though it often changed sides in the conflicts between kings and church during the tumultuous 1200's.

All Saints grew in wealth from centuries of donations of income-producing properties for burial within the confines of the abbey church, services for recently departed family members, from wills, and cash donations for building or specific abbey projects.

By the 1520s things began to change. Lutheran preachers were encouraging Danes to reject their long tradition of Catholic beliefs, customs, and institutions. Lund was the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Denmark, and became a pawn in the struggle between Lutherans and Catholics. Christian II, the last Catholic king of Denmark was deposed and replaced by Frederik I. In 1525 the peasants in Skaane rebelled in an effort to restor Christian II to the throne. The peasants were crushed by Frederik's army at Lund. Many of the rebels fled into the cathedral for sanctuary, but the general ordered the leaders dragged from the cathedral and executed on the spot.

Upon Frederik's death the succession was contested and the result was a civil war between Catholics and Lutherans known as the Counts' Feud (Danish: Grevens Fejde). Once again Scania rose for the Catholic side, but were defeated. Christian III, a staunch Lutheran, became the undisputed king of Denmark in 1535. The next year Christian and the State Council (Danish: rigsraad) voted to accept the Lutheran Ordinances, thereby, making Denmark a Lutheran state. All religious houses and their income properties fell to the crown. Christian apparently wanted to make an example of Lund, so he systematically closed the monasteries and superfluous churches by 1600, most of them had been torn down or put to other uses. Building materials from the demolition was used for construction of other structures throughout Skaane. All Saints Abbey was demolished and most of its archive destroyed by looters from the town.

There are no remnants of Lund's oldest monastic house.


[1] 'Alhelgens Kloster i Lund'.

'Necrologium Lundensis'

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