Kornelimünster Imperial Abbey

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Kornelimünster Imperial Abbey

The Kornelimünster Abbey was an abbey of Benedictine in the same locality Kornelimünster near Aachen , which consisted 814-1802.


The territory of the Imperial Abbey of Kornelimünster around 1789

The Kornelimünster Abbey was founded around 814 by Benedict von Aniane (750-821) and Louis the Pious as Monasterium ad Indam and was initially known as Monasterium Salvatoris ad Indam - "Redeemer Monastery on the Inde " - or Inda for short . Benedict von Aniane came from the Visigothic nobility of southern France, was brought up at the court of King Pippin , turned to monastic life after a short time in royal service and founded a monastery in Aniane near Montpellier around 779 . Through this monastery, Benedict von Aniane also gained great influence with Ludwig the Pious, son and successor of Charlemagne as emperor of the Frankish Empire . Benedict followed Ludwig to the Aachen court, where he acted as an advisor to the Aachen reform synods (816–818). The Kornelimünster Monastery, founded at this time, was based on the Regula Benedicti , the rule of Benedict of Nursia, as a model for the renewal of monasticism and monasticism in the Frankish Empire in order to unify the very different monastic traditions that had emerged over the centuries.

The reforms of Benedict, however, also provoked resistance, which increased after his death and ultimately led to Benedict enjoying limited veneration at best in his homeland in the south of France. Kornelimünster could therefore not maintain its initial importance after the death of the monastery founder and remained a rather modest monastery.

The relics

However, Emperor Ludwig the Pious had given Benedict of Aniane three relics , which originally came from the reliquary treasure of the Aachen Palatine Chapel : the apron ( linteum Domini ), which, according to tradition, Jesus tied around himself to wash the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper , a grave cloth ( sindon munda ), which, according to ancient tradition, was used at the entombment and on which the body of Jesus is said to have been laid in the grave, and the sweatcloth (sudarium domini), which is said to be the cloth that wrapped around the head of Jesus and that Peter and John folded up should have found in the empty tomb of Jesus. In 875, however, the shroud was divided because Charles the Bald needed half of the shroud to found a monastery in Compiègne. In return, the monastery received the skull relic of Pope Cornelius and that of Saint Cyprianus . The veneration of Pope Cornelius († 253) led to a change of patronage and name from the 12th century: The monastery was named Monasterium Sancti Cornelii ad Indam , from which the current place name Kornelimünster is derived.

These reliquary treasures ultimately led Kornelimünster to become the destination of a special pilgrimage since the 14th century, the so-called Kornelimünster sanctuary , which in the Middle Ages was as important as the pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela together with the sanctuary to Aachen.

The monastery experienced an eventful history in around 1000 years. The abbey church was destroyed by Normans in 881 and under Emperor Otto III. rebuilt and expanded. Under the Ottonians, the abbot of the monastery was raised to the rank of imperial prince and the abbey was given complete immunity as well as imperial immediacy , market and minting rights. The monastery area bordered the Duchy of Limburg in the southwest , the Duchy of Jülich in the west and east and the Aachen Empire in the north .

As an imperial abbey, the monastery was only subject to the emperor and ruled over a closed territory ( Münsterländchen ). The counts and dukes of Jülich had the umbrella bailiwick . In the early modern period it belonged to the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Imperial Circle and the Rhenish Imperial Prelate College . The economic basis of the abbey formed the pasture, agriculture and forestry as well as the iron and limestone industry connected with the use of water power. The holdings amounted to about 10,000 hectares in 1798.

In 1310 the abbey was destroyed by citizens of the imperial city of Aachen, who wanted to take revenge on the abbot Reinaldus for his support of the Count of Jülich in the fight against Aachen. However, the Aacheners were obliged to pay a heavy fine, which allowed the monastery and the abbey church to be rebuilt.

