St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal

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St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal
View from the south. In the foreground the "Lobisserstöckl" (left) and the court judge building with main portal (center)

The St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal is a Benedictine order founded in 1091 in Lower Carinthia . His buildings are 400 m above sea level on a rocky knoll at the transition from the middle to the lower Lavant valley above the capital of the Carinthian market town of the same name . Most of the buildings in the extensive monastery complex that exist today were built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. The collegiate church, a Romanesque pillar basilica, which was built in the last third of the 12th century and completed in the early 13th century, is older.

The monastery was abolished in 1782/87 under Josef II , but was repopulated in 1809 by monks from the St. Blasien monastery . Apart from a further suspension in the time of National Socialism (1940-45), the St. Paul Abbey has been continuously maintained by the Benedictines since its foundation and is therefore the oldest monastery in Carinthia that is still active today. The abbey is of particular importance because of its extensive and valuable art and book collections. The abbey also operates the private St. Paul Abbey High School , to which around 700 students belong.



On the rocky crest on which the monastery complex is located today, there was probably an Illyrian or Celtic fortification, then probably a Roman fort, and in the Middle Ages, already documented, Lavant Castle. In the area of ​​this castle there was a church consecrated to St. Aegidius, which the Salzburg Archbishop Hartwig (991-1023) supposedly granted parish rights. This church was only demolished in 1618 in the course of renovations.

In the middle of the 11th century, the wealthy Countess Richardis von Lavant , from the Bavarian aristocratic family of the Sieghardinger , sat at Lavant Castle. She married Siegfried von Spanheim , a count in the Pustertal. Shortly before he took part in a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and died in Bulgaria in 1065, he had a second church built in honor of the Apostle Paul . His widow had the body brought home and buried in the church. She died a few years later on a pilgrimage and penance trip to St. Jakob di Compostella. She too was brought home and buried at her husband's side.

The donor fresco by Thomas von Villach (1493) depicts Engelbert I and his wife Hadwiga kneeling, shielded by St. Benedict and St. Catherine.

Engelbert von Spanheim , one of the couple's three sons, decided to found a monastery. It should correspond to the spirit of the Burgundian Benedictine Abbey of Cluny . He sent his son Engelbert II to the Swabian monastery in Hirsau , which had been following Cluny's reform ideas since 1079, to ask the local abbot Wilhelm for support for the establishment of St. Paul. This consented and sent twelve Hirsau monks as well as Wezelin (Wezilo), who had been appointed abbot from their ranks, to the Lavant valley. On May 1, 1091, Engelbert donated the St. Paul court and the town below to the new monastery, as well as other goods in the lower Lavant Valley, Styria and Friuli . In the early years, both the Hirsau Monastery and the Magdeburg Archbishop Hartwig von Spanheim , brother of the founder Engelbert, provided the monastery with manuscripts on liturgy and pastoral care. St. Paul soon had its own scriptorium and under the third abbot Wernher (1138–1159) also a school of scholars. Gradually, other goods came into the possession of the monastery, which soon became the most powerful and influential monastery in Carinthia.

At the request of the founders, Pope Urban II endowed the monastery with special protection privileges in 1099, for which the monks had to pay a symbolic Byzantine gold piece every year. Even if it was founded as a burial place of the Spanheimers and was under their protection, St. Paul was not an own monastery of the counts, but was transformed into a bailiwick under Urban II . The Pope appointed the Spanheimers as bailiffs, but at the same time gave the monks the opportunity to choose their own bailiff. In addition, the monastery's possessions were not allowed to be given out as fiefs . Innocent II renewed papal protection in 1140, also endowed the monastery with the privilege of the right of presentation for the spiritual occupation of the incorporated churches and made St. Paul subordinate to the Pope directly by means of the exemption privilege . The abbots of the monastery were loyal to the church at this time, but always tried to protect the emperor.

To protect the monastery, two castles, Rabenstein and Loschental, were built south of it and occupied by Spanheim ministers. The monastery itself initially bore the name of the landscape ( Lauent , Lauenda ) , like the castle before it , and only in the course of time received the name of the market at its feet. The rulers of the two castles belonged to the Pfannbergers until 1300 . From 1301 Rudolf von Fohnsdorf sat on Rabenstein as a fiefdom taker, his descendants called themselves Rabensteiner. With this sex, the monastery had to fight some feuds, some of which were bloody, which only subsided after St. Paul was able to add the immediate vicinity of the hilltop to his property between 1312 and 1426.

In 1367 a fire destroyed parts of the monastery complex, and the ceiling and the towers of the basilica also went up in fire. The destroyed parts of the building were repaired immediately.

Decline in the 15th and 16th centuries

In the course of a violent feud between Duke Friedrich and the Counts of Cilli , in which St. Paul Abbot Johann I (1432–1448) sided with the Duke, the soldiers of the Counts invaded the Lavant Valley and sacked the area , with the market and many other possessions of the monastery being destroyed. Abbot Johannes II von Esslinger (1455–1483) had the gates and walls of the monastery fortified, which saved the monastery from major damage in 1476 when the Lavant valley was again heavily devastated in the course of the Turkish wars and the St. Paul market was set on fire. The troops of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus , who invaded in 1480, also tried in vain to take the monastery.

