Einsiedeln Monastery

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Einsiedeln Monastery
Basic data
Country Switzerland
Ecclesiastical province Immediate
Dept Urban Federer OSB
Dept. Emeritus Martin Werlen OSB
founding 10th century
surface 1 km²
Parishes 1 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Residents 70 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Catholics 70 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
proportion of 100%
Religious priest 48 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Catholics per priest 1
Friars 68 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Religious sisters 82 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
rite Roman rite
Liturgical language German / Latin
cathedral Abbey and Cathedral Church of the Assumption of Mary and St. Mauritius
Website www.kloster-einsiedeln.ch
Front of the monastery church
"The Princely Monastery of Einsidlen". View of the old monastery building (1630)
Einsiedeln , steel engraving by Streb (around 1850)
Einsiedeln Monastery (2005)
Chapel of Grace (around 1900)
Kneeling nobleman in front of the Black Madonna of Einsiedeln (1781)

The Einsiedeln Monastery (Latin Abbatia territorialis Sanctissimae Virginis Mariae Einsiedlensis ) with its departments and cathedral church of the Assumption and St. Mauritius is a exemte Benedictine abbey in the town of Einsiedeln in the canton of Schwyz . The abbey is the largest pilgrimage site in Switzerland and an important stop on the Camino de Santiago . The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln in the Chapel of Mercy attracts around 800,000 pilgrims and tourists every year. The community of Benedictine monks has around 60 members. The monastery is not part of a diocese , but has the status of a territorial abbey .

The Benedictine convent Fahr near Zurich has been part of Einsiedeln Abbey since it was founded in 1130 . This means that the abbot of Einsiedeln is also that of the Fahr Monastery. Together they form the world's only remaining double monastery in the Benedictine order .


From the Meinrad cell to the imperial abbey

In 828 the Benedictine Meinrad retired from the Reichenau monastery as a hermit on the Etzel Pass . In 835 he built a new hermitage with a small chapel in a remote place . This place was a little further south, in the middle of the dark forest. According to legend, Meinrad was visited there by people who asked for his advice and consolation and gave him gifts in return. On January 21, 861, he is said to have been ambushed and murdered by tramps. His body was buried on the Reichenau, the heart buried on the Etzel.

Over 40 years later, the Meinradszelle again became a magnet for hermits. Among them was Benno , who was Bishop of Metz for a short time . They settled near the cell in 906 and cleared the area. In 934 the hermits were combined into a Benedictine monastery by Eberhard , a provost from Strasbourg . Eberhard, the first abbot, had his own people who made up the first population of the high valley.

The founding of the monastery was confirmed on October 27, 947 by King Otto I and was accompanied by the usual donation from land. Otto I's donation also included the island of Ufenau , which at that time belonged to the Säckingen women's monastery . The women's monastery was compensated for it with other possessions. Einsiedeln Abbey was also given free election and immunity. In 948 the first abbey church was consecrated in honor of Mary and Saint Mauritius.

High and late Middle Ages

During his five-week stay in Zurich on September 2, 1018, Emperor Heinrich II , at the request of Abbot Wirund, gave the monastery the use of the Dark Forest around the abbey. As a patron of the church and the monasteries, he had already confirmed the traditional possessions and immunity of the monastery on January 5th of the same year in his palace in Frankfurt . The supervision, including the representation of the monastery in legal matters, was carried out by a patron. These included the Nellenburgers , the lords of Uster and von Rapperswil. Eventually these lucrative rights passed to the Habsburgs .

After the first monastery fire in 1029, a three-aisled basilica with a crypt was built from 1031 to 1039 , which provided the basic shape for the later Baroque building. The foundation stone for the new building was laid on May 10, 1031. A second basilica ( Lower Minster ) was built over the walled courtyard in 1230.

Border disputes with the Schwyzers have been known since 1114, and these were usually decided in favor of the monastery at court courts. In 1308, after the death of the Habsburg King Albrecht I , the disputes increased again significantly. In 1314 the monastery was conquered and plundered by Schwyz farmers in the so-called Marchenstreit . The Duke of Austria, Leopold I , who was the guardian of Einsiedeln Abbey, then attacked the Central Swiss, but was defeated by them in the Battle of Morgarten in 1315 . The conflict could not be resolved until 1350. The monastery then lost a considerable part of its land.

