Niederaltaich Abbey

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Engraving of the monastery from the Churbaier Atlas by Anton Wilhelm Ertl , 1687

The Abbey Niederaltaich (until the 12th century .: Altach ; lat. Abbatia Altahae inferiori or Aldaechium ) is a Benedictine monastery in the village of Niederalteich on the Danube in Lower Bavaria , Diocese of Passau . According to tradition, the monastery consecrated to Saint Mauritius and his companions was founded in 741 by Duke Odilo of Bavaria . The abbey belongs to the Bavarian Benedictine Congregation .

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View of the abbey and parish church

The monastery is donated by Duke Odilo and his companions ( socii ) to the church of St. Mauritius and thus to the "Altaha" monastery. Even when it was founded, Odilo had an ideal founding convention of twelve monks from Alamannia with the permission of Pippin and with the support of the Strasbourg bishop Heddo , who was previously abbot on the Reichenau .

After it was founded in 741, the monastery of Saint Pirmin was settled with monks from the Reichenau Abbey in Lake Constance. Hermann von Reichenau errs in naming the year 731. The first abbot Eberswind is considered the editor of the first Bavarian tribal law, the Lex Baiuvariorum . In 788, Altaich Monastery was given the status of an imperial monastery for the first time .

The monastery cultivated large parts of Lower Bavaria up to what is now the Czech Republic and founded 120 settlements in the Bavarian Forest. Under Charlemagne and Ludwig the German , the abbey property expanded into the Wachau in the Bavarian east country . Abbot Gozbald (825–855) was Arch Chancellor under the latter . He was presumably followed by Otgar , who later became Bishop of Eichstätt . In 848 the monastery was granted the right to freely elect abbots, and in 857 it was granted imperial immediacy . The monastery lost its imperial immediacy through the granting of a fief by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa to the Bamberg diocese in 1152 and became an episcopal own monastery . Until secularization , Niederaltaich was a closed Hofmark .

The century of the Hungarian storms brought decline and the conversion of the monastery into a secular canon . This monastery existed from 950 to 990, after which the Benedictine monks returned.

Under Abbot Gotthard (Godehard) (996-1022) a new heyday of the monastery began. This holy abbot, who in cooperation with Duke Heinrich IV of Bavaria, the later Emperor Heinrich II and Bishop Wolfgang von Regensburg, was the bearer of the monastery reform of his time, is probably the most famous abbot of the abbey. He later became Bishop of Hildesheim and is buried there. From 1238 to 1803, the Spitz parish church in the Wachau was incorporated into the monastery. The monastery was covered by the Gorz reform under Gotthard's leadership and was the starting point for the settlement or revitalization of other monasteries.

In 1242 the Wittelsbach family took over the bailiwick of Niederalteich abbey as heirs to the Counts of Bogen . Important abbots from this time on were Hermann (1242–1273), the author of the “Annales Hermanni” and the reform abbots Kilian Weybeck (1503–1534) and Paulus Gmainer (1550–1585). After the Thirty Years' War, Vitus Bacheneder, abbot from 1651 to 1666, laid the foundations for the monastery to flourish during the Baroque period . In 1671 the whole building burned down to the surrounding walls. Reconstruction progressed only slowly. Carlo Antonio Carlone built the tower in 1698 . Under Abbot Joscio Hamberger (1700–1739) the design of the baroque monastery and the current church as well as the establishment of a school took place. From 1718 to 1724 Jakob Pawanger directed the renovation of the Gothic abbey church . In 1724 Pawanger was replaced by Johann Michael Fischer , who completed the renovation of the choir by 1727. The north tower was only built between 1730 and 1735 in alignment with the existing tower.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, Niederaltaich was one of the most important and powerful monasteries in southern Germany with three provosts and 28 incorporated parishes. Three archbishops and eight bishops emerged from the abbey, 51 monks were appointed as abbots in other monasteries, in addition to the aforementioned St. Gotthard , St. Gunther was also a monk from Niederaltaich.

