Emmaus Monastery

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The Emmaus Monastery in Prague's New Town

The Emmaus Monastery (also Emauskloster , Czech Emauzský klaster even Klášter v Emauzích ) is a Benedictine - Abbey in the Czech capital Prague .


The originally Romanesque parish church of St. Cosmas and Damian

The Em (m) aus monastery was founded on a spur of the upper Vltava terrace on the old path to Vyšehrad before the New Town was built . At first the still preserved, old Romanesque parish church of the rafting community Podskalí St. Cosmas and Damian served as a monastery church, the parish was moved to the Nikolauskirche.

Charles IV donated on the site of the exemten Vyšehrad collegiate chapter with the consent of Pope Clement VI. (Bull of May 9, 1346) on November 21, 1347 a Slav monastery with the task of maintaining Old Slavic liturgy here .

Charles's mother was Elisabeth of Bohemia , the second eldest daughter of the penultimate Premyslid king Wenceslaus II of Bohemia . In addition to his mother tongue, Bohemian , as evidenced by his autobiography, he also mastered Latin, German, French and Italian. Karl's father was John of Bohemia , son of Emperor Henry VII and the first Bohemian king from the House of Luxembourg . After his father's death, Charles succeeded him on September 2, 1347 in the office of the Bohemian king. Two months later he founded the Slavic monastery. This quick and positive papal approval resulted from the special relationship of trust between Charles and Clement VI, who, as Archbishop of Rouen and French Chancellor under his real name Pierre Roger from the house of Rogier de Beaufort, was Charles's former tutor at the French court. Karl had already in 1346 at a meeting with Clemens VI. at the then papal seat of Avignon pointed out the dire conditions in Dalmatia. Since 1342, the new Croatian-Hungarian King Ludwig I of the House of Anjou tried to gain full control over the northeastern Adriatic coast. The representatives of the Church Slavonic liturgy got in his way.

Charles IV had already got to know the Glagolitic mass as a guest of Count Bartolomej VIII Frankopan in Senj in 1337. He stayed there as regent in Tyrol for his younger brother Johann Heinrich and his Görzerische wife Margarete (1366 first mentioned as Maultasch), an office which he held from 1335-38. Batolomej sat as prince of Krk in Senj and in 1336 freed Karl from the violence of Dalmatian pirates. He ruled from 1327 to 1361 and contributed significantly to the preservation of the Glagolitic liturgy on Krk and in Dalmatia.

In 1348 the church and monastery were handed over to Benedictine monks from Croatia by the first Archbishop of Prague, Ernst von Pardubitz . There were 80 monks from the Cosmas and Damian monastery on the island of Pašman, which was destroyed in 1345 .

According to tradition, both St. Methodius and St. Procopius had already celebrated Slavic services at the Vyšehrad collegiate church . After the monks, the monastery church was named Marienkirche by the Slavs ( Klášter Panny Marie Na Slovanech ).

The consecration of the monastery church of the Virgin Mary and the Slavic patron saint took place on March 29, 1372, an Easter Monday, in the presence of Emperor Charles IV and numerous high nobles and clergymen. Since the text from the Gospel of Luke was proclaimed on this day , which describes the encounter of Christ with the disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24, 13-35), the monastery was given the second name Emmauskloster, which was especially popular among the Germans.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the monastery developed into an outstanding educational center, in which numerous translations and illuminated manuscripts were created, including the “Registrum Slavorum” from around 1395. This is the Glagolitic part of the Evangelistary of Reims , on which the French kings swore their oath until 1782.

As one of the few monasteries in Prague, it was not destroyed by the Hussites , but was occupied by Utraquists from 1419 to 1589 and housed the only Utraquist monastery in the city from 1446 . In 1593 the Benedictines received Emaus back. After the Czech monks were transferred to St. Nicholas in Prague's Old Town , Emperor Ferdinand III appointed. 1636 Benedictines of the Spanish Montserrat monastery reform after Emaus. After they moved in, the Emauskloster was rebuilt and one storey added. As a result, the monastery flourished again spiritually and culturally. As a result of the Josephine reforms , the monks were entrusted with teaching at the Klattau grammar school in western Bohemia, which led to a decline in religious life in the Emaus monastery.

West facade in the Beuron style
Shape of the Emmauskloster until the bombing in 1945

In 1880, with the consent of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Prague Cardinal Friedrich zu Schwarzenberg , the Emauskloster came to the Beuron Congregation . At that time, as a result of the Kulturkampf, the monks were expelled from the Beuron Archabbey and arrived in Prague on March 19, 1880. The first head of the Prague branch was the Beuron abbot Maurus Wolter , the first administrator of the prior Benedikt Sauter , who was elected abbot in 1885. Under him there was a revitalization of monastic life. During his tenure, the Emauskloster grew into one of the largest Benedictine convents. At the same time it reached a spiritual boom and developed into a center of liturgical renewal. In 1887 he founded the Emautin Oblade School , in which young men were prepared for the monastic profession and were taught high school subjects. In addition, he supported the establishment of the first Beuron Benedictine monastery St. Gabriel in Prague- Smíchov . The German national Los-von-Rom movement was fought by him and his convent, as well as by his successor Albanus Schachleiter . After the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he set up a soup and soup kitchen and a hospital in the monastery rooms. In addition, younger members of the order were deployed as paramedics for the kuk -krankenzug PK 45, which consisted of sixteen ambulances, which led to all theaters of war.

