Schönau Monastery (Gemünden am Main)

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Schoenau Monastery

The monastery Schoenau is a convent of Friars Minor ( Franciscans -Konventualen) in the parish village of Schonau in the Frankish community Gemünden am Main in the diocese of Wuerzburg .


The monastery consecrated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary was founded in 1189 by Philipp von Thüngen zu Heßlar , Ministerialer, together with Gottfried von Pisemberg , Bishop of Würzburg. Until the middle of the 16th century, mostly aristocratic Cistercian women lived here , especially from the family of the Counts of Rieneck . After initial difficulties with the initial settlement, a permanent settlement succeeded partly from neighboring Cistercian monasteries, especially through the intervention of the Adelheid von Rieneck .

During the Second Margrave War , the monastery, which had previously been affected by the Peasants' War and the Reformation, was looted in 1553. The last abbess Veronika Geyer von Giebelstadt gave up in 1564 and handed the property back to the Würzburg prince-bishop Friedrich von Wirsberg .

The monastery was closed until 1699.

It experienced a revitalization in 1699, when the minorite brother Kilian Stauffer acquired the ruinous buildings of Würzburg in exchange for other properties for resettlement. Exterior construction and furnishings were renewed in the baroque style; this shape is essentially preserved to this day. In 1704 the bones of two catacomb saints named Viktor and Antonin were transferred from Rome to Schönau and buried here; these catacomb saints were a special attraction in the 18th century and gave rise to pilgrimages.

During the Napoleonic War in 1796, the monastery was plundered a second time. It was to be dissolved in 1803 in the course of secularization . However, the monks did not leave the monastery entirely in 1803; In the middle of the 19th century, Totnan Schech last held the position alone, very old.

By a decree of Ludwig I of Bavaria , the monastery got its third chance in 1843 and could be repopulated with further Minorites. At the moment (as of 2013) there are still two fathers and one brother on site who look after the monastery church and help out in neighboring parishes and communities.

Building history

Only the monastery church has been preserved from the historical buildings - mainly in the design by Kilian Stauffer.

First construction

It is not known whether there are still remnants of the foundations of 1189 in today's monastery church.

Larger construction expenditures are documented for this first building after 1250 and proven by art-historical findings. The bend in the axis between the nave and the drawn-in long choir points to a complicated building history. There are certain similarities with the church of the former Himmelspforten monastery near Würzburg, which is not surprising given the resettlement of Schönau in the middle of the 13th century by nuns there.

The monastery chronicle allows a reconstruction, according to which the stone substructure of the roof ridge stood in the middle of the nave. This was followed to the west by the lower church with the nuns' sepulture, above the prayer choir. For women's monasteries, the building scheme that was binding for male monasteries had been adopted. Accordingly, the sacristy and chapter house were located on the east wing of the cloister; above the dormitory of the sisters.

The storage cellar and kitchen were in the west wing, the warming room and refectory (possibly also the abbess's rooms) were probably in the south wing. After the abbey was closed, the choir was separated from the nave by a wall in order to continue to serve the worship service.

Second building

Brother Kilian Stauffer had all fixtures removed from the nave during the reconstruction in 1700. The outer walls were raised by about 1.8 m. The nave and two yokes of the choir were vaulted. The minorite and architect Ulrich Beer (1655–1714), from a famous Vorarlberg master builder family, also worked on the construction of the monastery. Vaults from the previous building were included in the convent. The construction work extended until the church was consecrated on July 27, 1710.

In 1712, the two yokes of the Thüngenschen grave place were supplemented by another, for use as a winter choir and sacristy. However, the epitaphs and spoils of the existing building were changed. In 1725 a choir yoke (summer choir) was set up behind the high altar. This choir with its Gothic ribbed vaults was preserved from around 1270/80.


The historic convent buildings have not been preserved.

In 1975, the Würzburg architect Walter Schilling began the new construction of the convent, which is attached to the north side of the church with three wings. In 2004 a simple pilgrimage home was built.


The baroque interior of the monastery church mainly dates from the time of Kilian Stauffer. A few pieces of equipment from the first building are kept - not publicly accessible - in the former summer choir (monk choir of the convent).

The baroque furnishings of the church are particularly noteworthy

  • the high altar with four columns made of red and gray stucco marble, which fills the entire choir wall (Kilian Stauffer, 1708). In the middle is the patronage image of Maria Immacolata , in typical baroque iconography (standing on the crescent moon, surrounded by a halo, flanked by angels). On the side, Francis of Assisi and Bonaventure and above the Holy Trinity are depicted.
  • two side altars (1703/04) with paintings ascribed to Oswald Ongher , depicting Antonius of Padua and Valentinus .
  • the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows (1710) made of black and gray stucco marble with a Pietà sculpture of southern German or Swiss provenance.
  • a striking pulpit made of red stucco marble. Gilded acanthus tendrils are their eye-catchers. The Good Shepherd as a crowning figure is an ingredient from 1950.
  • a way of the cross by Georg Sebastian Urlaub , possibly the oldest recorded inner way of the cross in the diocese. The motifs are based on a similar Way of the Cross by Domenico Tiepolo , which he created for San Polo in Venice.

Other pictures on the walls of the nave with scenes from the life of Jesus come from Urlaub.

In the former summer choir, which can only be accessed with a guided tour by appointment, there is another stucco marble altar by Kilian Staufer (1725) with sculptures by an unknown Main Franconian sculptor ( Anna selbdritt and Saint Wolfgang ) as well as other altarpieces by Georg Sebastian Urlaub ( Wendelinus , Johannes Nepomuk , Odilia and Apollonia of Alexandria ).

The rear walls of the choir stalls (Kilian Stauffer, 1725) bear half-length portraits of Friars Minor from the 16th to 18th centuries (also painted by Urlaub).

In particular, three late Gothic sculptures from the middle shrine of the first high altar are kept in this room: John the Evangelist, the Mother of God Mary with Child and John the Baptist come from a workshop in Main Franconia in the successor of Tilman Riemenschneider . The sandstone epitaph of Anna von Rieneck (14th century) also comes from the first building of the monastery church.


  • Franciscan Minorite Church in Schönau an der Saale. 5th edition. Schnell Kunstführer No. 588, 2006, ISBN 3-7954-4363-6 .

Web links

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

Coordinates: 50 ° 4 ′ 36.1 ″  N , 9 ° 43 ′ 14.9 ″  E