Still, it took the monastery almost 50 years to recover from the destruction caused by the attacks. The taxes levied by the sovereign prince in the course of the Turkish wars, who regarded St. Paul as a chamber property and had them accordingly, made the economic development of the estates even more difficult. In order to finance the military defense against the first siege of Vienna by the Turks, Ferdinand I ordered the confiscation of the fourth part (the so-called "Quart") of all spiritual properties in 1529, which were then immediately sold. In addition, St. Paul also had to surrender jewels and valuables and take on guarantees.

There were also problems in the inner area of ​​the monastery in the 15th and 16th centuries that were not easy to deal with. Hermann von Schwanberg, for example, abbot of St. Paul from 1391, was unceremoniously removed from the Archbishop of Salzburg by the Bishop of Lavant in 1399 and replaced by Kaspar Fürholzer due to the neglect of his monastic duties. Hermann did not resign, however, so that for two years there were two abbots who made life difficult for each other. Duke Wilhelm finally put an end to this situation in 1401 by removing both abbots, forcing them to return the monastery property and having the convent elect a new abbot. As a result, the Archdiocese of Salzburg took the place of the papacy, which was in crisis at the time, gained the right to confirm the abbots of St. Paul and also exercised its influence in secular affairs. St. Paul got into another crisis under Abbot Ulrich von Pfinzing, a Nuremberg patrician son and favorite of Maximilian I. He was elected abbot by order of the emperor in 1515 and later ordained a priest, but led despite the existing financial difficulties of the monastery lavish lifestyle of a prince.

In the course of the 16th century, the Reformation period , which met with great echo in Carinthia , also had an impact on St. Paul. Two abbots of the monastery, Thomas Mur (1558–1576) and Andreas Schaffer (1576–1583), even openly confessed to being followers of Martin Luther . The former was confirmed by Salzburg, but his reign had a devastating effect on the monastery, so that he was finally deposed by Archduke Charles II in 1576. Then Andreas Schaffer was elected by the capitulars, but initially neither confirmed by the archbishop nor the sovereign. His lifestyle finally led to his dismissal in 1583. The time of his successor Vinzenz Lechner (1583-1616) was marked by a particularly unscrupulous administration. For example, he seized the rule of Faal (Fala) in Lower Styria, had himself personally registered as the owner in the land register and later handed the property over to his brother.

A visitation report from 1616 mentions only a few monks in the monastery whose level of education was so low that they did not even speak Latin.

Expansion from the 17th century

Abbot Hieronymus Marchstaller (portrait by Lorenz Glaber, 1629) initiated the redesign of the St. Paul Monastery.
The depiction of the monastery in the land register of Kollnitz around 1653 clearly shows the main features of today's facility. The fortifications in front of the church no longer exist today.

Hieronymus Marchstaller from Swabia was Abbot of St. Paul from 1616 until his death in 1638. Under his leadership, the monastery flourished again, which is why he is also referred to as the "second founder" of the monastery. He internally restored monastic disciplines, abolished the monks' private property and ensured that the staff, which at the time of his inauguration had eight monks and one novice in St. Paul, soon grew to thirty professed . Despite financial difficulties, Marchstaller arranged for numerous renovations and new buildings and, through economic skill, expanded the properties of the monastery, mainly acquiring goods in the surrounding area, including the neighboring Rabenstein Castle, with whose owners the monastery had repeatedly got into disputes repelled distant possessions.

From 1618, according to his plans, the new construction of the monastery building to its present form began. According to Marchstaller's ideas, the collegiate church should move into the center of the complex based on the example of the Spanish Escorial and be surrounded on all four sides by winged buildings. A reference to this vision of Marchstaller is a painting by the court painter Jakob Lorenz Glaber , which shows Saint Benedict in front of a mighty, closed monastery complex with four corner towers and a central tower on the south side. There is a second depiction on the church's donor altar, which was made in 1770 and shows the donor family with a similar plan.

The expansion of the complex began on the north side with the construction of the refectory , for which the Aegydi Church, the Gothic Jacob's Chapel and a tower were removed, while the existing gate tower south of the collegiate church was renovated. In front of the actual monastery buildings in the south, the two-storey court judge's building was built at the foot of the hill until 1627 and from 1627 a 2.5 kilometer long wall was drawn around the monastery hill starting from this. The new, representative main portal of the monastery was built in the southeastern part of the court judge building (1631–33). Numerous changes were made to the collegiate church by artists and craftsmen commissioned by Marchstaller.

The expansion started by Marchstaller was continued by his successors, Paul Memminger (1638–1660) and Philipp Rothenhäusler (1661–1677), who were also from Swabia, and Albert Reichhart (1677–1727). On July 7, 1637, a year before his death, Marchstaller laid the foundation stone for a new convent building, which was completed in 1640 under Paul Memminger, the work on the western part of the north wing was completed under Philipp Rottenhäusler. The west wing, which today houses the art collection and library, was built after 1653 and completed in 1683.

