Maria Laach Abbey

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West side of the Maria Laach monastery church with paradise
Area map of the eastern Vordereifel
Overall complex of the monastery, aerial photo 2011

The Maria Laach Abbey ( Latin Abbatia Mariae Lacensis or Abbatia Mariae ad Lacum or Abbatia Lacensis ) is a monastery that belongs to the Beuron congregation of the Benedictine order .

The high medieval monastery complex is located on the southwest side of the Laacher See , four kilometers north of Mendig in the Eifel , and belongs to the local community of Glees ( Ahrweiler district ). It was built as Abbatia ad Lacum , Latin for "abbey on the lake", later also Abbatia Lacensis "the abbey belonging to the lake / Laach" between 1093 and 1216 as a foundation of Heinrich II. Von Laach and his wife Adelheid . It received its current name in 1863.

The six-tower monastery church , the Laacher Münster , is a vaulted pillar basilica with a magnificent west entrance, the so-called paradise (unique in this way north of the Alps) and the cloister from the beginning of the 13th century, restored in 1859 . It is considered to be one of the most beautiful monuments of Romanesque architecture from the Salier period in Germany. In 1926 Pope Pius XI awarded the church the honorary title of a " Basilica minor ".


middle Ages

Northern accompanying tower in the western part
Middle or main tower
North side of the abbey church in 2007
Paradise, 2007
Church interior, 2007
Crypt, 2018

The first Count Palatine near the Rhine , Heinrich II. Von Laach , who named himself “von Laach” as the first and only “von Laach” after his castle Laach on his father's inheritance on the paternal legacy, promised the church for his and his own Wife of salvation and to found a monastery on the opposite side of the lake on the southwest bank as a burial place for both of them because of their childlessness. The place was chosen wisely because of the fresh water supply through the "Beller Bach" and the good accessibility. In 1093, as promised, he and his wife Adelheid von Weimar-Orlamünde († March 28, 1100) founded the abbey with the name "Abbatia ad Lacum" opposite his castle on the south-west bank of the lake under the double patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas ( Abbey on the lake), also called "Abbey Laach". The Old High German word “lacha” (from Latin lacus, -ūs m. - lake), which has been slurred to “Laach” , has been retained as the name for the lake, the place and the monastery.

“In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. I, Heinrich, by the grace of God Count Palatine of the Rhine and Herr von Laach, for the sure pacification of the humble in spirit, we make it known to all Christ and faithful, future and present: Since I am childless, I have with the consent and cooperation of my wife Adelheid For the salvation of my soul and to achieve eternal life on my paternal inheritance, namely in Laach, a monastery was founded in honor of the Holy Mother of God Maria and St. Nicholas as a residence for those who obey the monastic rule. In the presence and under the testimony of Mr. Heilbert , the venerable Archbishop of Trier , I prepared a dowry from my own property ... "

In addition to the district “zu Laach”, along with the southern part of the lake and the associated forests, the Count Palatine gave the monastery the places Kruft including the church, Alken , Bendorf , Bell , Rieden and Willenberg. The first monks and builders came from the St. Maximin monastery near Trier . In 1093 the foundations for the crypt , nave , crossing tower , west and east works were laid - virtually the complete foundation without the paradise that was only considered and added later. After Heinrich's death on October 23, 1095 (some sources misinterpreted April 12, 1095) at Laach Castle, the walls were raised to more than three meters, the work on the east choir was as much as seven meters and on the nave the least . The countess Adelheid continued the construction work, which since March 28, 1100 after her death in Echternach before a planned Rome - Pilgrimage were initially set. At that time, the east transept without vaults with a temporary flat roof was used as a temporary place of worship for the monks.

In 1112 Heinrich's heir Palatine Siegfried von Ballenstedt († 1113) renewed the foundation ("... used to complete the church"), had construction work resumed and donated the monastery to the Affligem Abbey in the county of Brabant , to which the Laach monastery was initially considered Belonged to the priory . The fourth prior Gi (se) lbert von Affligem from Affligem Abbey led the monastery from 1127 first as prior, then as the first abbot since 1138. 40 monks came to the lake with him. The property of the monastery on the Rhine , Moselle and in the Eifel also began to grow. After the actual monastery buildings had been completed, work on the church continued: the westwork, crypt and nave were completed. In 1139, Count Gerhard II von Hochstaden, the founder's nephew, donated the northern half of the lake along with Wassenach to the monastery.

1138 Laach became an independent abbey; Gilbert died on August 6, 1152. Under his successor Abbot Fulbert (1152–1177), the crypt , nave and west choir were consecrated on August 24, 1156 by Hillin von Fallemanien , Archbishop of Trier . The towers of the west building were missing the top two floors and the roof truss, and the southern flank tower of the east building was not yet completed. Flat temporary roofs protected the unfinished parts of the building. The founders of the westwork were Johannes and Mathilde von Ebernach, immortalized in one of the church windows. Around 1177 the east choir, the flanking towers of the east dome and the west gallery were completed, which were considerably supported by funds (1170) from Countess Hedwig von Are.