After a fire in 1465, the lower cathedral was vaulted. In 1509 and 1577 the church was on fire again.

Early modern age

Huldrych Zwingli was employed as a folk priest in the monastery from 1516 to 1518 . The last monk left the monastery in 1525, the abbot of the monastery had to resign on July 20, 1526 - Einsiedeln monastery was extinct. The Schwyz then appointed a new abbot, Ludwig II. Blarer von Wartensee, who was not recognized as lawful by Rome until 1533. He accepted the first commoners into the monastery and thus revived it.

The choir and the confessional church were built between 1674 and 1684 under the direction of the architect Hans Jörg Kuen . The baroque monastery was built from 1674 to 1735 as a completely new building in three stages according to the plans of Caspar Moosbrugger . On March 31, 1704, the foundation stone for the new monastery was laid. His brother, the builder Johann Moosbrugger , was commissioned with the construction work. The church was consecrated on May 3, 1735 under Abbot Nikolaus Imfeld. In the 1770 / 1780s a number of Einsiedeln conventuals showed themselves to be open to various concerns of the Catholic Enlightenment and, for example, campaigned for improvements in the primary school system and for the improvement of general welfare. Cultivating ecumenical relationships was also important to them.

19th and 20th centuries

When the French reached Einsiedeln in May 1798, all the inhabitants of the monastery fled. The Chapel of Mercy was destroyed by the occupiers, but the miraculous image was saved by the monks, led by the later abbot Konrad Tanner . On September 17 of the same year the empty pen was declared state property. The clergy received the monastery back on February 19, 1803 through the so-called mediation act . The Gnadenkapelle was rebuilt in the classical style from 1815-1817 with preserved parts of the old structure.

Over the centuries, monks from Einsiedeln founded countless daughter monasteries, including St. Meinrad (Indiana / USA) in 1854 and Los Toldos (Argentina) in 1948 , which in turn established new ones.


It is documented that Marien pilgrimages to Einsiedeln have been taking place since the 14th century . During the late Middle Ages , pilgrims even came from northern Germany and the Netherlands. The monastery only experienced a decline in the flow of pilgrims during the Reformation; in the second half of the 16th century, Einsiedeln once again became the religious center of the Swiss Catholics.

The Einsiedeln Abbey Church is not just a monastery church, it is also a parish church and a pilgrimage church.

Hermit Our Lady

The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln is a late Gothic miraculous image from the middle of the 15th century. It replaced the original Romanesque miraculous image, which was destroyed in the fire of 1465. The black skin color comes from the soot of the candles and lamps that burned in front of the figure. When the statue was restored in Austria in 1803, the artist exposed the original paint and painted the figure again flesh-colored. This change met with displeasure among the population and so the Madonna was painted black. At the beginning of the 17th century the statue was given a bell-shaped Spanish robe . It is still changed today according to the church year .

Angel consecration legend

On September 14, 948, Christ is said to have consecrated the chapel on the site of the Meinradszelle, accompanied by saints and angels. This legend formed the core of the pilgrimage that began. Most pilgrims visited Einsiedeln for the feast of the consecration of the angels . If September 14th fell on a Sunday, a 14-day great consecration of angels was celebrated. About 150,000 pilgrim signs were sold in 1466 .

Monastery complex

The closed baroque monastery complex, as it still appears today, was built from 1703 when Abbot Maurus von Roll laid the foundation stone for the new monastery complex according to the plans of the hermit lay brother and architect Caspar Moosbrugger from the Vorarlberg building school .

On September 23, 2012, the canton Schwyz accepted a commitment credit of 8 million Swiss francs for restoration work between 2013 and 2022 at the cantonal referendum “Loan for the restoration work in Einsiedeln Abbey” .

Pen library

Pen library
Royal stables, view from the east
Einsiedeln Monastery

See also: Codex Einsidlensis

The monastery library is rich in old books: it comprises around 230,000 printed books, 1230 manuscripts and 1040 volumes of incunabula and early prints. 500 to 800 books are added every year.

