|Imperial Abbey of Waldsassen|
|Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
|-||Secularised to Bavaria||1803|
Waldsassen Abbey is a Cistercian nunnery, formerly a Cistercian monastery, located on the River Wondreb at Waldsassen near Tirschenreuth, Oberpfalz in Bavaria, Germany, close to the border with the Czech Republic.
The monastery, the first Cistercian foundation in Bavaria, was founded by Gerwich of Wolmundstein, a Benedictine monk of Sigeberg Abbey, with the permission of his former abbot Kuno, then Bishop of Regensburg, and built between 1128 and 1132. The original community was sent to Waldsassen from Volkenroda Abbey in Thuringia, of the line of Morimond Abbey. The first abbot was elected in 1133.
Soon the abbey became one of the most renowned and powerful of the times. As the number of monks increased, several important foundations were made at Sedlitz and Ossegg in Bohemia, at Walderbach, near Regensburg, and in other places. In 1147, Conrad III, King of Germany, granted it reichsunmittelbar status, making it an Imperial abbey. Several of its thirty-seven abbots up to the Reformation were illustrious for sanctity and learning; of them, Herman, the seventh abbot, and John, the seventeenth, as well as Gerwich, its founder, and Wigand, the first prior, are commemorated in the menology.
From the middle of the fourteenth century, Waldsassen alternated between periods of prosperity and decadence. Wars, famines, excessive taxation, and persecution by the Hussites made it suffer much. During the Bavarian War (1504) the monastery, church and farm-buildings were burned, but immediately afterwards rebuilt, and the new church was consecrated in 1517.
In 1525, during the Peasants' War, part of the buildings were again destroyed, and were beautifully restored by Georg III (1531–37), the last of the first series of abbots.
From 1537 to 1560 in the course of the Reformation administrators were appointed by the civil authorities: Frederick III, Elector Palatine, named his brother Richard for this office. The monks were then forced to apostatize or flee, or were put to death. For about a hundred years it remained in this condition, during which time it was almost totally burned down in the Thirty Years' War.
After the Peace of Westphalia Roman Catholicism was restored in Bavaria. In 1669, Waldsassen was restored to the Cistercians, and in 1690 Albrecht, first of the second series of abbots (who were six in number), was elected. The buildings were sumptuously rebuilt, and the number of religious again became considerable. The abbey became well-known for its hospitality, particularly during the famines of 1702–03 and 1772–73, and during the French Revolution. Under Abbot Athanasius (1793–1803) science and learning were highly cultivated.
In 1863, the remains of the old abbey were bought by the Cistercian nuns of Seligenthal, who in the following year took possession, established monastic enclosure, and opened an institute for the education of girls. At first a priory, the nunnery was raised to the status of an abbey in 1925.
The church was declared a basilica minor in 1969.
The spectacular Baroque library is particularly noteworthy. Part of the former monastic premises now accommodates an International Ceramics Museum.
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- (German) Official website
- This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.