Based on dendrochronological findings from 1979 about particularly low rainfall around 1164 - during the term of office of Abbot Fulbert - he was credited with having initiated the construction of an 880 m long tunnel ( Fulbert tunnel ) , which was only considered possible when the water level was low lowering the water level of the outflow-free Laacher See. Recently, the Romans have also been discussed as builders because of the remains of Roman settlements found near the monastery and because of the Roman tunnel construction.

The western building was completed under Abbots Albert (1199–1216) and Gregor (1216–1235). The Nikolauskapelle, which still exists today, was built between 1220 and 1230, and the narthex, called “Paradise”, was added to the west facade as a new plan . Together with the outside wall of the church, it forms a closed square that encloses the area, similar to an atrium . In contrast, the north and west outer walls also have column windows, only the south wall is massive, as the old prelature wing was added there until 1855 and there was a closed area that should not be viewed.

The area surrounded by paradise with no real access was used as a garden - the gardener has to climb over the low inner wall. In later centuries it was to be extended by another floor with a half-timbered front to accommodate guests according to the St. Gallen monastery plan . For this purpose, an extension was added on the south side of the paradise, which was also overstocked. So you could get from the southern upper floor of Paradise directly into the prelature building, which was attached close to the south tower. The upper floor had about twelve rooms and a corridor in the south part. The oldest known representation is a drawing by the Walloon painter Renier Roidkin from 1725. In the early 19th century (before 1830) it was removed again as a result of a newly built guest wing including the extension.

During this time (1230–1250) the vaulting of the nave with its wooden flat ceiling also fell. In the period that followed, a famous writing and painting school emerged, from which, among other things, the “Laacher Sanktuar” (valuable and comprehensive collection of prayer and chants for the Eucharistic celebration, including the alternating chants), now housed in the Darmstadt University and State Library .

After a difficult phase between 1247 and 1256 (three abbots who abdicated), the monastery underwent a number of renovations in the Gothic style under his 11th Abbot Diedrich II von Lehmen (see below), as well as a complete renewal of monastery life and economy (purchase of several goods, Courtyards, vineyards, relics), so that later Laach historians called him the "second founder of the monastery". According to the Catalogus abbatum Lacensium , he is 42 years of office and subsequent retreat into private life, according to Germania Sacra 31 - The Benedictine Abbey of Laach with 39 years (p. 101, 358). In the period that followed, the monastery experienced an intellectual boom under Abbot Kuno von Lösnich (1295–1328), Gothic roof extensions continued until around 1355, and monastery life flourished within the next 150 years.

In the time after the Council of Constance , the Benedictine reform movements were increasingly implemented. The Archbishop of Trier Johann II von Baden promoted the connection of the Benedictine monasteries to the reform movement of the order ( Bursfeld Congregation ) and in 1469 sent the prior Johann Fart von Deidesheim from the Trier imperial abbey of St. Maximin (~ 650-1802, according to other sources from the Trier monastery of St. Maria ad Martyres , 7th century – 1802) as Reform Abbot (1469–1491) to Laach. In doing so, he prevailed against his Cologne counterpart, Archbishop Ruprecht von der Pfalz , who provided someone else for this office and sent eight monks from the reformed monastery of Groß St. Martin . With John IV. Fart, the abbey finally joined the reforming Bursfeld Congregation in 1474, which his predecessor Abbot John III. Reuber had introduced. Under Abbot Simon von der Leyen (Simon de Petra, 1491–1512) and his 2nd and 3rd successors Peter Maech von Remagen (1530–1552) and Johannes V. Augustinus Machhausen from Koblenz (1552–1568), previously prior in St Maria ad Martyres zu Trier, the monastery with its now very extensive library became a center of humanism of monastic form.

Modern times

Abbey church around 1832, engraving after Tombleson

In the late 17th and 18th centuries, the monastery and church were expanded “ baroque ”, especially under the 33rd Abbot Placidus Kessenich (1662–1698), and under Abbot Josef Dens (1698–1711) new choir stalls, under Abbot Michael Godarth (1711–1718) the library , a new pulpit by Clemens Aach (1718–1731), under Abbot Heinrich III. Artz (1756–1766) the expansion of the convent building and refectory as well as the entire nave of the Nikolauskapelle and under Abbot Josef II. Meurer (1767–1801) the Josefflügel and the second inner courtyard.

On August 6, 1802 (in some sources August 2), the abbey was abolished by the French administration in the course of secularization (Napoleon's edict of secularization of June 9, 1802), after the monastery had already passed the Laacher property on September 27, 1801 the occupation authorities had been expropriated. On June 10, one day after the edict, Laachs died 41st and last, not yet consecrated abbot Thomas Kupp as the designated successor to Abbot Josef Meurer (1766–1801) who died in 1801 - on the day of the abolition of the monastery, 650 years later Gilbert's death, the 709 year old monastery of St. Maria zu Laach, which only housed 17 monks, was no longer a head.