With the collapse of the dual monarchy and the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, almost all German monks of the Emauskloster had to leave Prague in 1919. The reason for the expulsion was the German national attitude of the Abbot Schachleiter. He was accused that the Emauskloster, which was originally a center of the Slavic liturgy, had paradoxically become a place of German nationalism . As a result of the expulsion, the convention broke up. Some of the monks went to the Beuron Abbey of Neresheim , with the larger number of monks the former Cistercian Abbey of Grüssau in Lower Silesia was settled in 1919 , and Albert Schmitt became abbot in 1924 .

After the First World War, a large part of the monastery buildings was occupied by the state conservatory. During this difficult time in terms of ecclesiastical politics, the Prague Archbishop František Kordač was a great patron of the Emaus Monastery. In 1922 the Czech Arnošt Vykoukal was appointed prior and administrator of the monastery. He tried to stabilize monastic life and improve relations between state and church. This stopped the political attacks against the Emauskloster. After Abbot Chess Leader resigned to an office in 1924, Arnošt Vykoukal was elected abbot in the first ballot in September 1925. In this function he renewed the tradition of church services in the Old Church Slavonic language , which developed the cult of Slavic apostles and the worship services were again attended to more. By 1929 the community in Emaus had grown to 68 members, including 22 priests, 13 novices, four clerics and 29 lay brothers. From 1933 until the beginning of the war in 1939, liturgical weeks were held in which not only Czech but also foreign and Beuron theologians took part. The events followed a return to the roots of early Christianity . At the same time, Vykoukal was a proponent of the liturgical apostolate . This made the monastery an important center of liturgical reform and the renewal of Czech Catholicism.

After the " smashing of the rest of the Czech Republic " in 1939, the Emaus Abbey was occupied by the German army on July 16, 1942 . The room of Abbot Vykoukal was searched by the Gestapo because he was accused of "Czechizing" the monastery. Then the German Red Cross took its seat in the Emauskloster. Abbot Vykoukal tried to find a new home for his convent, but had to leave Prague and lived temporarily in Pilsen , where he was forbidden to contact the community. On August 7, 1942, he was deported to the Dachau concentration camp , where he died of dysentery on September 10, 1942 .

Before the end of the war in 1945, the monastery was badly damaged in an Allied air raid. In the same year it was rebuilt and a member of the Slavic Benedictine Congregation . While all other Bohemian Benedictine convents were incorporated into the Bohemian Congregation, the Emaus Monastery belonged to the Beuron Congregation from 1880 to 1945.

The monastery church of Maria among the Slavs today

In the course of the persecution of Christians in Czechoslovakia , the Emaus monastery was confiscated by the communists on April 27, 1950 and the convent was abolished. The monks fled to Italy, first to Foligno, then to Nursia . After the Velvet Revolution , Emaus was returned to the Benedictine order in 1990 and subordinated to Břevnov Abbey as a priory . Today a small community lives in the monastery again. Prior administrator was Abbot Präses Edmund Wagenhofer from 2010 to 2016 , since May 5, 2016 it has been Father Augustin Gazda, the prior of the Raigern Abbey , currently (2020) it is Archabbot Prokop Siostrzonek von Břevnov (Breunau) (Prague).


The monastery church with three naves of the same height and each with its own choir closure is reminiscent of preacher's churches with the lack of separation between the choir and nave and the striking lack of decoration and thus stands in stark contrast to the buildings of the Parlerian Gothic. The fresco wall painting in the cloister from around 1360 is of particular art historical importance .

The Beuron Benedictines redesigned the church and monastery in the style of the Beuron art school from 1888–1885 . The three leading Beuron monk-artists contributed to the design of the monastery: Desiderius Lenz , Gabriel Wüger and Lukas Steiner . These artists were also involved in the painting of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gabriel in Prague.

During a restoration in 1967, the architect František Maria Černý gave the church a modern two-pointed front as a compromise between the earlier high Gothic gable and the two baroque west towers that were destroyed in the air raids.

Magazines from the Emauskloster

  • St. Benedict's voices
  • St. Boniface
  • Sv. Vojtěch
  • Pax


  • Jaroslav Šebek: Abbots Alban Chess Manager OSB and Ernst Vykoukal OSB . In: The Benedictines and the Third Reich . Laacher Hefte No. 7, Maria Laach 2002, pp. 29–48
  • Inge Steinsträßer: Wanderer between the political powers. Father Nikolaus von Lutterotti OSB (1892–1955) and the Grüssau Abbey in Lower Silesia . Böhlau Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20429-7
  • Stefan Petzolt: Emaus. In: LThK . 3. Edition. Volume 3, special edition, Herder, Freiburg 2006, Sp. 621.
  • Stephan Hilpisch : Emaus. In: LThK . 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Herder, Freiburg 1959, Col. 844f.
  • Helena Čižinska: The Beuron Art School in the Abbey of Saint Gabriel in Prague. Ars Bohemica, Praha 1999, ISBN 80-902381-4-9 , pp. 74-80. (This chapter deals with the Beuron art in the Emauskloster.)

Web links

Commons : Emmauskloster  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ulrike Johanna Wagner-Höher: The Benedictines of St. Gabriel / Bertholdstein (1889–1919) , EOS Verlag St. Ottilien, ISBN 978-3-8306-7343-9 , pp. 31–33
  2. See Inge Steinsträßer, p. 77, footnote 32

Coordinates: 50 ° 4 ′ 20 ″  N , 14 ° 25 ′ 3 ″  E