The library was founded in 934. The monastery housed its own writing school at the end of the 10th century; 64 manuscripts from this period are still preserved today. The monastery received its own printing press in 1664, in which over a thousand titles had been published by 1798. The library holdings were kept in the monastery cellars for a long time, so they survived the numerous fires in the monastery unscathed. In 1602, the abbot Augustin I. Hofmann built his own library building; the magnificent large baroque hall was built between 1738 and 1740. In 1998 the library was last restored.


The baroque stables of the monastery, built in 1765, are home to the oldest still existing stud in Europe, which began in the 15th century. The bred horses, the Cavalli della Madonna , are warm-blooded animals. The first handwritten reference to horse breeding can be found in the award of rights on February 24, 1064 by King Henry IV. The continued existence of horse breeding seems to be endangered today.


In the 14th century, a building ban was issued for the area directly in front of the monastery, which should prevent village fires from spreading. From 1745 to 1747, the monastery square was built in its current form according to plans by the Milanese architect Paolo Federico Bianchi under the supervision of the Bregenz master builder Johannes Rueff. The statues of Otto the Great and Heinrich II line the staircase. In the center of the square is the "Liebfrauenbrunnen" from 1747 with a gilded statue of Mary. On both sides of the square there are semicircular arcades with devotional shops . Behind it rises the mighty baroque monastery front with the two 60 m high towers in their middle, framed by three-storey convent wings.

The square is the scene and venue of the mystery play The Great World Theater , from 1924 to 1992 in the Eichendorf version by Pedro Calderón de la Barca , then in a version by Thomas Hürlimann . After the performance in 2007, the work was performed again in 2013. The piece by Tim Krohn was staged by director Beat Fäh .

Monastery church

Nave (2009)
Exterior view (Advent 2010)
Main square and monastery during the Christmas market (2019)

The central structure of the monastery is the double-towered collegiate church, which was built between 1719 and its consecration in 1735 and was also designed by Caspar Moosbrugger. It is considered the most important baroque church in Switzerland.


The east-facing building houses the Mercy Chapel with the Black Madonna in the western entrance area. The ceiling paintings were created by the Asam brothers in 1724–1726 . Between 1749 and 1751, based on a project by Giovanni Antonio Torricelli from Lugano , the altar sculptor Domenico Pozzi from Milan built the main altar. The life-size figures made of stucco on the side altars come from Diego Carlone from Scaria, now part of Lanzo d'Intelvi (I) near the Swiss border. The oil paintings Death of St. Benedict and The Mother of God Appear to St. Meinrad were created by his brother Carlo Carlone. Giacomo Neuroni, stucco sculptor from Lugano, worked with his brother Pietro in the choir of the collegiate church. The extensive restoration of the church between 1975 and 2001 attempted to restore the impression of the original baroque state, which had been partially falsified by earlier renovations.


There are three organs in the church : The choir organ originally dates from 1754 and was last restored in the 1980s. The "Marienorgel" was rebuilt in 1988 according to old register templates from the 18th century, the "Mauritiusorgel" was built in 1994. Both of the latter instruments come from the Swiss company Mathis Orgelbau (Näfels).

Mauritius organ

The Mauritius organ stands on the epistle side and was rebuilt in 1994 in the existing baroque case. It has 62 registers on four manuals and a pedal , the sound of the disposition is based on organs from the early Romantic period. The playing and stop actions are mechanical.