Due to the growing number of pilgrims, the abbey church had to be enlarged in the 15th and 16th centuries. However, the monastery itself could not keep up with the importance of Kornelimünster as a place of pilgrimage and lost its importance. The prosperity of the 18th century, which made it possible to rebuild the monastery and expand the abbey church, did nothing to change this. From 1721 to 1728 the abbey building was rebuilt as a three-wing baroque complex. In 1763 the church got a new organ with 19 stops on two manuals with attached pedal by the organ building workshop Johann Josef Brammertz according to a prospectus design by Johann Joseph Couven .

Between 1792 and 1794 the monks fled several times from the advancing French revolutionary troops. In 1802 the abbey, like all monasteries in the Rhineland, was finally dissolved by Napoleon. This resolution to dissolve was implemented for the imperial abbey Kornelimünster with its lands, the furniture and other values ​​in the Procès verbal of August 8, 1802, a processing protocol. The goods had to be handed over and the monks had to leave the abbey. The abbey church was given to the Catholic community as a parish church and the sanctuaries / relics were given to the parish in 1804. As such, it is today a Roman Catholic parish church and pilgrimage church in the diocese of Aachen under the name of St. Kornelius .

The abbey buildings were sold in 1807 to the factory owner and formerly first Mayor of Aachen, Jakob Friedrich Kolb , who moved into the abbot's residence as a country estate and set up a cloth factory in the outbuildings. After Kolb's death, this was taken over by his nephew Johann Gottfried Kolb (1772–1835), who in turn gave it up in 1822 and transferred it to the owner of the Aachen spinning mill , Gotthard Startz. His son of the same name continued the cloth factory until his sudden unfortunate death in 1870, and the Startz heirs finally sold the abbey building to the Prussian state in 1874, which set up a Catholic teachers' college there.

Only in 1906 did the Benedictines return to Kornelimünster. Since the old abbey buildings belonged to the state and were used differently, they founded the new Benedictine Abbey Kornelimünster at the western end of Kornelimünster , which is not a legal successor to the old imperial abbey.


Provost church of St. Cornelius

The first monastery church, consecrated in 817, was a small three-aisled basilica. It was destroyed at the end of the 9th century. After the rebuilt monastery was destroyed again in 1310, a large Gothic church in the form of a five-aisled hall was built. The two southern naves were designed as pilgrims' churches. The other areas of the church were separated from it and reserved for the members of the monastery. The provost church was thus both a monastery and a pilgrimage church. Due to the growing number of pilgrims who came to Kornelimünster, the abbey church was enlarged several times in the 15th and 16th centuries. The abbey church, which essentially originates from the Gothic period, was expanded in 1706 to include the octagonal Cornelius Chapel on the east side .

From 1721 to 1728 the abbey building was finally rebuilt as a three-wing complex in the style of the Maasland baroque baroque mosan . The unknown architect from the circle of the Aachen city architect Laurenz Mefferdatis designed a noble palace with a courtyard that was exemplary in the region at that time . In terms of architectural history, the building stands between the Londoner Hof and the Herrenbad von Mefferdatis as well as between the Rolduc monastery , the new construction of the Liège town hall and the redesign of the Aachen town hall . The builder was Prince Abbot Hyacinth Alfons von Suys, who came from a Belgian-Dutch aristocratic family. Initially, the central wing of the castle-like complex was built as a French pleasure palace (Maison de plaisance), which was to serve as the abbot's residence and official residence. This was followed by the construction of the left side wing as an administration building. It was not until the middle of the 18th century that the construction of the monks' convent and the cloister began. In the middle of the 19th century, the current south wing replaced the previous building from the 17th century, i.e. at a time when the abbey had already been closed.

The pictorial program of the furnishings consisting of ceiling pictures, stucco work and chimney attachments has largely been preserved. This is particularly true of the central festival room on the ground floor with a splendid fireplace, rich stucco work and ceiling paintings. The ceiling paintings illustrate the special functions and rights associated with the office and dignity of the abbots. Another impressive ceiling painting is in the stairwell and shows the fall of the pagan gods by the Archangel Michael , who holds a sign with the inscription quis ut deus towards the falling gods .

On the upper floor, the most splendidly designed room is the so-called Kaisersaal with the ceiling painting of the triumphant church, painted by a Belgian painter based on the model of Peter Paul Rubens.