Laach Monastery (original picture from the monastery property before 1800; oil on wood, unsigned; 19 × 13.5 cm)
Mosaic in the choir room
Maria Laach Abbey , painting by Fritz von Wille , 1908

The property of the abbey was transferred to the domain of the French state; The movable goods were collected in the chapter house and refectory, meticulously recorded by the French commissioners in lists and also passed into state and partly private property. Both the land and the movable goods were auctioned in the following years in Koblenz, the capital of the Rhine-Moselle department, and brought high revenues for the French state, as they were often high-quality estates, for example high-yielding vineyards on the Moselle. According to plans by the French government, the monastery complex was to be converted into a prison . The pending litigation regarding the fate of the abbey ultimately saves it as France has not ordered premature demolition. In 1815, as a result of the resolutions of the Congress of Vienna, it passed into Prussian state ownership. Several attempts at privatization followed; but only when Prussia agreed to take the monastery church out of the sale, an auction succeeded. Of the eight interested parties, the verificateur Wenzel received the bid for 24,900 " Thaler in Prussian Courant " for the former monastery buildings, the lake and the lands for the royal Prussian government president in Trier, Daniel Heinrich Delius , on January 24, 1820 . After his death (1832) until January 1863, the manor he set up here remained in the possession of his children Louis and Eduard Delius and Clara von Ammon, who lived there with their families for so long. After a severe fire in the prelature in 1855, they had the east wing rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style by Cologne cathedral builder Ernst Friedrich Zwirner . In 1863 the German Jesuit Province acquired the former abbey building and built its “Collegium Maximum” there, rebuilt the library and developed an intensive religious journalism. Since that time the monastery complex has been given the new name “Maria Laach” and no longer the name (monastery) “Laach”, which has been customary since the Middle Ages, although the term Sancta Maria ad Lacum or monasterium Sanctae Mariae ad lacum (monastery of St. Maria am See / zu Laach) were common Latin names because of the patronage of the Blessed Mother. As part of the Kulturkampf , the Collegium was closed again in 1892. The Jesuits offered the abbey to the Benedictine order for takeover.

Prior Willibrord Benzler from the Beuron Archabbey took up the offer and obtained approval for the takeover on August 30, 1892 in an audience with Kaiser Wilhelm II (in his capacity as Prussian King ). As early as November 28, 1892, he and some Benedictine monks resettled Maria Laach monastery as a priory, initially as prior. On October 15, 1893, the monastery with the new name "Maria Laach" was consecrated as an abbey for the second time in 737 years and Prior Willibrord Benzler was consecrated as the 42nd abbot. The use of the church, which the Prussian state did not transfer to the abbey until 1923, was granted to the Benedictines after they had accepted shared use by the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union ( Simultaneum ), which was practically never relevant.

As King of Prussia and host of the church, Wilhelm II donated a new high altar in 1898 based on designs by the well-known Berlin architect Max Spitta (removed after 1945) and from 1905 played a major role in the interior mosaic. He determined that the main apse of Christ Pantocrator in the dome should be based on the model of the apse of the Cathedral of Monreale , based on a drawing by P. Andreas Göser from Beuron and made by Puhl & Wagner .

Some monastery buildings were designed between 1901 and 1913 by Ludger Rincklake OSB, himself a monk of the abbey. In 1928/29 the Frankfurt architect Martin Weber built several extensions.

In 1933, the later German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer , who was removed from his position as Cologne Mayor by the National Socialists, found refuge for a year in the monastery, which was then headed by his school friend Ildefons Herwegen , and lived there as "Brother Konrad". On April 12, 1933, the friend of Ildefons Herwegen theologian put Johannes Pinsk the profession as oblate from the abbey. After the Second World War, he rebuilt his Mater Dolorosa parish church in Berlin-Lankwitz, which had been destroyed by a bombing raid, based on the model of the Maria Laach monastery church, by designing the original main nave of the church as a forecourt to the newly roofed transept.

800 years of Maria Laach Abbey Church (West German postage stamp, 1956)

The largest number of members of 182 (1934) and the foundation of the monastery publishing house "ars liturgica" fall during this time. Under Abbot Ildefons Herwegen, the monastery community began to deal intensively with liturgy research . In 1948 a separate institute for this theological discipline was set up.

In 1937 and 1956 (800th anniversary of consecration), two major renovation projects began, through which first the external and then the internal appearance of the abbey church were brought closer to the original appearance. The construction work in the 1950s was led by Stefan Leuer , professor of church building and architecture at the Cologne factory schools .

The abbey and the Laacher See were added to the list of applicants for World Heritage in 1984, but withdrawn in 1993.

On Sunday , August 27, 2006 the Benedictine community of the monastery celebrated the festive mass for the 850th consecration day of the church with the Bishop of Trier Reinhard Marx .


A total of forty (one) abbots headed the Laach monastery from 1138 (Gilbert van Laach, from 1127 as a priory) to 1801 or 1802, when Thomas Kupp, the 41st designated abbot and successor to Josef Meurer, who died in 1801, was already on 10. June 1802, not yet consecrated, died and therefore could no longer take up his post, also because of the secularization ordered the day before. Few were in office for a long time like Dietrich (Theoderich) II. Von Lehmen (1256-1295), who made his office available after 39 years and lived as a private person for another twelve years, his successor Kuno (1295-1328), one of the wisest abbots at 33, Wilhelm II von Leutesdorf at 40 (longest term of office) and the (before) last abbot Josef Meurer at 35. Two abbots such as the 7th Abbot Dietrich (Theoderich) I of Trier (1235–1248) moved to other monasteries after his resignation (Minorite monastery in Andernach ). Around the six abbots resigned and one abbot was removed from office. In addition to the first six abbots, Dietrich II, Wigand II von Panau and the abbots of the Baroque era, Placidus Kessenich, Michael Godarth, Josef I. Dens and Clemens Aach were particularly active in construction.

