Meschede Abbey

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Parish church of St. Walburga, former collegiate church
Aerial view of the collegiate church
Storm on the sea; Motif from the Hitda Codex

The Meschede Abbey in Meschede in the Sauerland was founded as a women's abbey in the Carolingian era . In the 14th century it was converted into a convent of male canons . It existed in this form until secularization in 1803/05. Since then the collegiate church has been used as a parish church.


The time as a noble women's pen

The exact year of foundation is unknown. It is only clear that the beginnings lie in the 9th century. It is believed that it was founded between 804 and 860. This makes it the second oldest women's convent in Westphalia . The founder of the monastery is Emhildis, who presumably came from the Ricdag family from which the family of the later Counts of Werl emerged . Her name is not mentioned in a document until the 12th century. It is certain that the monastery was closely associated with the family of the Counts von Werl and later von Arnsberg . They were probably the real donors. The abbess mostly came from this family and the counts were the hereditary bailiffs of the monastery until they died out in 1368 . After 1310 some provosts of the later canon monastery also came from the family.

Walburga shrine in the St. Walburga Church

The first reliable mention of the monastery comes from 913. In a document, Konrad I confirms earlier privileges to the residents of the monastery. These include the rights of immunity and the free choice of the abbess. Various donations from high nobility up to the Ottonian emperors speak for the importance of the community. King Otto I granted the monastery customs and market rights. Emperor Otto III. gave the monastery the main courtyard in Stockhausen , to which about 20 other farms belonged. These and similar donations, as well as the property of the canons, which fell to the community after their death, led to the fact that the Meschede monastery accumulated considerable property and wealth. It had a total of 400 farms of various sizes, 200 of them in the upper Sauerland alone. A sign of prosperity was that Abbess Hitda was able to give the monastery a valuable gospel book around the year 1000, the Hitda Codex , which is named after her today . The importance of the monastery is also indicated by the fact that the Archbishops of Cologne placed several parishes with their property and income under it, such as 1042 Calle. The dean's office in Engern (which was later divided into the dean's offices in Meschede and Wormbach) had also been under the Meschede abbess since 1070. In addition to the abbess, about 20 women lived in the monastery. While the headmistress mostly came from the higher nobility, the ladies mostly came from the country nobility.

The monastery was initially consecrated to Mary and later became a center of veneration for St. Walburga , whose relics came to Meschede between 911 and 918 through the mediation of King Konrad I.

The abbess's initially strong position was somewhat restricted over the centuries in favor of the canonesses. In the 12th century, for example, a consensus between the abbess and the convent became common in managing property. Apart from the role in Christianization in the first centuries of existence, the monastery played an important role in culture and education. There was a school for boys, especially for those who wanted to enter the clergy, and a charter from 1177 also indicates schooling for girls. There was a special convent of ten canons for pastoral care.

In the following centuries, however, the monastery lost its importance due to an economic decline. The widespread ownership and the gradual replacement of taxes in kind with cash benefits proved to be problematic. Since these could not be adjusted to inflation, the income of the monastery de facto fell. In addition, over time the dependent farmers saw themselves as owners and stopped paying. There was also criticism of the secularization of the canonies.

The canons' pen

North portal of the St. Walburga Church

On the order of Archbishop Heinrich II of Cologne, after the death of Abbess Agnes von Arnsberg in 1310, the women's pen was converted into a pen for male canons. The community had about 15 members. If possible, 7 of them should be priests, plus 4 deacons and the rest were sub-deacons. These were under the direction of a provost, who essentially had the rights of the former abbess. The first provost was Johannes von Arnsberg . The canons were not monks, but a community of world priests who could have different tasks and who shared the common income among themselves. Since the initial income was insufficient, the pastoral offices in Hellefeld , Calle , Remblinghausen and Eslohe were incorporated with their income in 1319 . After the new beginning, the high nobility gradually lost importance in the monastery. In addition to members from the lower nobility, there was an increasing number of commoners. The canons did not live in a monastery-like community, but had their own houses near the monastery, which were made of stone and stood out from the half-timbered houses of the townspeople. Some of the members of the monastery also had other church offices and benefices, such as canons . However, a residence obligation prevented the neglect of the position in Meschede. Her main task was to serve as a pastor in the churches in the area and as a teacher at the collegiate school.

