Heiligenkreuz Abbey

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Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Aerial view of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Aerial view of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey
location Wienerwald , Lower Austria
Lies in the diocese Archdiocese of Vienna
Coordinates: 48 ° 3 '19 "  N , 16 ° 7' 49"  E Coordinates: 48 ° 3 '19 "  N , 16 ° 7' 49"  E
Serial number
according to Janauschek
Patronage Assumption Day
founding year 1133
Mother monastery Morimond
Primary Abbey Morimond
Congregation Austrian Cistercian Congregation

Daughter monasteries

Dependent priories :
Neuzelle Monastery

Foundations still alive:
Lilienfeld Foundations

no longer in existence:
Monastery Cikádor
Monastery Marienberg Monastery (Burgenland)
Goldenkron Monastery

Southern view of Heiligenkreuz Abbey in the Vienna Woods - aerial view

The Heiligenkreuz Abbey is a Cistercian - abbey at Heiligenkreuz in Vienna Woods ( Lower Austria ). It has existed without interruption since it was founded in 1133, making it - after Rein Abbey - the second oldest Cistercian monastery in the world that has existed continuously since its foundation.


The Heiligenkreuz Abbey is located in the municipality of Heiligenkreuz in the Baden district , 15 kilometers west of Vienna .


Origins of settlement

The village of Heiligenkreuz came into being and developed much later than the founding buildings of the medieval monastery, which obviously had no immediate predecessors.

Not far from there was a prehistoric hilltop settlement, the settlement area of ​​which is now called "Marienwiese" and which bears the field name "Burgstall". Today it is called "Höhensiedlung Burgstall", lies above the " Cholerakapelle " in Helenental and has a natural fortification on its south and south-west side, the precipice to Schwechat . The other sides of the settlement plateau are also naturally fortified by an arched series of cliffs, steeper on the outside and flatter on the inside. You can see artificial fillings and, in some cases, ramparts in flatter spaces. The entire settlement area could thus be sealed off from the outside against attacks and defended with relatively little effort. This castrum (fortified settlement) has not yet been archaeologically examined.

In 1988, robber graves “recovered” 120 kg of raw copper cakes, which suggest an age of the Urnfield Period (1200 to 750 BC), which was confirmed by ceramic artefacts . The discovery of a few Roman coins from the second half of the fourth century allows conclusions to be drawn about a reuse or only a preliminary visit to the old settlement site in late antiquity .

The Burgstall settlement near the cholera chapel belongs to a group of prehistoric hilltop settlements, some of them Castra , in the southern Vienna Woods, whose importance they owe mainly to the processing of non-ferrous metals.

The former hilltop settlement of Burgstall is now a listed building.

Founding of a monastery

Coat of arms of the Cistercian monastery Heiligenkreuz

The monastery was founded in 1133 by St. Leopold III. Donated by the Babenberg dynasty and subsequently generously given by his son and successor, Leopold IV of Austria . It is one of the 300 monasteries that still existed during St. Bernhard von Clairvaux . The settlement took place from the mother monastery Morimond in Burgundy , its first abbot was Gottschalk. According to traditional tradition, regular monastery life is said to have started on September 11, 1133. However, the date of foundation is not documented; the deed of foundation was only written around 1230 and dated 1136, not 1133.

The deed of foundation stipulates the land that has been given to the monastery by the sovereign:

“From the confluence of the Sattelbach and the Schwechat to Mayerling. In the direction of the so-called Mühlweg to Priefamtann and from there to the place called Hausruck. From there again on the mentioned path to the Sattelbach and from there to a hill called Hocheck and from there over the Dornbach to the edge of the mountain called Gaisruck and from there on the Sittendorfer Waldweg to the origin of the brook called Marbach, from there on the path that leads to the Traiskirchner Weg to the union and from there to a spring that rises in a place called Muchersdorf, from there to the Ebenberg and from there on the path (Heutal downwards) that leads down to the Sattelbach and downriver to the confluence of the Schwechat. "

Facade of the collegiate church, in front of it the Trinity Column

Subsequently, 15 knights from the area were named as witnesses who had ridden down the boundaries described above together:

" Count Konrad von Peilstein , Otto von Lengenbach, Rapoto von Nöstach, Sterfrit von Pötzleinsdorf, Otto von Leesdorf, Ulrich von Gaaden, Ulrich von Siegenfeld, Rudiger and his brother Rupert von Sittendorf, Anshalm von Sparbach, Eberger von Alland, Hartung von Rauheneck , Jubot von Tribuswinkel, Ozo and Otfried von Mayerling, Hartwig. "

The monastery property specified in the deed of foundation is located in an area that was considered the precarious eastern border of the Bavarian duchy in the early 12th century . In order to promote clearing and road construction, Cistercians were invited to settle there. The original donation of land corresponds roughly to the area of ​​today's municipality, including the associated Preinsfeld village. There was also the Brunsfeld estate (Preinsfeld), which the founder bought from Anselm von Lachsendorf for the monastery between 1133 and 1135.

Development in the Middle Ages

This first foundation proved to be too weak as the economic basis of the monastery and its first monastic community. Around 1206 the monks had decided to move to western Hungary to the grounds of today's Königshof Castle in order not to suffer from hunger. Then the pin received today Mönchhof and Podersdorf called granges of King Andrew II. Of Hungary.

The Romanesque and Gothic buildings of the first monastery complex were built for a good 100 years .

The high Romanesque church with nave , facade , transept and the original choir was consecrated as early as 1187, after around 50 years of construction, to receive the valuable 23.5 cm cross relic on May 31, 1188 , which Leopold V. . was given to the pen.

It took about as long until 1240 the Gothic monastery and convent buildings, such as the chapter house , the fraterie , the refectory , the dormitory and above all the cloister in the south of the church were ready for inauguration. The Gothic style, which had long since moved in, led to the demolition of the relatively small Romanesque original choir and its replacement by a much larger high-Gothic hall choir, which was completed for the inauguration in 1295 together with the fountain house in the cloister. At the same time the Bernardi chapel was finished.