I main work C – a 3
1. Principal doux 16 ′
2. Montre 8th'
3. Flûte harmonique 8th'
4th Bourdon 8th'
5. Fifth 5 13
6th Prestant 4 ′
7th Flute 4 ′
8th. Tierce 3 15
9. Fifth 2 23
10. Duplicate 2 ′
11. Fittings IV-VI 2 ′
12. Cornet V 8th'
13. Bombard 16 ′
14th Trumpets 8th'
15th Clairon 4 ′
II Positive C – a 3
16. Principal 8th'
17th Flûte douce 8th'
18th Viol 8th'
19th Octave 4 ′
20th Flute 4 ′
21st Nazard 2 23
22nd Octave 2 ′
23. Quarte de Nazard 2 ′
24. Tierce 1 35
25th Plein-jeu 2 23
26th Cymbals 1'
27. Basson 16 ′
28. Trumpets 8th'
29 Cromorne 8th'
III Swell C – a 3
30th Bourdon 16 ′
31. Cor de nuit 8th'
32. Aeoline 8th'
33. Voix céleste 8th'
34. Prestant 4 ′
35. Flûte octaviante 4 ′
36. Salicet 4 ′
37. Fifth 2 23
38. Octavine 2 ′
39. Piccolo 1'
40. Trompette harmonique 8th'
41. Basson-Hautbois 8th'
42. Voix humaine 8th'
43. Clairon 4 ′
IV Rückpositiv C – a 3
44. Pommer 8th'
45. flute 4 ′
46. Schwiegel 2 ′
47. Fifth 1 13
48. Octave 1'
49. Cornetto III 2 23
50. shelf 8th'
Pedal C – g 1
51. Principal 16 ′
52. Soubasse 16 ′
53. Quintuplets 16 ′
54. Fifth 10 23
55. Octave 8th'
56. Flute 8th'
57. violoncello 8th'
58. Prestant 4 ′
59. Mixture 4 ′
60. Bombard 16 ′
61. Basson 16 ′
62. Trumpets 8th'
  • Pairing :
    • Normal coupling: II / I, III / I, III / II, I / P, II / P, III / P
    • Sub-octave coupling: III / I
    • Super octave coupling: III / P
  • Playing aids : setter system

Marian organ

The Marien organ on the gospel side was rebuilt in 1988 as a baroque organ with 34 registers. The instrument has mechanical action.

I main work C – a 3
1. Principal grande 16 ′
2. Principal 8th'
3. Suavial (from 0 ) 8th'
4th Flûte de Chasse 8th'
5. Viola di gamba 8th'
6th Octav 4 ′
7th Flûte à Bec 4 ′
8th. Quint 3 ′
9. Super octave 2 ′
10. Mixture IV-VI 2 ′
11. Cymbals III-IV 1'
12. Cornet V 8th'
13. bassoon 16 ′
14th Trumpets 8th'
II Rückpositiv C – a 3
15th Copal 8th'
16. Praestant 4 ′
17th Dulcian 4 ′
18th Octav 2 ′
19th Forest flute 2 ′
20th Larigot 1 13
21st Sexquialtera III 1 13
22nd Mixture III 1'
23. Vox humana 8th'
Pedal C – f 1
24. Violon bass 16 ′
25th Sub bass 16 ′
26th Octav 8th'
27. violoncello 8th'
28. Bourdon 8th'
29 Quint 6 ′
30th Octav 4 ′
31. Cornet IV 2 23
32. Bombard 16 ′
33. Tromba 8th'
34. Clarino 4 ′

Choir organ

Today's choir organ goes back to an instrument that was built by Viktor Ferdinand Bossard in 1754. This was rebuilt, re-intoned, expanded and rearranged several times in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The organ was last restored by the Mathis Orgelbau company between 1982 and 1985 and reconstructed to the state it was in after the restoration by Franz Anton Kiene in 1827. The playing and stop actions are mechanical.

I main work C – f 3
1. Bourdon 16 ′
2. Principal 8th'
3. Coppel 8th'
4th Flûte cuspito 8th'
5. Octava 4 ′
6th flute 4 ′
7th Piffaro 4 ′
8th. Duplicate 2 ′
9. mixture 2 ′
10. Sex quialter 1 13
11. Cornetto 2 23
12. Trumpets 8th'
II positive C – f 3
13. Dolcian 8th'
14th Flûte douce 8th'
15th Quintads 8th'
16. Fugara 4 ′
17th Flûte d'amour 4 ′
18th Super octave 2 ′
19th Fittings 1 13
20th Fagot-Vox humana 8th'
Pedal C – h 0
21st Violone 16 ′
22nd Sub bass 16 ′
23. Principal bass 8th'
24. Violon bass 8th'
25th Quintbass 6 ′
26th Octavbass 4 ′
27. Choral bass 4 ′
28. Bombard 16 ′
29 Trompon 8th'


The monastery church in Einsiedeln has a collection of bells that traditionally includes 12 bells. The big main bell in the two towers at the main facade consists of four bells from different Lorraine foundries. Four more bells were melted down in 1941, as they did not go with it from what was then understood and some had already cracked. These were replaced by new casts of better quality from the Rüetschi company in Aarau . This means that Einsiedeln has a sound that is characteristically unique in Switzerland. On high holidays, the main chime is complemented by the four small bells of the two roof turrets that are still in place . On the monastery square , however, only those of the roof rider of the Gnadenkapelle and the big bells in the two main towers can be heard. The monastery bells are currently being looked after by the Muff company from Triengen . The quarter of an hour is struck by two separate bells, the hours strikes bell 2 with the second bell.