Little is known about its development, but it had a very good reputation as a school of scholars. The relatively high number of students from Meschede at the universities in Erfurt and Cologne speaks for its importance . Franco von Meschede , who wrote various sacred poems in Latin, also worked as a scholaster in Meschede . A manuscript ( Codex Guelf. 58.4 Aug. 8 ° ) originates from the transition period between the women's monastery and the canons' monastery , which presumably originates from the area around the Meschede monastery and contains translations of religious texts into Low German .

The importance of the pen declined since the 17th century. Increased prices and wars contributed to this, so the Meschede monastery and community were plundered several times between 1568 and 1606. The Thirty Years 'War , the Seven Years' War and finally the Coalition Wars also had negative influences . In addition, since the 17th century, despite the residence obligation, the provosts (such as Johann Gottfried von Fürstenberg ) were claimed by other offices as canons and neglected their tasks in Meschede. As a result, the school was closed.

The monastery existed until it was abolished in 1805. As a result, the property was secularized and numerous works of art such as the Hitda Codex were removed.

Monastery church

In the early days of its existence, the monastery probably did not have its own church, but only a small oratory . A first church was built in pre-Romanesque times around 900. Architectural and archaeological studies have shown that it was built between 897 and 913. From this time, barrel-vaulted tunnels on the sides in the crypt and square corner rooms come from. A semicircular central building of the crypt comes from the Romanesque period (consecration between 1169 and 1191). A new building on the foundations of the pre-Romanesque predecessor building was not erected until 1663 and 1664. It is a hall church , which in the Baroque era made use of Gothic style elements ( post-Gothic ).

During the Second World War, the roof of the nave and the bell tower of the church were badly damaged in an air raid on February 19, 1945. The pastor at the time was able to prevent a planned reconstruction of the church at another location, so that the church was repaired between 1947 and 1954.

In 1965, an empty cult tomb from the 12th century was discovered in the area of ​​the altar of the first church during renovation work. The tomb most likely contained relics of St. Walburga. It is believed that these were lost with the shrine in the Thirty Years' War. A bronze shrine by the artist Anne Wagner has been located in the burial chamber since 1980. Relics of the saints donated from Eichstätt are kept in the shrine. In the immediate vicinity of the grave reliquaries of St. Liborius , St. Edith Stein , Blessed Marcel Callo and saints of the early Church are kept.


View of the organ

The first organ was built in 1881 by the Eggert Orgelbau-Anstalt (Paderborn). The instrument was replaced by a new instrument after the First World War , which was destroyed by a bomb hit in 1945. Today's organ was built in 1982 by the organ building company Siegfried Sauer . The slider chests -instrument has 43 registers on three manuals and pedal . The choir organ can be played from the 3rd manual. The action is mechanical, the stop action is electrical.

I Hauptwerk C – g 3
Principal 16 ′
Principal 8th'
Reed flute 8th'
Viol 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Covered 4 ′
Fifth 2 23
Principal 2 ′
Cornett III-V 8th'
Mixture IV-V 2 ′
Zymbel II
Trumpet 8th'
II Swell C – g 3
Covered 8th'
Salicional 8th'
Vox coelestis 8th'
Principal 4 ′
Transverse flute 4 ′
recorder 2 ′
Third flute 1 35
Larigot 1 13
Sif flute 1'
Seventh 47
Scharff IV
Dulcian 16 ′
Hautbois 8th'
Clayron 4 ′
III choir organ C – g 3
Reed flute 8th'
Principal 4 ′
Pointed flute 4 ′
Forest flute 2 ′
Fifth 1 13
Mixture III-IV 1 13
Pedals C – f 1
Principal 16 ′
Sub bass 16 ′
Octave bass 8th'
Covered bass 8th'
Choral bass 4 ′
Night horn 4 ′
Reed flute 2 ′
Backset V 2 23
bassoon 16 ′
Trumpet 8th'

Pedal choir organ C – f 1
Sub bass 16 ′
  • Coupling: II / I, III / I, I / P, II / P, III / P