The “hunting room”, which was named after the motifs of the wall paintings that have been completely preserved here, must also be mentioned. These show, among other things, a representation of the new monastery building as it was originally planned. The cabinet of the parade rooms is characterized by a valuable inlaid floor. In the north wing, ceiling frescos have been preserved in the former administrative rooms of the monastery state, which symbolize the abbot's government program. The residence's mobile equipment has been lost due to the secularization of the monastery and the various uses that followed.


  • Benedict of Aniane 815-821
  • Wikard 821-842
  • Adelang 843-851
  • Syfort
  • Odelin
  • Rodoard? -881
  • Revelong 881-887
  • Egilhard around 892
  • Adagrin around 914
  • Erich? –920
  • Erenbald 920-931
  • Balderich 931-938
  • Berthold I. around 948
  • Nikard? –978
  • Heinrich I. 978-988
  • Lantfried around 997
  • Libertus
  • Winrich I. 1064–?
  • Richard
  • Gerhard
  • Lockpick
  • Rudolf
  • Anno 1135-1155
  • Werner
  • Florence I. 1212-1215
  • ?
  • Florence II. 1220-1247
  • Albert I around 1248
  • Wilhelm I. 1257-1258
  • Siger? –1263
  • Johann I. 1263-1271
  • ?
  • Reinhold 1278-1309
  • Arnold I of Molenark around 1310
  • Reimar 1319-1321
  • ?
  • Arnold II. 1324-1333
  • ?
  • Richald 1340-1355
  • Johann II von Löwendael 1355-1380
  • Winrich II of Kintsweiler 1380-1392
  • Bawin bar of Metzenhausen 1392-1400
  • Peter von Roden 1400–1407
  • Winand von Rohr 1407-1434
  • Heinrich II. Von Gertzen 1434–1450
  • Heribert von Lülsdorf 1450–1481
  • Wilhelm II of Ghoer 1481–1491
  • Henry III. von Binsfeldt 1491–1531
  • Jan III Polonius von Wachtendonck 1531–1534
  • Rutger von Amstel 1534–1548
  • Albert II von Wachtendonck 1548–1573
  • Nikolas von Vorsheim 1573–1582
  • Johann IV of Hammerstein 1582
  • Johann Heinrich von Gertzen 1582–1620
  • Hermann von Eynatten 1620–1645
  • Franz Heinrich von Fraimerstorff 1645–1652
  • Isaac von Hirsch 1652–1675
  • Johann Balderich von Durffendael 1675
  • Jan Theodor de Hoens van Cartyelz 1675–1686
  • Bertrand Goswin von Gevertzhagen 1686–1699
  • Rutger Stefan von Neuhoff-Ley 1699–1713
  • Hyacinth Alphonse de Sluys 1713-1744
  • Karl Ludwig von Sickingen-Ebernburg 1745–1764
  • Matthias Ludwig von Plettenberg - Engstfeld 1764–1803


Properties of the Kornelimünster Abbey outside the Münsterland area :

Kunsthaus North Rhine-Westphalia Kornelimünster

After the Second World War , the state of North Rhine-Westphalia became the owner of the former Kornelimünster imperial abbey. Since the abbey church was given to the Catholic community as a parish church in 1802, the land is only the owner of the baroque five-winged abbey building with two inner courtyards. This also includes the large forecourt of the abbey with its one-sided late medieval buildings and the so-called immunity wall, the "gymnasium" built at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as a late Gothic double gate system in front of the left side wing and the large green areas.

War damage was repaired until the 1970s, and the stucco work and ceiling paintings still in the central wing were restored with state funds . This prestigious component has housed the Kunst aus Nordrhein-Westfalen facility since 1976 - funding purchases since 1945 , and since 2015 the Kunsthaus Nordrhein-Westfalen Kornelimünster . The collection of modern art from North Rhine-Westphalia is shown in the abbey residence and in the north wing of the convent. The permanent collection includes a selection of such works of art that have been acquired by the then Ministry of Culture and its successor by the culture department of the Ministry of Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia for the promotion of culture since the state was founded . Since 1996 changing exhibitions have been held in the facility. Admission is free.

The largest part was rented to the federal government in the 1950s, which operated the central verification office of the Wehrmacht . At the beginning of 2006 the Wehrmachtsarchiv in Kornelimünster was finally closed, the tasks are taken over by the German Office (WASt) together with the Bundesarchiv-Military Archive . In June 2006, RWTH Aachen University became the new tenant of the two side wings that had become free . Since the beginning of the 1990s, the entire building complex has been renovated piece by piece for 15 million DM .


  • Franz Bock : The reliquary treasures of the former imperial abbeys of Burtscheid and Cornelimünster, together with the sanctuaries of the former collegiate church of St. Adalbert and the Theresianer church in Aachen: in memory of the sanctuary tour of 1867; with many pictures. Cologne 1867 digitized .
  • Alfred Bruns: Imperial Abbey Kornelimünster. In: Gerhard Taddey (Hrsg.): Lexicon of German history . People, events, institutions. From the turn of the times to the end of the 2nd World War. 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-520-80002-0 , p. 692.
  • Paul Fabianek: Consequences of secularization for the monasteries in the Rhineland. Using the example of the Schwarzenbroich and Kornelimünster monasteries . BoD, Norderstedt 2012, ISBN 978-3-8482-1795-3 .
  • Friedrich E. Freiherr von Mering : History of castles, manors, abbeys and Monasteries in the Rhineland and the provinces of Jülich, Kleve, Berg and Westphalen . Published by FE Eisen, Cologne 1849.
  • Leo Hugot : The former imperial abbey in Kornelimünster . in: Art and Antiquity on the Rhine. No. 8, exhibition catalog Düsseldorf 1963, pp. 85–91.
  • Leo Hugot: Kornelimünster - Investigations into the historical development of the former Benedictine monastery church . Dissertation at RWTH Aachen University, Aachen 1965.
  • Leo Hugot: Kornelimünster - Investigations into the historical development of the former Benedictine monastery church . Bonn 1968 (Rhine. Excavations 2, supplements to the Bonner Jahrbücher 26).
  • Leo Hugot: The Inda Monastery and the Monastery Plan of St. Gallen . in: ZAGV 84/85, 1978, pp. 473-498.
  • Leo Hugot: Aachen - Kornelimünster, history, monuments and treasures . 2nd revised edition (Rhein. Kunststätten 66) Cologne 1979.
  • Leo Hugot: The Inda Abbey - Kornelimünster . in: VA Schneider (Ed.): 'And they followed the rule of Saint Benedict'. Cologne 1980, pp. 257-263.
  • Jens Nürnberger: The return of the Benedictines to the Archdiocese of Cologne after secularization and the Kulturkampf. The new Benedictine Abbey in Kornelimünster (= publications of the Episcopal Diocesan Archives Aachen 51). Aachen 2014, ISBN 978-3-943748-20-8 .
  • Wolfgang Schöller: San Julián de los Prados (Oviedo) and Kornelimünster. Transfer of plans in Carolingian times . In: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch. West German Yearbook for Art History 57 (1996), pp. 11–33.
  • Lothar Stresius : Kornelimünster. Benedictine abbey - provost church - place . Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-7954-2719-1 .
  • Albert J. Urban (ed.): Lexicon of pilgrimage sites. Their history and today's meaning. Voltmedia Verlag, Paderborn 2006, ISBN 3-938478-35-7 .

Web links

Commons : Reichsabtei Kornelimünster  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Paul Fabianek: Consequences of secularization for the monasteries in the Rhineland. Using the example of the Schwarzenbroich and Kornelimünster monasteries . Norderstedt 2012, p. 29.
  2. DI 32, City of Aachen, No. 80 (Helga Giersiepen), in: www.inschriften.net (April 19, 2019). Johannes von Vorstheim, abbot of Rolduc from 1437–1469, came from his family, which goes back to the district of Forstum (Forstheim) von Niederbardenberg . Anton Fahne wrongly brings him under the family "Varssem" from Soest, although his grave slab shows the Knüppel coat of arms of the Forstums .

Coordinates: 50 ° 43 ′ 44 "  N , 6 ° 10 ′ 54"  E