The abbey ran into a management crisis in 2014 when the abbot Benedikt Müntnich , who had been in office since 2002, was not re-elected by the monks. As superior of the monastery, Father Albert Sieger was appointed administrator by the leadership of the Beuron Benedictine congregation ; he gave up the office in May 2016. As a result, Father Andreas Werner from Gerleve Abbey was appointed temporary director for three years; In 2018, for reasons of age, he declined the Laach monks' request to run for abbot and returned to his home abbey at the end of April 2019. On May 5 and 6, 2019, an abbot election was scheduled under the direction of Father Albert Schmidt , the abbot praeses of the Beuron congregation, but this was interrupted without result, as no candidate achieved the necessary two-thirds majority. According to the Catholic News Agency, there is a dissent in the convent about the future direction of the abbey, specifically about the question of whether the abbey should continue to open up to tourists and events or whether it should lead a more secluded monastic life again. Subprior Father Petrus Nowack initially headed the abbey temporarily. On June 17, 2019, the Abbot President appointed him, with the consent of the Congregational Council of the Beuron Congregation, as Prior Administrator for three years with all the rights and duties of a superior , but not as an abbot. Petrus Nowack was born in 1956 and grew up in Frankfurt am Main. In 1975 he joined the Maria Laach Abbey and, after studying in Trier and Salzburg, was ordained a priest in 1983 . At times he was secretary to Abbot Anno Schoenen and was repeatedly involved in the management of the monastery as prior and subprior. At the same time, the abbot president appointed the former abbot of the Neuburg abbey near Heidelberg, Franziskus Heereman OSB, as a visitor who is to accompany and support the prior administrator and the community of monks in Maria Laach in the near future.

On June 19, 2020, the abbey announced that an apostolic visitation requested in 2019 from the Roman Religious Congregation would take place. The congregation appointed Eichstätt Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke OSB and Abbot President Barnabas Bögle OSB from Ettal Abbey as visitators . The Lacher monks hope for a "service to peace in Maria Laach". The visitors paid a first visit to the abbey on June 1, 2020.

coat of arms

Coat of arms of the Papal Minor

The full coat of arms of Maria Laach Abbey is attached below the vaulted ceiling on the rear wall of Paradise opposite the entrance, a Gothic triangular shield with arched sides.

Blazon : "Split of blue and gold, in front three pointed silver towers with two pole-like black double windows on a similar beam growing from the edge of the shield, behind a red-armored, half black eagle at the crack."

Timbring (additions to the escutcheon): “Behind the shield is a bumpy, golden round rod at the bottom, the canopy above the shield with a golden ball, alternating red and yellow, below with a yellow edge and six semicircular borders in reverse color sequence wearing, covered with a crossed right-slanting golden and left-slanting silver key, the beards pointing outwards, the ring rides with enclosed Christ monogram with a red closed, knotted cord and tassel below the shield, on the shield edge in front the bishop's hat of Nicholas with a yellow ribbon and red flag growing from the side of the shield, behind a growing, obliquely left, golden abbot's staff with an enclosed silver symbol of Christ and a waving silver velum . "

The emblem is: "pax in virtute" ( lat. Peace in virtue )

Declaration of the coat of arms: The three towers with bars (= transept) stand as a symbol of the Laach basilica (see also the Glees coat of arms), the half eagle in the colors of the imperial eagle for the claim of the abbey in the 17th century to have parts of the abbey property immediately . In other representations of the shield, the bar is floating without contact with the edge of the shield and the towers, the middle tower is elevated. An older version has the silver silhouette of the abbey church from the west, the eagle with a golden nimbus, instead of the three towers with beams in front. The keys are those of Peter and are part of certain clerical coats of arms such as that of the Pope, the Cardinal Chamberlain in the event of a vacancy and that of a basilica maior .

Coat of arms history: Mentioned for the first time in 1636, the oldest illustration dates from 1718 on the seal of the Laacher Konventualen (monk or religious knight with seat and vote in the convent) Johann Esken as Apostolic Protonotary under Pope Clemens XI. Later it appeared more frequently, often together with the abbot's coat of arms. The canopy has been in use since Pope Pius XI's appointment as a minor basilica in 1926 . Part of the coat of arms.

Monastery church


View of Maria Laach around 1900; in the background the octagon can still be seen in its Gothic elevation with pointed helmet from 1355

The Abbey Church of Maria Laach is one of the best preserved and outstanding Romanesque buildings in Germany. This is mainly due to the fact that the abbey church was almost completely spared from later renovations. Changes during the Gothic (more pointed tower roofs) and Baroque (enlarged aisle windows) were reversed during the renovation work of the 20th century. The building therefore appears very harmonious and timely despite its long construction period.