Monastery head



Johannes von Arnsberg
Walram from Arnsberg
Wilhelm von Arnsberg
Ludwig von Bilstein
Wilhelm Freseken
Heinrich von Blydelinctorp
Albert von Beringhausen
Arnold von Beringhausen
Wrede of Beringhausen
Arnold von Beringhausen
Wilhelm von Westphalen
Theodor von Westphalen
Philipp von Westphalen
Wilhelm von Westphalen
Philipp von Westphalen
Wilhelm of Holstein-Schaumburg
Theodor von Fürstenberg
Melchior von Plettenberg
Friedrich von Fürstenberg
Johann von Fürstenberg
Gottfried von Fürstenberg
Leopold by Caretto
Guinaldus of Nuvolare
Wilhelm von Fürstenberg
Johann Werner de Veyder
Marquard Anton von Neuforge
Friedrich Christian von Fürstenberg
Johann Baptist von Monquintin
Ferdinand Wilhelm von Bocholtz
Franz Wilhelm von Bocholtz
Clemens von Spiegel
Pastor Graf from Remblinghausen


  1. ^ History of the Meschede Monastery, part 1 (PDF, 240 KB). Archived from the original on April 7, 2014 ; Retrieved April 5, 2014 .
  2. ^ History of the Meschede Monastery, Part 3 (PDF, 138 KB). Archived from the original on April 7, 2014 ; Retrieved April 5, 2014 .
  3. ^ History of the Meschede Monastery, part 5 (PDF, 208 KB). Archived from the original on February 2, 2014 ; Retrieved April 5, 2014 .
  4. ^ History of the Meschede Monastery, Part 2 (PDF, 218 KB). Archived from the original on April 7, 2014 ; Retrieved April 5, 2014 .
  5. Catholic parish of St. Walburga Meschede (ed.): Church guide parish church St. Walburga , Meschede 2005
  6. Information on the history of the organ in Meschede Abbey , accessed on January 9, 2015.
  7. Information on the disposition of the organ , accessed on January 9, 2015.


  • Karl Busch, Barbara Busch: Church leader parish church St. Walburga. Catholic parish St. Walburga, Meschede 2005.
  • Hilde Claussen, Uwe Lobbedey: The Carolingian collegiate church in Meschede. Brief report on building research . In: Yearbook Hochsauerlandkreis 1985, ISSN  0931-1149 . Pp. 76-82.
  • Carl Köster: On the asset management of the Meschede monastery in the Middle Ages. In: Journal for patriotic history and antiquity. 67, 1, 1909, ZDB -ID 201422-1 , pp. 49–167 (also separately: Regensberg, Münster 1909), (Münster, Univ., Diss., 1909).
  • Heiko KL Schulze: Monasteries and monasteries in Westphalia. History, building history and description. A documentation . In: Géza Jászai (Ed.): Monastic Westphalia. Monasteries and monasteries 800–1800. Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster 1982, ISBN 3-88789-054-X , p. 385 (exhibition catalog, Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, September 26, 1982 - November 21, 1982).
  • Franz Ignaz Pieler: Historical news about the Meschede monastery. In: Archive for the history and antiquity of Westphalia. 7, 1935/1838, ZDB -ID 400216-7 , pp. 7-41.
  • Michael Senger (Ed.): Klosterschicksale. On the history of the secularized monasteries in the Kurkölschen Sauerland. Westfälisches Schieferbergbau- und Heimatmuseum Holthausen , Holthausen 2003 ( Westfälisches Schieferbergbau- und Heimatmuseum Holthausen contributions 13).
  • Manfred Wolf: Meschede - Kanonissen, then collegiate monastery St. Walburga, in: Westfälisches Klosterbuch. Lexicon of the monasteries and monasteries established before 1815 from their founding to their abolition, Part 1 Ahlen - Mülheim, ed. by Karl Hengst, Münster 1992, pp. 582-587.
  • Manfred Wolf: Sources on the history of the monastery and freedom of Meschede. Aschendorff, Münster 1981, ISBN 3-402-05833-2 ( Westphalian documents 3), (Also called: Landeskundliche Schriftenreihe for the Sauerland region of Cologne 5).

Web links

Commons : St. Walburga, Meschede  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 51 ° 20 ′ 45 ″  N , 8 ° 16 ′ 59 ″  E