Monastery library

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Monastery library in the Herzogenburg Abbey

A monastery library in the broader sense is any library maintained by a monastery. However, the term is often used to refer to a medieval library .

Meaning and history

The medieval monastery libraries are not only responsible for the transmission of the intellectual heritage of the Middle Ages , but also for the remains of ancient Latin literature. The core inventory of every monastery library was the Bible and the works of the church fathers , including related commentaries, as well as the religious rules and sermon materials. The Reformation led in many parts of Germany to the dissolution of the monastery libraries and transfer of stocks in court, parish council or libraries, sometimes in university libraries .

In Catholic territories, the monastery libraries once again experienced a great boom through the Counter Reformation and during the Baroque . In particular, southern German and Austrian Benedictine abbeys (e.g. Zwiefalten , Weingarten , St. Gallen , Melk , Admont ) were able to attract the possession of small monasteries that had been scattered during the Thirty Years' War, to reorganize them systematically and to express their educational requirements through representative library halls. It was not until the secularization enforced by Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century ( Reichsdeputationshauptschluss , 25 February 1803 ) that most of the monastery libraries passed into state hands (e.g. Bavarian State Library ). In Switzerland, in the 19th century, a number of monastery libraries were transferred to the cantonal libraries , which are still assigned their regional collection mandate to this day (e.g. the monastery libraries of Muri and Wettingen into the Aargau canton library and the monastery libraries of Fischingen , Ittingen , Kreuzlingen and St. Katharinental in the Cantonal Library of Thurgau ). They were mainly preserved in Austria .

Modern monastery libraries are special theological libraries .

The largest monastery library in the world is located in Admont Abbey .


A number of religious orders show the importance of high-quality architectural furnishings in monastery libraries, especially during the Baroque period .

List of old monastery libraries of significant art history


Library hall of Schussenried Abbey
Library hall of the Wiblingen Monastery
Main library of Lilienfeld Abbey







Czech Republic



  • Adriani, Gert: The late baroque monastery libraries in Austria and southern Germany. Addition to the title: a contribution to the history of architecture and art in the 17th and 18th centuries, Graz, Vienna, Verlag Styria, 1935, also a dissertation at the University of Jena, 1933
  • Hepperger, Andreas : Monastery Libraries in Austria and the "Digital Heritage" Policy of Europe , Thesis, Danube University Krems, Master Thesis, 2003, PDF (1.12 MB)
  • Klemens Löffler : German monastery libraries. 2nd Edition. Schroeder, Bonn / Leipzig 1922.
  • Stefanie Seidel: The travel dictionary libraries. The most beautiful rooms, the most valuable collections in Germany, Austria, Switzerland . Callwey 1995.

Web links

Commons : Monastic libraries  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Monastery library  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations