For the town in Bavaria, see Hohenburg, Bavaria.

Hohenburg Abbey was a nunnery, situated on the Odilienberg, the most famous of the Vosges mountains in Alsace.[1], which is better known today as Mont Sainte-Odile.


It was founded about 690 by Saint Ottilia, who also was its first abbess.[2] On the eastern slope of the Odilienberg she built a hospice called Niedermünster or Nieder-Hohenburg, which afterwards became a house for ladies of nobility and was destroyed by lightning in 1572.

Originally Hohenburg seems to have been occupied by Benedictine nuns who were replaced by canonesses in the 11th century. In the first half of the 12th century it began to decline, but its discipline was restored by Abbess Relindis of Bergen near Neuburg on the Danube, who became abbess of Hohenburg in about 1140. During her rule Hohenburg became famous for its strict discipline as well as the great learning of its nuns.

She was succeeded in 1167 by Herrade of Landsberg, under whose rule the fame of Hohenburg continued to increase. She built the Premonstratensian monastery of Saint Gorgo on the slope of the mountain in 1178, and the Augustinian monastery of Truttenhausen at its foot. Herrade was the author of Hortus deliciarum, a collection of short treatises on theology, astronomy, philosophy, and other branches of learning, also containing some original Latin poems with musical accompaniment, and some beautiful drawings. (The work was destroyed at the conflagration of the Strasbourg library in 1870).[3] One noteworthy tradition of the abbey is the production of unicorn images; illustrations of unicorn hunts were particular to female orders.[4]

Hohenburg Abbey perished by fire in 1546. Some of the nuns returned to their parents, others became Protestants and married.

In 1661, Hohenburg was rebuilt and occupied by Premonstratensians. During the French Revolution it was confiscated by the government and sold as national property in 1791. Andreas Räss, Bishop of Strasbourg, purchased the buildings in 1853 for his diocese.

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

Coordinates: 49°18′N 11°48′E / 49.3°N 11.8°E / 49.3; 11.8


  1. "Hohenburg". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. Hummer, Hans J. (2005). Power and Politics in Early Medieval Europe, pp. 52-54. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521854415.
  3. Bowers, Jane (1987). Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950, p. 19. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252014707.
  4. Einhorn, Jürgen Werinhard (1971). "Ein jüngst aufgefundenes Fragment der Soester Lesepult-Decke im Victoria and Albert Museum London". Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 34 (1): 47–58.  p. 55.

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