The construction plan of the monastery follows the so-called St. Gallen monastery plan , which was drawn up by the then Abbot Gozbert of St. Gallen with Benedict von Aniane at the synod of Aachen in 816 . As a building material found brown-yellow Laacher tuff , white limestone from Lorraine , red Kyll - sandstone in the first phase, later gray tuff from women and basalt of Veit head (Augitlava, north of Lake Laach) and from Lower Mendig application. While the roofs used to be covered with copper , they have been covered with traditional slate since the 19th century .

The church, also Laacher Munster called, is in shape a doppelchörige, three-aisled basilica with two transepts ( Transepten ), surmounted by six towers. Both transepts are each crowned with a tower - the central tower in the west and the crossing tower ( octagon ) in the east, which are each flanked by two towers: the central tower with the bell of two lower round towers in the west and the crossing tower (since the re-Romanization through the flatter helmet again lower than the side towers) of two higher square flank towers in the east (1177 completion of the east choir, flank towers, 1230 completion of the west part). Except for the round north-west flank tower, which contains a spiral staircase barrel, all three other side towers are hollow. The southern round flank tower also housed bells. The outer walls are provided with pilaster strips. A specialty is the later (1225–1235) cultivated paradise.

The building follows the tradition of the great Rhenish imperial cathedrals in Speyer , Mainz and Worms . The exterior embodies the idea of ​​the Romanesque castle, which is reinforced by the relatively short nave. Clear and simple lines dominate the structure of the exterior. The floor plan shows a cross - symbolism for God the Lord. Furthermore, the west work against sunset (the dark side) stands for the aristocracy as a "defensive position" (protector), the east work against sunrise (the light side) for the clergy as a "teaching position" and the multi-nave nave (mediator between the two) for the people as "nutrient level".

Tomb of Count Palatine Heinrich II von Laach

Inside, the basilica is also kept quite simple, without many elaborate blind arches and arcades. In the early 13th century, the central nave of the nave, which had previously been provided with a flat beamed ceiling, was vaulted. In the east choir, where the masses are celebrated and the choir stalls of the convent are located, a unique cibory altar has been preserved as the high altar . This ciborium is a canopy supported on pillars . It was acquired in 1256 under the 11th Abbot Theoderich (Dietrich) II of Lehmen (1256-1295, † 1307) (increased in the 17th century) and spanned the 1256 in the nave at the east end of the third yoke (fourth pair of pillars from the west seen) newly created high grave (pit with sarcophagus, above a magnificent wooden founder figure on the actual tumba) of the abbey donor Palatine Count Heinrich II. von Laach, which was formerly in the cloister because the nave was not yet completed. Accordingly, it served the ennoblement of the deceased founder of the abbey church, whereby critical aspects of the secular and ecclesiastical realities of the time also flowed into the design of the ciborium. Since 1947 it has served as an altar ciborium in the east choir of the abbey church, but was moved and set up without the original dwarf gallery. Abbot Theodoric also had some tower roofs raised in the Gothic style - tower ends walled up with cornices and steeper helmets - and the early Gothic windows broken into the east choir; under the 15th abbot Wigand von Panau (1335-1360) the tower extensions were completed. During the tenure of the 22nd Abbot Simon von der Leyen (Simon von Petra, 1491-1512), the famous pillar frescoes of St. Benedict (founder of the order, south-west pillar west choir), Nicholas (co-patron of the abbey church with an integrated image of Abbot Simon, the same Pillar, north side) and Christophorus (north-west pillar, south side) and the paradise added. Until the 19th century, the paradise portal was closed with a double door. In the following years the monastery buildings were changed and expanded.

In the 16th century the abbey church had 16 altars, one in the west choir, eight in the nave, two in the east choir, one each in the side apses of the transept, one - a sacellum (chapel) - in the north part of the transept, two of them in the crypt. They were dedicated to various saints and served their veneration. The "Altar of 10,000 Martyrs" placed in the middle of the nave by the founder's grave was often used by budding priest monks for the first celebration of Holy Mass with their families. These altars were removed in the 17th century and partly replaced by other altars or buildings. The Koblenz abbot Johannes V. Augustin Machhausen described a source of the installation of the altars and their use in his Rituale Hyparchiae .

In the years 1662–1668, the church interiors were redesigned in Baroque style under Abbot Placidus Kessenich (1662–1696). He had the west choir lowered and the floor of the nave filled up in order to move the founder's high grave with canopy appropriately in the west choir. Furthermore, at his behest, the aisle windows of Romanesque size were expanded to include baroque ideas (reversed in the 20th century). The high altar, which was created around 1695 and moved to the parish church of Kesseling after the abbey was closed , has been preserved. Under his successors Josef Dens (1696–1711) and Clemens Aach (1718–1731), a new choir stalls were exchanged for those built by Abbot Simon von der Leyen (1491–1512) and a carved pulpit was installed. Abbot Heinrich III. Artz (1756–1766), his coat of arms can still be seen today on the front of the building, had the convent building expanded and topped up, then in 1757 the old nave of the Nikolauskapelle was expanded into a three-axis hall with new buttresses and a three-sided choir closure. The abbey's refectory also underwent a change. In 1775, under Abbot Josef II. Meurer (1766–1801), Johannes Seiz , a pupil of Balthasar Neumann , added the Joseff wing to the monastery buildings. It still exists today with a mansard roof designed by P. Ludgerus Rincklake . The second inner courtyard adjoining the cloister to the south was expanded to include the existing west wing. Of the old monastery buildings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , only the tower of the Nicholas Chapel from 1230 from the time of Abbot Gregory has survived.