With the secularization through the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss , the monastery was abolished on March 21, 1803. The church fire caused by a lightning strike in 1813 marked the beginning of the demolition of large parts of the baroque complex. The destroyed tower domes were replaced by tent roofs. The monastery buildings were sold to private individuals. The side chapels of the monastery church, the Gothic cloister and the adjoining monastery tracts as well as the parish church at that time were demolished and the monastery church was rededicated as the parish church. In 1918 Niederaltaich was repopulated with two fathers and a lay brother from Metten Monastery with the help of a legacy from Niederalteich religious professor Franz Xaver Knabenbauer . In 1925 a small Latin school with a seminar was opened. 1927 brought a significant increase in personnel with the transfer of the monastery community of Kinderfreund-Benedictines from Volders / Tyrol including their library to Niederaltaich. On June 29, 1932, Pope Pius XI. the parish church with the Apostolic Letter Passaviensis dioecesis to the " Basilica minor ". In 1949 the monastery became an independent abbey again under Abbot Emmanuel Maria Heufelder .

The remaining parts of the baroque monastery complex were re-connected by a new building in 1953/1954 and gradually renovated. In 1959 the Catholic country folk high school was founded. From 1971 to 1973 the St. Gotthard grammar school , which had been in existence again since 1946, was expanded to include a new building, but its boarding school closed in 1994. From 1999 to 2001 the St. Pirmin conference and guest house was rebuilt in the boarding school. From 2006 to 2007 the new high school building was renovated. In the period that followed, the St. Gotthard grammar school was expanded into an all-day school . About 30 Benedictine monks currently live and work in Niederaltaich Abbey. Abbot Marianus Bieber (* 1958) has been in charge of the monastery since 2001. Former Abbot Emmanuel Jungclaussen (1927-2018), who became known through many publications and various meditation courses, also lived in the abbey .


The former monastery and current parish church


View through the main nave to the side of the altar

The interior is completely baroque and no longer reminds of the original Gothic hall church . Nine yokes lead to the high altar. Johann Baptist d'Aglio and Sebastian d'Aglio created the stucco with the help of Franz Josef Holzinger . The extensive fresco cycle was created from 1719 to 1732 by the painter Wolfgang Andreas Heindl . The high altar was created by Jakob Schöpf as early as 1703 . It stands between the choir and the nave. The altarpiece by Franz Josef Geiger from 1675 shows the torture of St. Mauritius .


View of the historic organ case

The first organ with two manuals and 27 registers was built by Caspar König in 1727 . Today's organ work dates back to 1985. It was rebuilt by master organ builder Georg Jann behind the historic prospectus . The instrument has 48 registers on four manuals and a pedal . The actions are mechanical.

I Hauptwerk C – g 3
1. Principal 16 ′
2. Praestant 8th'
3. Copula 8th'
4th Viol 8th'
5. Octave 4 ′
6th Fifth 2 23
7th Super octave 2 ′
8th. Mixture V 1 13
9. Cornet v 8th'
10. Trumpet 16 ′
11. Trumpet 8th'
II upper structure C – g 3
12. Quintad 16 ′
13. Principal 8th'
14th Reed flute 8th'
15th octave 4 ′
16. Pointed cover 4 ′
17th Nasat 2 23
18th Forest flute 2 ′
19th third 1 35
20th Fifth 1 13
21st Scharff III 1'
22nd Dulcian 16 ′
23. Schalmey 8th'
III Kronwerk C – g 3
24. Wood-covered 8th'
25th Principal 4 ′
26th Flute 4 ′
27. Octave 2 ′
28. Terzian II
29 Sif flute 1'
30th Cymbel III 1'
31. Vox humana 8th'
IV Echowerk C – g 3
32. Wooden flute 8th'
33. Salizional 8th'
34. Beat 8th'
35. recorder 4 ′
36. viola 4 ′
37. Cornet IV
38. oboe 8th'
Pedal C – f 1
39. Praestant 16 ′
40. Sub bass 16 ′
41. Octavbass 8th'
42. Gemshorn 8th'
43. Hollow flute 4 ′
44. Peasant flute 2 ′
45. Backset V 2 23
46. Bombard 16 ′
47. trombone 8th'
48. prong 4 ′


No. Surname Nominal
Foundry, casting location Casting year tower
1 Mauritius as 0 4820 200 Perner , Passau 2003 North
2 Michael c 1 2074 153 Grassmayr , Innsbruck 1938 south
3 Antony it 1 1300 125 Georg Sammassa, Passau 1814 south
4th Mary Annunciation f 1 0971 118 Perner, Passau 1961 south
5 Brother Konrad as 1 0500 098 Karl Hamm, Regensburg 1931 south


Due to the ecumenical objectives of the monastery, Niederaltaich is a monastery with two ecclesiastical traditions (" rites "). Some of the monks pray and live according to the Roman , some according to the Byzantine rite .