Dates of bells

Main bell

The big bell hangs separately in the right tower of the main facade, the remaining 7 in the left.

No. Surname Chime Weight Caster Casting year
1 Trinity Bell Ges ° 5'825 kg Simon Michelin, Honoré Rosier, Lorraine 1637
2 Our Lady Bell B ° H. Rosier, F. Guiot, J. Reichardus, Lorraine 1636
3 Apostle bell of' Honoré Rosier, Lorraine 1637
4th St. Agatha Bell it' H. Rüetschi AG, Aarau 1941
5 All Saints Day Bell ges' H. Rüetschi AG, Aarau 1941
6th St. Benedict's and Meinrads bell (Salveglocke) as' H. Rüetschi AG, Aarau 1941
7th Guardian angel bell b ' H. Rüetschi AG, Aarau 1941
8th Small volley bell of'' Honoré Rosier, Lorraine 1637

In the ridge to the chapel of grace

The chapel of grace has its own small bell.

No. Surname Chime Weight Caster Casting year
I. ges '' H. Rüetschi AG, Aarau 1933
II Angel bells b '' Jakob Keller, Zurich 1855

In the ridge above the choir

No. Surname Chime Weight Caster Casting year
I. it'' H. Rüetschi and Co., Aarau 1902
II ges '' H. Rüetschi and Co., Aarau 1902


As a grammar school in the canton of Schwyz (external) and a general humanistic grammar school (internal), the Einsiedeln Abbey School has taken on an important educational mandate to this day and trains the next generation in its own theological school. The Alumni Scholae Einsidlensis is the alumni organization of the Einsiedeln Abbey School founded in 2005, which organizes an alumni network for graduates and teachers of the Einsiedeln Abbey School based on the model of leading universities . The association had around 700 members in spring 2010.

In addition to horse breeding, viticulture, wood processing and the preservation of numerous cultural assets (codices, buildings), the monastery school is well known, which was under the direction of Father Roman Bannwart for a long time . The "Einsiedler Salve Regina " is the only five-part version of this liturgical chant.

In recent years, the monastery has repeatedly attracted attention through various innovative offers, for example through a volunteer service during the summer for 18 to 25-year-old men or through a modern paper chase on the monastery grounds called "Monkstrail", in which the participants independently discover the world of the hermit monks. Most recently, at the end of March 2018, it launched the “Klosterzeit” project, which offers men between the ages of 18 and early 30 the opportunity to do a 6 to 12 month volunteer assignment in various Benedictine monasteries around the world.

Monastery properties

Coat of arms of the Einsiedeln monastery

The monastery of Einsiedeln, along with other lands, has belonged to the Fahr monastery since 1130 (with which it forms a double monastery ). The island of Ufenau in Lake Zurich and the headland of Endingen in Rapperswil , on which the hermit's house (built around 981 and owned by hermits) and the Capuchin monastery and its cloister garden are located , have been other possessions since 965 . The monastery also owns the Werd monastery , which is leased to the Franciscans (OFM) . Einsiedeln Abbey is the largest private landowner in Switzerland. It owns around 2,140 hectares of land in five cantons (Schwyz, Aargau, Zurich, Thurgau and St. Gallen). In Austria there is the Propstei Sankt Gerold and the parish church of St. Antonius Abbot in Düns , both in the area of Walser communities in Vorarlberg . The Gottschalkenberg and Schloss Sonnenberg used to be owned by the monastery.