In the 19th century, two major renovation work campaigns were carried out (1830 / 1840s and 1880s) to absorb and repair the serious damage (vaults, roofs) caused by the Delius families as a result of the second lowering of the lake level by a five meter below the Fulbert tunnel The new drain built between 1842 and 1844 occurred and to repair the fire damage of 1885 (the monastery front and prelature burned down). Around 1830, the paradise around the upper floor was reduced to its original form. For a long time you could still see traces of the former upper floor on the church's outer wall.

In 1902 the first “remodeling work” began, and the side aisle windows (enlarged in 1668 in Baroque style) were given a Romanesque dimension again.

The lion fountain

In the major restoration phase in 1937, late Gothic and Baroque elements (pointed roof of the central tower and octagon together with the walling up there with clover leaf openings) were removed, and the lion fountain in the Hortus conclusus (closed garden) of Paradise was completed by P. Radbod Commandeur. In 1956, for the 800-year consecration, the interior was also restored to approximate the original design and the embankments from the time of Abbot Kessenich were removed to adapt the lowering of the west choir. To do this, the column bases had to be reloaded.


In 1894/99 the abbey received six new church bells from the bell foundries Adrien Causard from Tellin and Firmin Causard from Colmar . The abbey church is the only church in Rhineland-Palatinate to have a complete ensemble of bells, which was created between the Thirty Years' War and the First World War , and also the only loud bell for this renowned company in Germany. In 1991, for the 900th anniversary of the founding, the Laacher chimes were supplemented by six more bells from the Bachert bell foundry in Karlsruhe .

Casting year
Foundry, casting location
1 Regina Coeli 1899 Adrien Causard, Tellin 4,864 b 0
2 Maurus 1899 Adrien Causard, Tellin 2,757 of the 1st
3 Benedictus 1899 Firmin Causard, Colmar 1,876 it 1
4th Joseph 1894 Adrien Causard, Tellin 1.006 f 1
5 Catharina 1991 Karin Andris, Karlsruhe 1,064 ges 1
6th Laurentius 1894 Adrien Causard, Tellin 710 as 1
7th Matthias 1894 Adrien Causard, Tellin 517 b 1
8th Angel 1991 Karin Andris, Karlsruhe 445 ces 2
9 Nicolaus 1991 Karin Andris, Karlsruhe 362 of the 2nd
10 Scholastica 1991 Karin Andris, Karlsruhe 285 it 2
11 Eucharius & Valerius 1991 Karin Andris, Karlsruhe 200 ges 2
12 Heribert & Anno 1991 Karin Andris, Karlsruhe 146 as 2



The main organ on the west gallery of the abbey church was built in 1910 by the organ builder Georg Stahlhuth (Aachen) as a double organ, reusing the pipe material from the choir organ from 1894. The instrument was last restored in 2000 by the organ builder Johannes Klais (Bonn). The main organ has 59 sounding stops and seven transmissions on three manuals and pedal . The main structure is behind the parapet, the upper structure above the parapet. The two swell mechanisms are located in the southern and north yoke of the gallery, the small pedal is housed in the swell mechanism (III. Manual). The upper work (II. Manual) and the swell (III. Manual) and the small pedal were planned as a choir organ in 1910. The actions are electro-pneumatic.

I Hauptwerk C – g 3

01. Principal 16 ′
02. Drone 16 ′
03. Major principal 08th'
04th Seraphon closed 08th'
05. Minor principal 08th'
06th Harmony flute 08th'
07th Fugara 08th'
08th. Gemshorn 08th'
09. Dumped 08th'
10. Dolce 08th'
11. Starkfugara 04 ′
12. Octav 04 ′
13. Reed flute 04 ′
14th Quint 02 33
15th Octav 02 ′
16. third 01 35
17th Mixture III-IV 02 ′
18th Bombard 16 ′
19th Trumpet 08th'
20th Tuba mirabilis (= No. 30) 08th'
II Swell C – g 3
21st Seraphon flute 000 08th'
22nd Heavily dacked 08th'
23. Viol 08th'
24. Vox coelestis 08th'
25th violin 04 ′
26th Octavine 02 ′
27. Intoxicating fifth II 02 23
28. Mixture III-IV 02 ′
29 Trumpet 08th'
30th Tuba mirabilis 08th'
II upper structure C – g 3
31. Lovely Gedackt 00 16 ′
32. Principal 08th'
33. Concert flute 08th'
34. Fugara 08th'
35. Reed flute 08th'
36. Gemshorn 08th'
37. Salicional 08th'
38. Octav 04 ′
39. Transverse flute 04 ′
40. Cornettino III 02 23
III Swell C – g 3
41. Violin principal 00 08th'
42. Heavily dacked 08th'
43. Concert flute 08th'
44. violin 08th'
45. Delicately packed 08th'
46. Quintatön 08th'
47. Aeoline 08th'
48. Unda maris 08th'
49. Reed flute 04 ′
50. Flautino 02 ′
51. Sesquialter II 02 23
52. oboe 08th'
Pedal C – f 1
Large pedal
53. Principal (= No. 1) 16 ′
54. Contrabass 16 ′
55. Violon bass 16 ′
56. Principal (= No. 3) 08th'
57. Gedackt (= No. 9) 08th'
58. cello 08th'
59. trombone 16 ′
60. Basson (= No. 18) 16 ′
61. Trumpet 08th'
Small pedal (swellable) 0
62. Sub bass 32 ′
63. Sub bass 16 ′
64. Salicet 16 ′
65. Drone (= No. 21) 16 ′
66. Flute (= No. 23) 08th'
  • Pairing :
    • Normal coupling: II / I, III / I, III / II, I / P, II / P, III / P
    • Super octave coupling: II / I, II / II, III / I, III / II, III / III
    • Sub-octave coupling: II / I, III / I, III / II
  • Playing aids : Tutti, crescendo roller .