By Pope Pius XI. In 1924, the Benedictines were given the task of making theology and piety of the Christian East known in the West.

The “Divine Liturgy” ( Eucharist ) and the Liturgy of the Hours are celebrated by the monks in German. The liturgical texts were translated from Church Slavonic and Greek .

In 1986 a church and a chapel were set up in the wing of the former monastery brewery to celebrate the Byzantine rite , both of which are consecrated to St. Nicholas of Myra . The chancel is separated from the nave by an iconostasis . The further decoration of the church and the chapel with icons is reminiscent of the churches in Russia and Greece.

Today's abbey operations

  • Monastery gardening
  • Monastery shop
  • Monastery joinery
  • Agriculture
  • Liquor cellar
  • painter
  • locksmith

Sundial in the monastery courtyard

The two-part sundial

The two-part sundial of the monastery was designed by Brother Gregor Baumhof and executed together with Georg Rick, who precalculated the clock on the computer. A special feature are the curved hour lines instead of the usual straight hour rays.

Boys' Choir "Pueri Cantores Altahensis"

The boys' choir of Niederaltaich Abbey was founded in 2001 by Father Romanos Werner OSB. This choir, made up of former and current students from the St. Gotthard grammar school, sees itself as a link between the abbey and the school. The boys' choir of the Benedictine Abbey of Niederaltaich, the Pueri Cantores Altahensis, forms the official choir of the Benedictine Abbey of Niederaltaich. It stands in the tradition of the former choirboys that go back to the Middle Ages. With the Benedictines in particular, praise for God is the center of everyday life. Even in earlier centuries, the boys' choirs were therefore intended to hold church services in the abbey. Since 2001, the Pueri Cantores have once again formed a link between the grammar school and Niederaltaich Abbey. In addition to liturgical services (Maundy Thursday, Benedict's Day etc.), large concert projects (oratorios, acapella concerts) and concert tours are organized. Particularly talented boys in the arts grammar school are given the opportunity to broaden their musical horizons beyond school education through individual voice training and choral singing and to acquire social behavior within a community. The Pueri Cantores are based on the principle of the classical way of singing, as it was practiced in the choir well into modern times: The boy sopranos receive special voice training, while all other voices, i.e. alto, tenor and bass, are performed by experienced singers. In the Niederaltaich case, these are students and alumni of the grammar school of the Benedictine Abbey of Niederaltaich. The musical direction has been the responsibility of the conductor Sebastian Ferenz since 2016; Mathias Großschädl is the choir manager.


  • Roman Deutinger , Stephan Deutinger: The Niederaltaich Abbey. History, culture and spirituality from the foundation to secularization (= studies and communications on the history of the Benedictine order. Vol. 53). EOS, Sankt Ottilien 2018, ISBN 978-3-8306-7903-5 .
  • Ludger Drost, Johannes Hauck: Niederaltaich Abbey. Benedictine - Bavarian - Byzantine . Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-7917-2980-0 .

Web links

Commons : Niederaltaich Monastery  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Joachim Jahn : Ducatus Baiuvariorum: The Bavarian Duchy of the Agilolfinger , p. 193f. (= Monographs on the history of the Middle Ages). Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1991. ISBN 3-7772-9108-0 .
  2. ^ Alfred Wendehorst : The diocese of Eichstätt. Volume 1: The row of bishops until 1535 . Series: Germania Sacra - New Episode 45 . Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-11-018971-2 , p. 37.
  3. ^ Pius XI .: Litt. Apost. Passaviensis dioecesis , in: AAS 24 (1932), n.12, p. 391s.
  4. More information about the organ ( Memento from December 7, 2012 in the Internet Archive )

Coordinates: 48 ° 45 '57.8 "  N , 13 ° 1' 39.7"  E