Until the end of the 13th century, Heiligenkreuz Abbey was the burial place of practically all members of the Wildegg and Altenburg families .

Modern times

Wiener Tor, stonemason Elias Hügel

In 1642, already in the baroque era, the new convent building, adjoining the cloister and the fraterie in the south, was completed. The date 1667 stands for the commissioning of the sacristy . A few years later, the baroque church tower was completed in 1674 .

In 1683 the monastery was attacked by Turks and set on fire. When it was rebuilt under Abbot Clemens Scheffer, the monastery was expanded in the Baroque style. So the "new" monastery buildings around the large polygonal courtyard were built to the west of the previous buildings by 1691 .

In 1710 the expansion of the Anna chapel was completed, to which the death chapel was added on the other side of the chapter hall in 1713. In 1730 the furnishing of the "old monastery gate" was completed, followed by the erection of the Holy Trinity Column from 1729 to 1730 and the Josefsbrunnen in 1739.

Under Joseph II , the monastery was spared from being abolished in 1783 because the monks had been busy with pastoral care and schooling since the Counter-Reformation ; these fields of activity were considered legitimate in the Enlightenment .

In 1802 a philosophical-theological home school was founded. It served the training of priests for the monasteries Zwettl , Lilienfeld , Heiligenkreuz and Neukloster .

20th century until today

After the annexation to the Third Reich (1938) the indirect destruction of the monastic life was planned by the construction of a highway route directly over the monastery. These plans could be averted after the Second World War and the route of today's Vienna outer ring motorway leads north past the village of Heiligenkreuz. Towards the end of the Second World War, the bells of the church tower were confiscated as raw material for the manufacture of weapons. The Russian occupation also threatened monastic life.

In 1976 the Institutum Theologicum was elevated to a university; Today it is one of the largest priest training centers in the German-speaking area. The Leopoldinum , a supra-diocesan seminary, is also located in Heiligenkreuz .

The cross relic of the monastery is now in the cross chapel, which was newly built in 1983. The relics of the son of Leopold III, Blessed Otto von Freising (1112–1158), Bishop of Freising (1138–1158), lie in a valuable shrine in the base of the high altar. In addition, part of Christ's crown of thorns is kept in the high altar of the collegiate church.

Pope Benedict XVI the university announced on January 28, 2007, the feast of St. Thomas von Aquin , to the Philosophical-Theological College Benedict XVI. Holy Cross raised. In the late afternoon of September 9, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI visited the pen and the college.

The European Institute for Cistercian Research (EUCist) has been a research and teaching department of the university since 2007. The European Institute for Philosophy and Religion (EUPHRat), whose current director is Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, is also located.

On June 15, 2021, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook visited Heiligenkreuz Abbey to conclude their state visit. The Catholic presidential couple was accompanied by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen , his wife Doris Schmidauer and members of the delegation from both countries.


The Stift-Heiligenkreuz monastery has existed without interruption since it was founded. Currently (August 2017) the monastery has 102 monks . The focus is on cultivating monastic life, liturgy and Gregorian chant in Latin . Some of the monks work in pastoral care in 18 incorporated parishes , others work as scientists and professors at the university .

Daughter monasteries

The following subsidiaries were founded by Heiligenkreuz:

and later

In 1881 it was Neukloster in Wiener Neustadt as unio extinctiva integrated into the legal personality of the Holy Cross Abbey.

Important members of the monastery

The area around 1830.

Abbots from Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Maximilian II. Heim has been abbot of the monastery since 2011

Other important members of the monastery

In front of the monastery, the collegiate church on the left
The inner courtyard

Burial place of the Babenbergs

The monastery serves as the burial place of the ruling family of Babenbergs , the margraves and dukes of Austria in the Middle Ages . A number of sovereigns and older members of this house are buried in the monastery, with the graves of these princely patrons of Heiligenkreuz in the chapter house (see below), the meeting room of the monks.

What the Imperial Crypt in Vienna is to the Habsburgs , the chapter house of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey is to the Babenbergs. In addition to the Babenbergers, two grandchildren of Rudolf von Habsburg are also buried here. It seems that the first Habsburgs in Austria followed up on the traditions of the Babenbergs in this way in order to legitimize their succession. A total of nine monuments commemorate the following people who are buried here:

In some cases, several people were buried in the same grave. An impressive high grave was created in the chapter house for Duke Friedrich II , the last Babenberg to rule Austria and who was a generous sponsor of the monastery. The other people found their final resting place under simple stone slabs, some of which are now heavily worn and therefore hardly legible.

Monastery building

Heiligenkreuz Abbey, floor plan (hand sketch)

Collegiate church

Romanesque nave

Towards the end of the 12th century, the three-aisled basilica was completed in the purest Romanesque style . Your central nave is richly illuminated at the height of the round-arched upper windows. In the lower area, the light from the windows of the north aisle falls indirectly through the arches of the arcade zone into the central nave, whereas in the south aisle it is relatively dark, as the two-storey cloister adjoins it on the outside. The massive, right-angled wall pillars end at the height of the arches with transom profiles . The reconstruction of the Romanesque complex showed a kink in the axis, the axis of the choir possibly being oriented towards the sunrise on Easter Sunday 1133 (then March 26th), the nave on Palm Sunday of that year, March 19th. This is interpreted in such a way that the Holy Week is immortalized in this church building .

All aisles are divided into ten equally wide bays , which are covered in the side aisles by semicircular longitudinal barrels and in the central nave by typical Romanesque ribbed vaults . The yokes are always separated by rectangular belt arches , the ends of which stand on the same type of pillar templates , which are closed at the top by transom profiles. In the central nave and on the outer walls of the side aisles, the pillar templates consist of only one and two meter long pieces that rest on multi-tiered consoles . In the central nave, these original pieces are accompanied on both sides by “young” three-quarter round services , on which the flat ribs of the vaults stand up.

The western gable wall is broken through by three arched windows, a symbol for the Trinity, far above the portal, almost at the height of the upper storey. In the evening the setting sun bathes the nave in a mystical light.

The baroque choir stalls in the area of ​​the last three bays fit harmoniously into the elongated room. It was carved by Giovanni Giuliani (1664–1744) in 1707 . The choir itself dates from the 15th century.

The nave is the oldest part of the collegiate church. At its eastern end is the transept, consisting of the crossing and the two equally large transept arms, which clearly protrude over the outer walls of the aisles. The formerly purely Romanesque transept underwent a considerable Gothicization due to the expansion to the east by the equally wide high Gothic hall choir , especially on its east wall and in the vaults.

The facade of the collegiate church in the collegiate courtyard presents the basilica elevation of the nave. The central nave is about twice as wide as the side aisles. The eaves of the aisles are about halfway up the eaves of the central nave.

The main portal is a three-tier archivolt portal with a closed tympanum and pillared robes. In the middle above the outer arch there is a figure of a saint on a console, on both sides there is a small obelisk at arch height on a half-column attached to the side of the vestments. The latter come from the Renaissance and are later additions. The left aisle is accessed via a smaller two-tier archivolt portal with a tympanum.

In the middle of the height of the facade there is a group of three arched two-tier archivolt windows of different sizes. Their outer arches are covered by cantilever profiles, which are continued somewhat horizontally at the arch approaches. In the middle of the central nave, a small arched window is cut out at eaves height. A medium-sized arched window is installed almost halfway up the side aisles. Graduated blind arcades run parallel to the verges of the ships .

The asymmetry of the facade created by the side portal is balanced again by the different designs of the edges of the side aisle facades. The lateral bordering templates consist of two bundles of three half-columns on the right aisle and only one pilaster-like template on the left, on the far left. To the right of this, the wall surfaces merge seamlessly into one another. In addition, the blind arcades under the eaves are designed differently.

The ridge of the facade is crowned by a stone Lazarus cross (or shamrock cross).

High Gothic hall choir

Gothic hall choir

The predecessor of this new choir was a significantly smaller Romanesque choir, hardly wider than the central nave and presumably without access. At that time, however, there was a lot of space required in and around the choir, especially for the numerous pilgrim processions to the relics, which could only be covered with a large new building. This is how the new square, high-Gothic hall choir was created from nine square yokes of equal height, each in the dimension of the crossing. The outer yokes could be called the “ambulatory”. It is the largest Gothic hall choir of its kind in Austria. Together with the transept, the floor area of ​​the hall exceeds that of the entire nave. A direct successor to this unusual hall shape can be found in the Heiligenkreuzer Filiation Stift Neuberg , which extends over the entire church.

The yokes are closed off by steep four-part ribbed vaults , the ribs and straps of which stand up on huge bundles of “older and younger” half- and three-quarter round services .

The eastern and northern outer walls are large and almost vaulted with windows, with pointed arched windows and delicate Gothic tracery, a pair in each yoke and a single but large window in the middle yoke of the east wall. About half of the glazing is the original from around 1290.

From 1612 and to a greater extent after the pillage of the Turkish invasion in 1683, the church was given a substantial Baroque renovation under the abbots Marian Schirmer and Gerhard Weixelberger . The large east central window was walled up and blocked with a massive baroque altar. At the end of the 19th century, Abbot Heinrich Grünbeck commissioned the architect Dominik Avanzo, on the initiative of Wilhelm Anton Neumann, to purify the baroque hall choir. The baroque church furnishings were largely removed. Avanzo created, among other things, seven new side altars, a ciborium altar and a side gallery in the neo-Gothic style .

The altarpiece, "The Assumption of Mary in Heaven" by Johann Michael Rottmayr , has been placed on the south side wall of the choir. The east central window was opened again. Since 1990 there has been a copy of the icon of the cross of the master Gulielmus from 1138 under the ciborium altar, which depicts Christ as the risen and exalted Lord.

The organs of the collegiate church

The large church organ in Heiligenkreuz was built in 1804 by the kuk court organ builder Ignaz Kober . It has two manuals, 55 registers and 2959 pipes. Famous composers such as Franz Schubert and Anton Bruckner have played on it. Until 1949 it stood on a baroque gallery above the main portal of the nave. However, this gallery distorted the spatial effect of the Romanesque nave and covered the light from the windows of the west wall. Abbot Karl Braunstorfer therefore had the gallery removed and the organ moved to the north arm of the transept. The last major restoration was carried out in 1997 by Helmut Allgäuer .

The disposition of the Kober organ:

I. Manual C – d 3
Quintit 16 ′
Regula primaria 8th'
Piffaro 8th'
Quintit 8th'
Coni 8th'
Tibia silvestris 8th'
Flauto traverso 8th'
Unda marina 8th'
Viola di gamba 8th'
Salicional 8th'
diapason 4 ′
Tibia 4 ′
Cor notturnum 4 ′
Diapente 3 ′
Disdiapason 2 ′
Miscella acuta 5-fold 4 ′
Cimbal 2-fold 4 ′
Miscella 4-fold 2 ′
Sesquialter 3-fold 2 ′
tuba 16 ′
Vox humana 8th'
II. Manual C – d 3
Pilatea major 8th'
Quintit 8th'
Avena 8 ′ (Ch)
Flauto traverso 8 ′ (c 1 –d 3 )
Regula primaria 4 ′
Pilatea minor 4 ′
Fugara 4 ′
Dulciana 4 ′
Viola di gamba 4 ′ + 2 ′
diapason 2 ′
Disdiapason 1 12
Miscella 5x 2 ′
bassoon 8 ′ (Ch)
oboe 8 ′ (c 1 –d 3 )
Pedal C – f 1
Pilatea maxima 32 ′
Regula primaria 16 ′
Pilatea major 16 ′
Violon 16 ′
diapason 8th'
violoncello 8th'
Violon 8th'
Diapente 6 ′
Disdiapason 4 ′
Cor notturnum 4 ′
Cornu 4-fold 3 ′
Buccina 32 ′
Buccina 16 ′
Cornu 8th'
tuba 8th'
bassoon 8th'
tuba 4 ′

Opposite the Kober organ is a small choir organ by Johann Wimola from 1746. It has stood on a neo-Gothic side gallery since 1894. The instrument has 11 registers, divided between a manual and a pedal. In 1994 the organ was restored in style by the Helmut Allgäuer company .

The disposition of the Wimola organ:

Principal 8th'
Coppel 8th'
Principal 4 ′
Flauta 4 ′
viola 4 ′
Octav 2 ′
Quint 1 12
Mixture 3-fold
Sub bass 16 ′
Octavbass 8th'
Octav 4 ′


Grisaille motif in the cloister

The cloister, the center of the monastery complex, nestles in the right angle from the south wall of the nave and the west wall of the chapter room and the fraterie. It is further bounded in the west by a slender part of the building with ancillary rooms to the monastery and in the south by the younger convent buildings. The Romanesque-Gothic cloister encloses a simply greened and lovingly tended inner courtyard. The north and south galleries are each seven bays, while the east and west galleries are only six bays. The galleries are subdivided on the outside with simple rectangular buttresses that support the horizontal thrust of the vaults. The spaces in between, the design of which appears very Romanesque, are filled above the parapets with four coupled windows and five pairs of round red columns. They are covered by horseshoe-shaped arches ( Mozarabic influence?), Which are covered by large overlapping arches, partly pointed, partly also round. Various circular " ox eyes " are cut out in the arched fields , the very large ones are equipped with rosette-like tracery.

Above all the galleries in the cloister there is a second floor with modern rectangular windows. It can The interior of the cloister is accessed from the outside via the “old gate” in the south-west corner, diagonally opposite from the collegiate church in the north-east corner.

In the galleries, however, you can experience the pure Gothic style again, its cross-section clearly shows the pointed arch. The yokes are covered with Gothic ribbed vaults. Its profiled ribs and belts stand on the walls on carved cantilever consoles and on the courtyard sides on lavishly carved bundles of capital, which are carried by bundles of red three-quarter round services. These are complemented by the red round pillars that subdivide the light openings and stand on the parapets. The keystones of the vault ribs are decorated with rosette-like flowers, a little reference to "paradise" (see beginning of the article). On the inside of the galleries, there are stone benches that will later be added.

One of the galleries is called the "gravestone entrance". On its wall are tombstones of benefactors who in the Middle Ages gave the monastery property, vineyards or other gifts and thus contributed to the livelihood of the monks. These patrons were buried in the cloister out of gratitude.

Another part of the cloister is called the “reading aisle” because the monks gather here for a reading before Compline. A reader reads a section from the Rule of Benedict from a wooden pulpit to the convent, which has gathered on wooden benches on the opposite side of the gallery . The baroque furnishings had armrests on the seats of the abbot and his two neighbors (prior and subprior), who stood by him as superior.

The reading aisle is glazed with panes, some of which date from the 13th century. They are adorned with " grisaille " painting in different shades of gray . The weather has already damaged the valuable panes.

Chapter House

Chapter house with high grave of Duke Friedrich II.
In 1188 Leopold V gave the monks a cross relic

The chapter house was the meeting room of the monks, in which at each meeting, at least originally, a chapter of the scriptures was read aloud. For the monks who were entitled to participate in these meetings, the designation "capitular" applied. As with almost all monasteries of this type, the chapter house opens from the eastern gallery of the cloister through two windows and a door that cannot be locked and three steps lead down to it. The chapter house is divided into nine square bays with four-part ribbed vaults, the ribs and straps of which are supported on the walls by cantilever consoles and in the room by four octagonal columns. Today's ribs, spars and capitals suggest a Baroque revision. In the east wall, three large, circular, colorfully glazed “ ox eyes ” illuminate the room directly.

The hall also serves as the burial place of the princely patrons of the monastery from the Babenberg family . Today there are still nine simple grave slabs in the ground. An impressive high grave was created for Duke Friedrich II , the arguable (1211–1246), the last Babenberger to rule Austria, a generous sponsor of the monastery.

The people buried in the chapter house are depicted on the baroque frescoes.


Construction work in the fraterie around 1947

The fraterie was the working room of the fratres , the "brothers". There is one entrance from the cloister and two from other components. The space was certainly originally divided for the different types of workshops, for example for the cobbler's shop, tailoring, carpentry and others. Next to the “workshop” was the scriptorium, the writing room. In this important room, the monks wrote or copied books by hand. It was the only heated room in the monastery. It was not until 1992 that the calefactorium, the boiler room, accessible via a staircase, was discovered.

The fraterie comprises 3 × 6, i.e. eighteen square yokes, which are divided longitudinally and transversely by wide rectangular belts with pointed arches. On the walls, the almost vertical arch ends transfer the loads into the masonry without console protrusions. A total of ten supports, most of them round, support the remaining arch ends with profiled struts and bases. The yokes themselves are covered by groin vaults (without ribs). Here, too, references to the Romanesque can be seen.

Bernardi Chapel

Today it is the winter chapel for the convent; in most years it is mainly used from All Saints' Day to Easter . Its inner length is 20.2 meters, it is 7.3 m wide. Its height is difficult to determine due to the backfill of the floor, but the proportions generally result in a ratio of 1: 2: 3. The window gables reach up to the height of the keystones. The vault of the nave is six-part. Six diagonal ribs each unite in the two keystones . The end of the choir has a six-part star vault, here too six ribs unite in a keystone.

Floor plan and side view of the Bernardi Chapel

The chapel is the last major building that was built in Heiligenkreuz in the Middle Ages. No precise information can be given about the year of construction, but a note from the Continuatio Vindobonensis suggests around 1290. Originally it was dedicated to St. Consecrated to Erasmus of Antioch and was used as an infirmary or attached to the infirmary on the first floor of the building to the west. On the north side of the choir there was a sacrament house in the Middle Ages , but it did not survive the 19th century. On the south side there was a baroque portal until the 20th century.

The end of the choir was exposed by a fire on December 21, 1910. Because the chapel had served as a holy grave for decades , the end of the choir was built with a stage-like structure. As a result, the chapel was used more and more for the Liturgy of the Hours and the celebration of Holy Mass; Abbot Karl Braunstorfer turned it into a heated winter chapel and had Margret Bilger equip it with glass windows ; the 13 windows were made in 1963 and 1964, they represent religious festivals in the church year, e.g. B. Passion, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Christmas, and are considered the main work of the Upper Austrian artist. Soon after completing this mission, Bilger converted to Catholicism.

The exterior is characterized by the simplicity of the Cistercians. A massive plinth extends around the alternating strong and weak pillars, as well as around the chapel wall. The window slope is smooth, without profiling. A bay window on the gable of the west side, in which there is a statue of Bernhard today, was originally a bell niche as a replacement for the bell towers that were forbidden by the Cistercians in the Middle Ages.

The building material differs from that of all other buildings of the monastery. Instead of Siegenfelderstein , Leithasandstein was used for the most part ; this probably comes from Kaisersteinbruch .

Chapel of the Dead

Skeleton representation on the altar of the mortuary chapel

The mortuary chapel between the chapter house and the fraterie was probably the “parlatorium” in the Middle Ages, the only room in which the monks were allowed to speak in a house of general silence. The narrow room, made up of three bays and covered with groin vaults, has been used as a chapel for the dead since 1713. The artistic design was the responsibility of Giovanni Giuliani. Dancing skeletons light up (as candle bearers) the deceased brother who is laid out in the middle of the chapel, the way into eternity.

Anna Chapel

Sacristy - Rococo stucco ceiling

At the same time as the death chapel, the Anna chapel, between the hall choir of the church and the chapter house, was completed. In the Middle Ages there was the book collection of the convent, the ecclesiastical armory, hence the name Armarium .


The sacristy was added to the southeast corner of the Gothic hall choir in the 17th century. The rectangular room with large windows on three sides has a multi-segmented stucco ceiling in the form of a mirror vault. Small stitch caps in front of the windows interrupt the aforementioned bulges. The sacristy presents high quality rococo frescos.

Old gate

The “Old Gate” is a small room through which in the Middle Ages one could get directly from outside into the southwest corner of the cloister. A monk let the newcomers into the monastery here until the 1970s. The baroque frescoes show the Virgin Mary, St. Benedict (in a black robe) and St. Bernard (in a white robe). Those who enter symbolically place themselves under the protection of these saints.

Bell tower

Although the medieval Cistercian churches usually do not have a bell tower, the soaring bell tower built in Heiligenkreuz can be seen from afar. It was built in 1674 in the angle between the north aisle and the north arm of the transept in the Baroque style. Medieval Cistercian churches usually did not have a bell tower. A relatively small roof turret served as a replacement, also in Heiligenkreuz, where it stands at the eastern end of the choir ridge, albeit in a Baroque style.


The following bells hang in the bell tower of the collegiate church:

Casting year
1 Trinity Bell 1697 Jacob de Romet 147 1740 h 0
2 Marienbell 1956 St. Florian 129 1124 dis 1
3 Cross bell 1956 St. Florian 110 697 f sharp 1
4th Bernhard Bell 1956 St. Florian 98 505 g sharp 1
5 Leopold Bell 1956 St. Florian 83 327 h 1

The measuring bell (diameter 44 cm; approx. 50 kg; strike h 2 ) hangs in the roof turret above the Gothic hall choir . It probably dates from the 14th century and is used as a transformation bell.

In the roof turret of the convent wing is the convent bell (diameter 47 cm; 100 kg; strike tone f sharp 2 ). It was cast by Grassmayr in 1993 . The convent bell rings at least three times a day and calls the monks to the vigils, the third and the compline. It also sounds on the monthly chapter, on solemn occasions (dressing up, temporary profession and election of abbot), on the death bed of a monk and finally on the reception of the coffin. The ringing of the bell accompanies the monks from dressing up to the funeral.

The glockenspiel of the monastery is located in the horn tower. With 43 bells it is the second largest carillon in Austria after the carillon in Innsbruck Cathedral . The bells can be played using a keyboard . Throughout the year a hymn sounds ten minutes before the hour strikes, which corresponds to the liturgical season (Advent / Easter / Marian month of May etc.).

Window (1290) depicting St. Leopold in the fountain house


The modern Kreuzkirche connects on the north side of the transept and the bell tower. It was built in 1982 and contains a valuable cross relic . Its floor plan has the shape of a Latin cross , the west-facing cross trunk of which is rounded like an apse.

Well house

The fountain house in the cloister, right next to the south gallery, was the monastery’s only source of drinking water in the Middle Ages. The high Gothic nine-cornered room, completed in 1295, gives the impression of a magnificent chapel, with the Gothic windows made of colorful glass panes, on which the Babenberg family is depicted, with the keystone of the rib vault, which presents the enthroned Christ (the original made of oak is on display in the museum ), and finally with the pyramid-shaped Renaissance fountain made of lead. This aesthetic design of a profane room with the function of a water point and laundry room is initially astonishing. But there are theological reasons for this. The magnificent sacred interior design was intended to remind the monks that ordinary everyday activities also take place in the face of Christ (keystone) and that they always serve God with everything and everywhere.


Trinity column in the monastery courtyard

To the west of the medieval monastery building with the facade of the collegiate church and the entrances to the church and the monastery area extends the large polygonal monastery courtyard. In addition to the aforementioned two-storey buildings, with the exception of the facade, it is surrounded by younger two-storey monastery buildings in the Baroque style, which were released for use towards the end of the 17th century. On the shortest northern side of the courtyard is the large, arched entrance portal, above which a five-storey tower rises, with an elaborately designed baroque facade made of imperial stone , and which is crowned by a terrace with an artful balustrade. The outer corners of the building are equipped with circular turrets, some of which only begin above the ground floor and end with the tips of their onion-shaped baroque roofs at the height of the building ridge. They resemble the so-called " pepper boxes " in historical fortress architecture. Continuous arcades with cross vaults are laid out on three inner sides of the courtyard on the ground floor and on the upper floor.

The monastery courtyard houses the Trinity Column (a so-called “plague column”), created by sculptor Giovanni Giuliani and court stonemason master Elias Hügel , from stones from Kaisersteinbruch , Eggenburg and Loretto as well as the Josefsbrunnen, stonemason Joseph Winkler , both from the first half 18th century.

Convent building

In the south of the cloister and the fraterie there is an extensive younger convent building, which was completed in the middle of the 16th century. It is the living area of ​​the monks. Similar to the medieval cloister, two-story buildings enclose a square inner courtyard.

The picture shows the view from the south (Badener Strasse); on the left is the younger convent building, on the right the facade to the monastery library, in the background the church tower is visible. The water body in front is the extinguishing water pond.

Recreation room

The recreation room in the exam area

The recreation room is a rare example of contemporary architecture in the convent area of ​​the monastery. It is located on the west side of the Ganges, which extends from the Fraterie in the direction of Baden, and is not generally accessible. The Viennese architect Hans Pfann (1890–1973) designed the room, which was inaugurated on Christmas Eve in 1972 by the client Abbot Franz Gaumannmüller . Before 1939 the recreation room of the lay brothers, a room for employees and the tailor shop were located in the corridor. From 1957 to 1972 the chapel for retreat courses was there.

Pfann has received several orders from Heiligenkreuz since 1952. He was considered a conservative architect (the casino in Baden, the sanatorium in Grimmenstein and the renovation of the Musikverein building in 1938 are his best-known works) and was highly regarded in professional circles for his knowledge of the history and theory of architecture. He remained associated with the pen until his death; Despite his evangelical confession, the Heiligenkreuzer commissions were one of his favorite works.

The wall paneling and furniture are made of walnut and were made by employees of the pin joinery, the ceramic plates on the south wall were purchased from Gaumannmüller in Italian galleries.

Quarries on the Leithagebirge

Hand of the oath of the Cistercians of Heiligenkreuz, keystone of the portal to the former Kaisersteinbruch rectory

Through a royal donation in 1203, the monastery owned large quarries in the Leithagebirge , which belonged to Hungary on the border with Austria. At that time the settlement was listed as a Heiligenkreuz quarry in all documents of the monastery , but as an "imperial quarry" or " emperor quarry " in all secular archives . In the 19th century, the rulers gave the abbreviation “quarry”.

In the imperial city of Vienna, the stone with the brand name Kaiserstein was valued at that time , which was also often used in the buildings of the monastery, for example the main portal to the monastery courtyard, the Trinity column, the Josefsbrunnen, the fountain in the inn garden, the Wiener Tor. Also for stone slabs in the cloister, in the fountain house, in the left aisle of the collegiate church, as a step stone for many stairs and for the large stone portals in the monastery. The monastery obtained the stones from Eggenburg for figurine decorations .

Near the chapel ruin on the Klosterwiese west of Kaisersteinbruch, the archaeologist and Colonel Maximillian Groller von Mildensee conducted excavations on behalf of the “ Carnuntum ” antiquity association in 1903 , which confirmed that Cistercian living quarters were located here .

On October 31, 1912, under Abbot Gregor Pöck, the monastery sold the quarry area to the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry . These negotiations took place without the knowledge and participation of the Kaisersteinbruch residents, the files in the war archive attest to this. The monastery received 3,500,000 crowns and Styrian forest areas with 11,700 hectares. The demands of the Bruck camp for more practice areas were met. This was the beginning of the military history of Kaisersteinbruch , which in 1938 led to the complete evacuation .

Monastery as a business enterprise

As for all monasteries of the Middle Ages, Heiligenkreuz received endowments from the founders and other donations over the centuries; By accepting it, the convent undertook to pray for the deceased benefactors and, if necessary, to bury them in the monastery area, for example in the cloister. The administration of these donations continues to this day. Donations are still an important source of income.

Real estate

According to the Wirtschaftsblatt , Heiligenkreuz Abbey today owns 19,000 hectares of land, making it the second largest church landowner in Austria.

In 1286 the monastery had city courts in Bruck an der Leitha , Vienna , Wiener Neustadt and Marchegg .

The most important reasons for the monastery in the early modern period were in the quarter under the Manhartsberg (including Stiftsherrschaft Niederleis, 1651 - 1867) and in the quarter under the Vienna Woods. With the takeover of the Neukloster in 1881, the property of the Wiener Neustädter Kloster also came into the possession of Heiligenkreuz.

Schloss Wasserberg near Knittelfeld, Styria , has belonged to the monastery since 1913 .


Until the end of 2016, a sawmill belonged to the monastery business, which was not able to generate any profit for years and was shut down after almost 70 years of existence. The Lower Austrian Forest Association of the Chamber of Agriculture has held a timber auction in the forest since the 2000s , in which precious woods are auctioned at top prices. A biomass plant with district heating has been attached to the sawmill since 1983 , with which parts of Heiligenkreuz are heated. It is the oldest biomass heating plant in Lower Austria.

Another associated company is the Stiftsweingut Freilut Thallern in Gumpoldskirchen .

The Be & Be publishing house and the Heiligenkreuz monastery shop are also part of the business operations of the monastery.


The Heiligenkreuz Abbey and University Library has around 75,000 titles, 34,100 of which are historical, with 99 incunabula and 500 manuscripts . The library has existed since the foundation of the monastery in 1133. In 2013, the university library took over the library of the former Benediktbeuern monastery with 265,000 volumes. It operates its own bookbinding and restoration workshop.

Supervised parishes and priory monasteries

From the monastery courtyard to the outdoor area the Kaiserstiege with steps made of Kaiserstein
This baroque spiral staircase leads from the old gate to the prelature

In addition to monastic life, Heiligenkreuz Fathers work in 18 parishes in three dioceses.

Heiligenkreuz Abbey in and with the media

Musical success with Gregorian chant CDs in 2009 and 2011

  • In 2007, the Schola des Stift applied for a YouTube video on the Internet for the recording of a CD with Gregorian chant , which the record company Universal Music commissioned after trend researchers had found that the ancient chorale was very well received as background music to computer games. The unconventional nature of the application, the relatively young occupation of the Schola and the fact that there was no feedback from Great Britain led Universal Music to sign a record deal with the monastery. In the spring of 2008 a team from the record company went to Heiligenkreuz and made the recordings for it at the original location, i. H. in the collegiate chapel. The marketing department of Universal Music Chant chose the title for the CD : Music For Paradise The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz . Shortly after its release, the CD climbed into the international music charts and the monastery was overrun by visitors from all over the world. The monks allow visitors to attend their midday prayer. This soon became a mass event. Numerous interviews followed, and on October 4, 2008, Father Karl Wallner and Father Philipp Neri Gschanes were represented as representatives of the Choralschola in the entertainment show Wetten, dass ..? (Episode 176) invited. It was the last such television appearance, as the confreres found that the framework and the loose slogans of moderator Thomas Gottschalk were not appropriate to the dignity associated with religious life.
The CD had sold 850,000 copies worldwide by April 2009, 128,000 of them in Austria alone, which meant six times platinum. There was also platinum in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland.
In 2011 the Cistercian Monks released another CD entitled Chant-Amor et Passio , which reached gold status in Austria within four weeks.
  • The broadcaster HBO had a documentary film about the monastery complex.

See also


  • Werner Richter: Historia Sanctae Crucis. Contributions to the history of Heiligenkreuz in the Vienna Woods 1133–2008. Heiligenkreuz 2011, ISBN 978-3-902694-12-6 .
  • Florian Watzl : The Cistercians of Heiligenkreuz. Presented in chronological order according to the sources. Graz 1898 ( PDF scan in full at commons.wikimedia.org).
  • Hermann Watzl : "... in loco, qui nunc ad sanctam crucem vocatur ..." Sources and treatises on the history of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey. Heiligenkreuzer Verlag, 1987.
  • Luigi DiGiovine: Heiligenkreuz. Styria, Graz / Vienna 1983, ISBN 3-222-11489-7 .
  • Dagobert Frey : The monuments of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey (= Austrian art topography 19). Vienna 1926.
  • Dehio Handbook Lower Austria. Volume 2: South of the Danube, Part 1: A to L; Topographical inventory of monuments. Horn / Vienna 2003, pp. 730–765.
  • Franz Gaumannmüller : The medieval monastery complex of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey. Heiligenkreuzer Verlag, Heiligenkreuz 1967.
  • Malachias Koll : The Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Austria. VUWW with the parishes and possessions belonging to it, together with the unified St. Gotthardt Monastery in Hungary. Represented topographically and historically. With 5 views Beck, Vienna 1834 ( PDF scan in full on cistopedia.org).
  • Bernhard Link : Annales Austrio-Clara-Vallenses. Vienna 1723–1725. This house history of the first founding of the monastery from Heiligenkreuz contains many details about the mother monastery in the Vienna Woods.
  • Alkuin Volker Schachenmayr : Formative professors in the development of theological teaching in the Cistercian monastery Heiligenkreuz 1802-2002. Bernardus, Langwaden 2004, ISBN 3-937634-08-8 .
  • Alkuin Volker Schachenmayr : Karl Braunstorfer (1895–1978). Abbot of Heiligenkreuz and Abbot Preses of the Austrian Cistercian Congregation. Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-936872-64-3 .
  • Johann Nepomuk Weis: Documents of the Cistercian monastery Heiligenkreuz in the Viennese forest, 1st part. Fontes rerum Austriacarum II / 11, Vienna 1856 ( Google Book ).
  • Johann Nepomuk Weis: Documents of the Cistercian monastery Heiligenkreuz in the Viennese forest, Part II. Fontes rerum Austriacarum II / 16, Vienna 1859.
  • Benedict Gsell: The Gültenbuch of the Cistercienser Stift Heiligenkreuz from the end of the thirteenth century. Vienna 1866 ( Google Book ).
  • Martin Czernin: Heiligenkreuz. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon . Online edition, Vienna 2002 ff., ISBN 3-7001-3077-5 ; Print edition: Volume 2, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-7001-3044-9 .
  • Robert Hörger: End of the "Heiligenkreuzer Barock": The regotisation of the collegiate church for the 700th anniversary of the consecration of the church in 1887 . In: Sancta Crux: Journal of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey . tape 48 , 1987, pp. 54-106 . fava