Famous pepole

See also

Film documentaries


  • Hanna Böck: Einsiedeln. The monastery and its history. Artemis Verlag, Zurich / Munich 1989, ISBN 3-7608-1013-6 .
  • Christoph Baumgartner, Daniel Bitterli, Sebastian Brändli u. a .; Peter Niederhäuser, Andreas Meyerhans (ed.): Abbots, officials, archivists. Zurich and Einsiedeln Abbey (= communications from the Antiquarian Society in Zurich . Volume 76). Chronos, Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-0340-0940-9 .
  • Bruno Greis: Einsiedeln monastery, portrait of a Benedictine abbey. Photographed by Werner Richner. Benziger Verlag, Solothurn / Düsseldorf 1994, ISBN 978-3-545-34117-3 .
  • Thomas Fässler: Of Mothers, Daughters, and Growing Up. The Changing Ties between the Monastery Einsiedeln and St. Meinrad Since 1850. In: Swiss American Historical Society Review. 52/3, 2016, pp. 59-68.
  • Thomas Fässler: New beginnings and resistance. Einsiedeln Monastery in the area of ​​tension between the Baroque, Enlightenment and Revolution. Egg 2019.
  • Hagen Keller : Einsiedeln Abbey in Ottonian Swabia. Freiburg im Breisgau 1964.
  • Andreas Kränzle, Andreas Meyerhans, Bettina Mosca-Rau (eds.): Of good deeds and golden bulls. Stories from the archive and music library of Einsiedeln Abbey. Einsiedeln 2012, ISBN 978-3-9524034-0-2 .
  • Kilian Müller: On the history of the pilgrimage Maria Einsiedeln and the Apostolic Mission in Benrath . Tischler & Schäffer, Benrath 1927. ( Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf )
  • Anja Buschow Oechslin, Werner Oechslin: The art monuments of the canton Schwyz. New edition III.I. Einsiedeln I: The Benedictine monastery in Einsiedeln. (= Art Monuments of Switzerland. Volume 100). Published by the Society for Swiss Art History , Bern 2003, ISBN 3-906131-74-2 .
  • Swiss National Museum (ed.): Einsiedeln Monastery. Pilgrims for 1000 years. Hatje Cantz, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-7757-4228-3 .

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hanna Böck: Einsiedeln. The monastery and its history. Pp. 13-14.
  2. ^ Hanna Böck: Einsiedeln. The monastery and its history. P. 23.
  3. Joachim Salzgeber: On September 2, 1018, Heinrich II gave the monastery of Einsiedeln the Dark Forest. In: Maria Einsiedeln. Volume 99, 1994, pp. 149-151.
  4. MG. DD. 3, 482 where. 378.
  5. ^ Aegidius Tschudi: Chronicon Helveticum.
  6. Thomas Fässler: Awakening and Resistance. Einsiedeln Monastery in the area of ​​tension between the Baroque, Enlightenment and Revolution. Egg 2019.
  7. Thomas Fässler: Of Mothers, Daughters, and Growing Up. The Changing Ties between the Monastery Einsiedeln and St. Meinrad Since 1850 . In: Swiss American Historical Society Review . tape 52 , no. 3 , 2016, p. 59-68 .
  8. «In 1311 it is reported that the people from Schwyz came to Einsiedeln with the cross.» In: The Black Mother of God of Einsiedeln. 2005, p. 11.
  9. Bruno Greis, Werner Richner: op. Cit. Inscription on photograph 26 about pilgrimage and pastoral care.
  10. Torricelli, Giovanni Antonio. In: Sikart
  11. Pozzi, Domenico. In: Sikart , accessed January 17, 2016.
  12. ^ Neuroni, Giacomo. In: Sikart , accessed January 18, 2016.
  13. ^ Description of the Mauritius organ work list by Mathis Orgelbau, accessed on December 14, 2015.
  14. Catalog raisonné on Mathis Orgelbau's website, accessed on December 14, 2015.
  15. Comprehensive information on the building history and reconstruction of the choir organ from 1754 on the Mathis Orgelbau website, accessed on December 14, 2015.
  16. Traineeship at Einsiedeln Monastery
  17. Monkstrail In: monkstrail.ch , accessed on September 25, 2017.
  18. Einsiedeln on the project website, accessed on September 16, 2018.

Coordinates: 47 ° 7 ′ 36 "  N , 8 ° 45 ′ 7"  E ; CH1903:  six hundred ninety-nine thousand six hundred and forty  /  220349