St. Katharina Monastery (St. Gallen)

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St. Catherine Monastery
Cloister of St. Catherine
Inner courtyard with the cloister of St. Catherine

The St. Katharina Monastery is a former Dominican convent in the city of St. Gallen . Today the former monastery church and the cloister are preserved. The church was used by the city mission as a Reformed church for a long time, but was sold to the Wegelin private bank in 2007.

The name of the monastery goes back to the martyr Catherine of Alexandria .


Like other St. Catherine's monasteries, this one goes back to the religious movement that emerged at the turn of the 12th to the 13th century, when women united to lead a godly life without having to have strict religious ties. From a letter of protection issued by Abbot Konrad in 1228, we know that there were some worshipers in the city who felt like a congregation , but did not yet live in a household. In that year two citizens donated a farm on the Schwarzwasserbach (Irabach), which should serve as a permanent home for the women. These citizens were Bertoldus cocus (Kuchoimeister) and Ulrich Blarer, who was a benefactor of the Heilig-Geist-Hospital of St. Gallen. The donation was confirmed by Abbot Konrad. He placed the association under his protection and the patronage of Saints Gallus and Otmar . According to a document dated April 3, 1244, the next abbot of St. Gallen, Walter von Trauchberg, sent some of the women to Maggnau, where they founded a Cistercian convent . Among the women of the "pious house on the Brühl" was the master nobility. However, this does not mean the end of the convent in the city of St. Gallen, because as early as 1263 the next document that was received mentions a prioress and a sister convent on the Brüel. The office of prioress proves that the life of the sisters followed a rule of the order . In 1266 the community adopted the Augustinian rule. A Dominican from Constance was called as spiritual . On May 8, 1368, the church and the cemetery were consecrated , and on July 10, 1368, they joined the Dominican Order.

When the city fire on April 20, 1418, the monastery of St. Katharina and the church were affected, how much is not known. In the 15th century the sisters carried out reforms and in 1482 introduced the strict enclosure under the influence of the Dominican Johannes Scherl, who was born in Nuremberg . On September 20, the prioress and monastery chronicler Angela Varnbühler, a sister of the mayor Ulrich Varnbühler , solemnly announced the closing of the enclosure. On April 10, 1495 the church, the choir , the cemetery, the cloister and the sacristy were consecrated anew. The re-consecration cannot be associated with any major building project and is viewed as a belated affirmation of the inner renewal.

During the turmoil of the Reformation , access to the city - which had adopted the new faith - was facilitated by the fact that the convent had had city citizenship since 1368. As a result, on June 18, 1527, by order of the city council, “the tables and pictures of St. Qatarines were knocked over and broken”, and the clapper of the bell was also removed. The bell tower was even completely removed in 1528. Only a small part of the devices, pictures and books could be brought to the Notkersegg and Grimmenstein monasteries. After the great council had appointed four monastery bailiffs on August 7, the former reading master was replaced on February 27 by the reformer Dr. Christopf Schappeler was appointed as a preacher. He was charged with moving the nuns to the new teaching. The council decided on May 2, 1528 to open the monastery and to lift the enclosure. Since women were also forbidden from wearing the religious costume , many nuns transferred to other monasteries. But three nuns did not give up, and under the leadership of the former bookkeeper Regula Keller they took up the fight against the city. The sisters were even arrested at times. It was not until January 22, 1555 that the dispute was ended before the assembled messengers from the thirteen towns. The battle was lost for the sisters, and three sisters moved into the hermitage on the Nollberg, but this turned out to be inappropriate place, followed in Wil a new home was created. The foundation stone of the new monastery in Wil was laid on March 7, 1601, and the monastery church was consecrated on July 26, 1607.

Since the decision reserved in the arbitration of 1555 was not made by a council , the arbitration was annulled in 1594 and the monastery in St. Gallen came into the possession of the city. The city established a higher boys' school in the buildings, which is why the building was popularly known as the "boy monastery" (not to be confused with the actual monastery school in the monastery district). The library of Vadian ("Vadiana") also found a place here in 1615; it was previously housed in St. Mangen . In the church, services were also held in French from 1685 onwards; this was due to a foundation of the commercial corporation and was a result of the fact that the city took in a large number of French religious refugees ( Huguenots ). The school and library left the former monastery building in 1855 and moved into the new building of the canton school on Burggraben, which was built by Felix Wilhelm Kubly . As a result, the convent building came into private hands and was rebuilt accordingly. The church was rebuilt in 1884 but still serves as a place of worship. The cloister has been preserved and was restored in 1952.

Since 1855 the church has been used by the city mission of the free evangelical community, which held its services in the church. In the neighboring buildings, which also include the cloister, a soup kitchen and a second hand shop were housed in addition to the community rooms. The St. Gallen open access library was located on the upper floor until the beginning of 2015 (today part of the main post office library). Today it is the «Katharinen City Library» with offers for children and young people, teachers and educators. Due to a lack of space, the decision was made in 2007 to sell all buildings to the Wegelin private bank for CHF 2.3 million . This already owns the neighboring building and was particularly interested in the community rooms in order to be able to expand there. The church itself should be preserved as a cultural space for the urban community.

See also


  • Erwin Poeschel : The city of St. Gallen: first part. Volume 2 of the series The Art Monuments of the Canton of St. Gallen. Birkhäuser, Basel 1957, pp. 136–152.
  • Claudia Reeb, Dorothee Guggenheimer: St. Katharinen Monastery, St. Gallen. (Swiss Art Guide, No. 925, Series 93). Ed.  Society for Swiss Art History GSK. Bern 2013, ISBN 978-3-03797-083-6 .

Individual evidence

  1.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 108 kB)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  2. Scherl, Johannes OP. In: Author's Lexicon . Volume VIII, Col. 644 f.

Coordinates: 47 ° 25 ′ 37 "  N , 9 ° 22 ′ 36"  E ; CH1903:  746213  /  254710