Web links

Commons : Heiligenkreuz Abbey  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Leopold Janauschek: Originum Cisterciensium. 1. Volume, Verlag Alfred Hölder, Vienna 1877, pp. 36–37 ( section LXXXVIII “Sancta-Crux, Heiligenkreuz”, pp. 129–130 ; entire book on nbn-resolving.de ).
  2. Matthäus Merian : Topographia Provinciarum Austriacarum. Austriae, Styriae, Carinthiae, Carniolae, Tyrolis etc. Frankfurt am Main 1649 / 1656ff, p. 15 ( Foundation of Leopold IV. To Heiligenkreuz on wikisource.org).
  3. Erwin Reidinger , Rudolf Koch: The collegiate church of Heiligenkreuz: Axial kink and orientation days - answers from the foundation planning. In: Sancta Crux . 70, 2009, ISBN 978-3-902694-23-2 , pp. 37-103.
  4. Oskar von Mitis first referred to this fact: Studies on the older Austrian document system . Vienna 1912, pp. 270–282 referred to. The certificate is printed in: Heinrich Fichtenau , Erich Zöllner (Hrsg.): Document book on the history of the Babenbergs in Austria. Volume 1, Vienna 1950, pp. 5-7.
  5. ^ Hermann Watzl: The plan to relocate the Cisterce Heiligenkreuz from the Vienna Woods to western Hungary in the years 1206 to 1209. in: Yearbook for regional studies of Lower Austria. New episode 34, 1958–1960, pp. 106–119 ( online (PDF) on ZOBODAT ). Reprinted in: Hermann Watzl: "... in loco, qui nunc ad sanctam crucem vocatur ..." Sources and treatises on the history of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey. Heiligenkreuz 1987, pp. 431-444.
  6. Entry about Burg Wildegg on Burgen-Austria
  7. Image of Heiligenkreuz (Holy Trinity Column)
  8. About Diocesan Seminary Leopoldinum Holy Cross. Homepage on leopoldinum.at.
  9. Heiligenkreuz Abbey elevated to the status of a Pontifical University. In: kath.net , February 8, 2007, accessed October 5, 2019.
  10. Van der Bellen and Korea's President visited Heiligenkreuz Abbey. In: kathpress.at. June 15, 2021, accessed June 16, 2021 .
  11. Heiligenkreuz Abbey reports the highest level to monks. In: orf.at, August 16, 2017, accessed on August 16, 2017.
  12. Cistercians establish priory in Neuzelle. Ministry of Science, Research and Culture; State of Brandenburg, August 27, 2018, accessed on August 28, 2018 .
  13. ^ Heinrich Mayer: For everlasting times: the union of the Neukloster Abbey in Wiener Neustadt with the Heiligenkreuz Abbey in 1881. Heiligenkreuz 1966.
  14. The Hungarian monastery was without monks when Palffy arrived. His appointment as Archabbot was a suggestion of the Heiligenkreuz monk Anton Wolfradt, who had meanwhile advanced to become Bishop of Vienna . Damianus Fuxhoffer: Monasteriologia regni Hungariae. Pest 1858, pp. 121-125.
  15. ^ Erwin Reidinger: Orientation of medieval churches . In: Office of the Lower Austrian State Government (Ed.): Gestalte (n). The magazine for building, architecture and design . N ° 139, March 2013, ZDB -ID 2708987-3 , p. 47 ( noe-gestalten.at [accessed on April 26, 2017]).
  16. Robert Hörger: End of the "Heiligenkreuzer Barock": The regotization of the collegiate church for the 700th anniversary of the consecration of the church in 1887 . In: Sancta Crux: Journal of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey . tape 48 , 1987, pp. 54-106 .
  17. ^ Alois Niemetz: 800 years of music care in Heiligenkreuz. Heiligenkreuz 1977, pp. 65, 81-88.
  18. Entry on the chapter house of Heiligenkreuz Abbey in the database of the state's memory of the history of Lower Austria ( Museum Niederösterreich )
  19. ^ Gregor Pöck : The Bernhardi Chapel in the Heiligenkreuz Abbey. In: Announcements of the kk Central Commission for Monument Preservation. 10, No. 3, 1911, pp. 203-212.
  20. ^ Father Karl Wallner : The picture-rich monastery guide through the Heiligenkreuz Abbey. Heiligenkreuz 2011, p. 93.
  21. Jörg Wernisch: Bell customer of Austria. Lienz 2006, pp. 503-506.
  22. Heiligenkreuz Abbey. In: Architects Lexicon Vienna 1770–1945. Published by the Architekturzentrum Wien . Vienna 2007.
  23. ^ Norbert Roth: Church buildings in Lower Austria 1945–1978. Share of the Archdiocese of Vienna 1979.
  24. ^ Economic Journal. 4th July 2006.
  25. ↑ Call for donations ( memento of March 28, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) on the website of the monastery.
  26. M. Berger: Thank God: 1.6 billion S for Stift Admont - list of the richest monasteries in Austria. 1998 ( Memento from April 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  27. Christina Lutter: "Locus horroris et vastae solitudinis"? Cistercians in and around Vienna. In: Historical yearbook. 132, 2012, pp. 160-161.
  28. Heiligenkreuz Abbey closes the sawmill. In: noe.orf.at, August 24, 2016, accessed on October 19, 2016.
  29. Martina Nöstler: The next shutdown. In: Holzkurier. August 23, 2016, accessed September 20, 2020 .
  30. Chronicle 2008 ( Memento of May 12, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  31. http://kulturgueter.kath-orden.at/zisterzienserstift-heiligenkreuz. Section for the Cultural Assets of the Orders, accessed on December 20, 2016 .
  32. ^ Library of the Cistercian Abbey. In: Handbook of the historical book collections . Bernhard Fabian , accessed December 20, 2016 .
  33. P. Paulus Nüss: The Abbey Library Heiligenkreuz. In: People in Libraries: 25th Austrian Librarian's Day, St. Pölten, 15. – 19. September 1998, pp. 114-116. klosterbibliotheken.at, accessed on December 20, 2016 .
  34. Content Creation "TOP TEN MONKS" (2010) Infomo Video Review. Video from broadcaster HBO. In: youtube.com, February 14, 2011, accessed October 5, 2019.
  35. URL: https://regiowiki.at/index.php?title=Werner_Richter&oldid=252471