The choir organ hangs as a swallow's nest organ on the west wall of the south transept . It was built in 1998 by the Johannes Klais company (Bonn). The instrument has 21 stops (plus 2 transmissions) on two manuals and pedal.

I Echowerk C – g 3
1. Dumped 08th'
2. Unda maris 08th'
3. Reed flute 04 ′
4th Nassat 02 23
5. Flageolet 02 ′
6th third 01 35
7th Vox humana 0 08th'
II Hauptwerk C – g 3
08th. Principal 08th'
09. Salicional 08th'
10. Drone 08th'
11. Copula 08th'
12. Octave 04 ′
13. Gemshorn 04 ′
14th Fifth 02 23
15th Super octave 0 02 ′
16, Cornet 04 ′
17th Mixture V 02 ′
18th Trumpet 08th'
Pedal C – f 1
20th Sub-bass 16 ′
21st Drone (= No. 10)0 08th'
22nd Octav (= No. 12) 04 ′
23. bassoon 16 ′

In 2015, Gereon Krahforst succeeded Johannes Trümpler as the abbey organist , who was appointed to Dresden as cathedral organist on April 1st of that year .

Monastery library

Commercial enterprises

The abbey owns the so-called "Klostergut", a leased agricultural property, it is operated as an organic farm with an attached organic shop, the Laacher See with its tourist facilities ( campsite , boat rental and fishing), the renowned Seehotel, a large gardening company with an orchard , a book and an art publisher, a book and an art shop, a sculptor's workshop and craft businesses that also offer training ( bell foundry , art blacksmith's ). With LACENSIA , a separate brand was created in 2015. Lacensia includes the ceramic work from the factory, the textile products from the monastery tailoring and products from the monastery kitchen. The abbey's carpentry workshop was privatized in 2003 and today presents its range, which focuses on interior fittings and the production of individual pieces, in the “Villa Reuther” built in 1936.

Chapels and cemetery


In alphabetical order by authors / editors:

