The abbey was founded in 1180 with the support of Otto I, Margrave of Brandenburg as a daughter house of Sittichenbach Abbey. In its turn it founded four daughter houses: the abbeys of Paradiz (1236), Mariensee (1258), Chorin (1260) and Himmelpfort (1299).
It was an important contributor to the land development of the Margraviate of Brandenburg. It was dissolved in 1542 during the Reformation.
Since 1911 it has housed the Protestant religious community known as the Luise-Henrietten-Stift.
The Vaticinium Lehninense was a work, famous in its day, which purported to be the creation of a monk of Lehnin called Hermann, supposedly written in the 13th or 14th century. Manuscripts of the "prophecy", which was first printed in 1722, existed in Berlin, Dresden, Breslau and Göttingen.
It begins by lamenting the end of the Ascanian line of the Margraves of Brandenburg, with the death of Henry the Younger in 1320, and gives a faithful portrait of several of the margraves, until it comes to deal with Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg (d. 1688). Here the writer leaves the region of safety and ceases to make any realistic portrait of the people about whom he is prophesying. The work ends with a Catholic ruler who re-establishes Lehnin as a monastery and is also made to restore the union of the Holy Roman Empire.
The work is anti-Prussian, but the real author cannot be discovered. The first to unmask the fraud was Pastor Weiss, who proved in his "Vaticinium Germanicum" (Berlin, 1746) that the pseudo-prophecy was really written between 1688 and 1700. Even after the detection of its true character, attempts were made to use it in anti-Prussian polemics.
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- (German) Lehnin Abbey church
- "Abbey of Lehnin". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Abbey_of_Lehnin.