  • Marcel Albert: The Benedictine Abbey Maria Laach and National Socialism. Schöningh, Paderborn 2004. ISBN 3-506-70135-5
  • Annals of Maria Laach (between 1170 and 1177): Annales Lacenses
  • Christian Bartz: The secularization of Laach Abbey in 1802. A case study. In: Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter (RhVjBll) Vol. 62, 1998, pp. 238–307.
  • Theodor Bogler OSB: Maria Laach - past and present of the Abbey on the Laacher See. In: Art Guide, Large Edition Vol. 12, Schnell & Steiner, Munich and Zurich 1958 (third and revised edition)
  • Drutmar Cremer OSB: Maria Laach - Münster and Mönche am See. Lahn-Verlag, Limburg 1989. ISBN 3-7840-2670-2
  • Drutmar Cremer OSB: Maria Laach - A song full of history and beauty. Kösel-Verlag, Munich 2016. ISBN 978-3-466-37143-3
  • Regine Dölling: The donor's grave in Maria Laach (= preservation of monuments in Rhineland-Palatinate. Research reports 1). Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 1990, ISBN 978-3-88462-069-4
  • Frans J. van Droogenbroeck: Paltsgraaf Herman II († 1085) en de stichting van de abdij van Affligem (June 28, 1062). In: Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 2 (1999), pp. 38-95.
  • Frans J. van Droogenbroeck: De betekenis van paltsgraaf Herman II (1064-1085) voor het graafschap Brabant. In: Eigen Schoon en De Brabander Vol. 87, 2004, pp. 1–166.
  • Godehard Hoffmann: Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Benedictine order. In: Journal of Church History. Vol. 106, 1995, pp. 363-384
  • Jan Pieper : The ciborium of the Maria Laach abbey church. Form and construction, function and meaning . Workbooks on the history of architecture, Volume 5, Geymüller Verlag für Architektur, Aachen / Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-943164-15-2 .
  • Johannes Pinsk : On the 25th anniversary of the abbot of Maria Laach, In: Liturgisches Leben. Volume 5, 1938
  • Beda Regaus OSB: Hafflighemum Illustratum, Part IV – V: De filiationibus ejusdem abbatiae (Manuscript Archive Affligem Abbey, 1773–1775). In: Anastatic edition , Ed. Wilfried Verleyen OSB; Reprint 264, Algemeen Rijksarchief, Brussels 2002.
  • Bertram Resmini: The Archdiocese of Trier, Bd. 7 The Benedictine Abbey of Laach. Germania Sacra. New episode 31. The dioceses of the church province of Trier. Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-11-013657-0
  • Emmanuel from Severus OSB: Ecclesia Lacensis. Contributions on the occasion of the repopulation of the Abbey of Maria Laach by Benedictines from Beuron 100 years ago on November 25, 1892 and the foundation of the monastery by Count Palatine Heinrich II of Laach 900 years ago 1093 = Contributions to the history of ancient monasticism and the Benedictine order (BGAM) Suppl. 6. Aschendorff, Münster 1993, ISBN 3-402-03976-1 .
  • Basilius Sandner OSB, Karl-Heinz Schumacher: The Benedictine Abbey Maria Laach. Sutton-Verlag, Erfurt 2006, ISBN 3-89702-982-0 .
  • Basilius Sandner OSB, Karl-Heinz Schumacher: The monastery church Maria Laach. Sutton-Verlag, Erfurt 2007, ISBN 3-86680-124-6 .
  • Basilius Sandner OSB, Karl-Heinz Schumacher: Laacher monks at work. Sutton-Verlag, Erfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-86680-296-4 .
  • Basilius Sandner OSB, Karl-Heinz Schumacher: Maria Laach in the First and Second World Wars. Sutton-Verlag, Erfurt 2009. ISBN 978-3-86680-536-1 .
  • Paulus Volk OSB: The founder of Maria Laach (Count Palatine Heinrich II.) From the Luxemburg-Salm family. Revue Bénédictine 36 (1924), pp. 255-267.
  • Paulus Volk OSB: Laach and Affligem. In: Benedictine Monthly for the Care of Religious and Spiritual Life 9 (1927), pp. 69–70.
  • Dethard von Winterfeld : The Abbey Church Maria Laach. Schnell & Steiner, Ars Liturgica, Regensburg 2004, ISBN 3-7954-1681-7 .

Web links

Commons : Maria Laach  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Source texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b deed of foundation ( memento of March 6, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 19 kB).
  2. ^ Ambrosius Leidinger OSB: Münster am See. 850 years of Maria Laach Abbey Church . In: Erbe und Einsatz , vol. 83 (2007), issue 1, p. 87.
  3. ^ P. Basilius Sandner OSB and Karl-Heinz Schumacher: The monastery church Maria Laach. Sutton-Verlag, Erfurt 2007.
  4. Klaus Grewe : The Fulbert tunnel on the Laacher See. An engineering achievement of the high Middle Ages , Rhineland-Verlag Cologne (in commission Rudolf Habelt Verlag Bonn) 1979 ISBN 3-7927-0489-7 .
  5. Gerd Otto: In the footsteps of the Romans in the East Eifel. Sutton-Verlag, 2009, pp. 9-16; ISBN 978-3-86680-445-6 .
  6. ^ Archive Maria Laach, IIA l.
  7. P. Dr. Emanuel v. Severus OSB: “Maria Laach - Review and Outlook. 100 years after the resettlement - 900 years after the foundation ”, in: Heimatjahrbuch des Kreis Ahrweiler, 1993.
  8. ^ Basilius Sandner OSB and Karl-Heinz Schumacher: The Benedictine Abbey of Maria Laach. Sutton-Verlag, Erfurt 2006, p. 49, ISBN 3-89702-982-0 .
  10. Gerlever Pater does not want to become an abbot of Maria Laach , December 27, 2018.
  11. Maria Laach: Benedictines cancel election of abbots , May 8, 2019.
  12. P. Petruis Nowack is the new Prior administrator.
  13. Benedictine Abbey Maria Laach has a new superior.
  14. ' Apostolic Visitation , June 19, 2020.
  15. Vatican investigates tensions in Maria Laach Monastery , July 10, 2020.
  16. Bertram Resmini: The Archdiocese of Trier. Vol. 7 The Benedictine Abbey of Laach. Germania Sacra. New episode 31. The dioceses of the church province of Trier . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1993. ISBN 3-11-013657-0 ; P. 186 f.
  17. Pieper, Jan, 1944-: The ciborium of the Maria Laach abbey church: Form and construction, function and meaning . Geymüller, Verlag für Architektur, Aachen 2016, ISBN 978-3-943164-15-2 .
  18. [Table: Magdalene Melchers: Exalted above space and time. Voices and bells from Maria Laach Abbey . Audiobook, Deutschlandradio, 2012.]
  19. Information about the organ on the website of the organ builder Klais (as of December 14, 2018).
  20. More about the Stahlhuth organ .
  21. Information on the choir organ (with a further link to the main organ at the end of the page) .

Coordinates: 50 ° 24 '8.1 "  N , 7 ° 15' 7.6"  E