A contemporary representation of the monastery in the Urbar von Kollnitz (around 1653) shows that the monastery church was surrounded by buildings on all four sides at that time, but the complex only had a corner tower. Marchstaller's ideal that the monastery building of the “Carinthian Escorial” should have four corner towers like its model was presented by Johann Valvasor in his Topographia Archiducatus Carinthia (1688), but only one was actually built (1626, 1667 added).

Dissolution and re-establishment

In 1809
Franz I handed over the pen, which had been repealed in 1782/87, to Berthold Rottler .

From 1777 the St. Paul Abbey ran a grammar school, which initially only existed for a short time, because on October 7, 1782, Emperor Josef II ordered the dissolution of numerous monasteries, including St. Paul, by court decree. An intervention by Abbot Anselm II von Edling , who was the confessor of the sister of Joseph II, Archduchess Maria Anna , who lived in Klagenfurt , made it possible for the monks to return in the following year, but the high debt of the monastery led to it being repealed by the Kaiser on April 10, 1787. The goods were transferred to state administration, the books and manuscripts in the monastery library were moved to Klagenfurt and Graz, and a number of writings and works of art were lost.

On April 15, 1809, Berthold Rottler and monks from the dissolved St. Blasien monastery moved into the monastery in Sankt Paul (cross and ring of the prince abbot of St. Blasien were then worn as insignia of the abbot by the abbot in St. Paul). Rottler was the last prince abbot of the monastery in the Black Forest, which was abolished in 1806. He had held this office since 1801 and recognized early on that, due to the political circumstances, the abolition of his monastery was only a matter of time. Since St. Blasien was within the Habsburg possessions in front of Austria , before the entire Breisgau fell to the newly founded Grand Duchy of Baden in 1806, Rottler turned to Emperor Franz II to protect himself and his monks in the event of a repeal of the Habsburgs to ask for a new place to stay in Austria. Franz II agreed to this request in April 1806, and when St. Blasien was finally abolished by the new Baden rulers in October 1806, Prince Abbot Rottler moved with around 40 monks to the Spital am Pyhrn Abbey in Upper Austria, which was given to them by Franz II. had been assigned. Rottler had brought a large part of the art treasures and books from St. Blasien to safety in Switzerland long before that.

In return, the emperor demanded that the Klagenfurt grammar school and lyceum (today's European grammar school ) be occupied by scholars from the monastery. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Rottler sent teaching staff to Klagenfurt, where they were accommodated in the premises of the Franciscan monastery at St. However, the long distance between the hospital and Klagenfurt and the associated division of the convent as well as lengthy negotiations about the pay of the teachers soon caused dissatisfaction, so that Rottler asked the Viennese court to assign him the St. Pauler Stift in place of the Spitaler, there this is geographically much more favorable to Klagenfurt. After this request had been approved, Abbot Rottler and his monks left Spital am Pyhrn in April 1809 and moved into St. Paul. The important and elaborately designed Ramsey Psalter from the beginning of the 14th century, which was previously in Sankt Blasien, has been kept in St. Paul Abbey since then.

The main focus of the work of Bernhard Rottler, Abbot of St. Paul until his death in 1824, lay in the establishment of a functioning school system within the monastery: in the year of his arrival he had the St. Paul High School set up, and in 1812 he issued a new teaching position statutes adapted to the monastery and opened a Konvikt in 1817 .

After the death of Richard Strelli , the 54th abbot of St. Paul, the monastery was abolished in 1940 by the National Socialists and the school was converted into a National Socialist Political Education Institute (NAPOLA), which existed until the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945. After the war ended, the monks returned to St. Paul and in 1947 Paulus Schneider was elected 55th abbot. Under Schneider, who served until his death in 1979, the school system in St. Paul in particular experienced an upswing. His successor Bruno Rader devoted himself to the development of the monastery as a spiritual center and above all to culture. Under his direction, the first Carinthian regional exhibition took place in St. Paul in 1991 , which attracted almost 270,000 visitors.

Since then, exhibitions have been held regularly in the oldest still active monastery in Carinthia.

Abbots of St. Paul

Collegiate church

Building history

The collegiate church in its current form was built between the second half of the 12th and the first half of the 13th century. The upper floors and helmets of the two towers were built after the major fire of 1367.

At the highest point of the hill, surrounded to the west, north and east by monastery buildings, is the twin-towered collegiate and parish church of St. Paul . The construction of the first Romanesque basilica began in 1064 and was completed in 1065 after Siegfried's death. The consecration of a church is documented for the year 1093, i.e. two years after the founding of the monastery, but a new building is not yet accepted for this point in time, the first abbot of the monastery probably only had some adaptations carried out on the church buildings found.

The construction of the church that exists today was probably started under Abbot Pilgrim (1159–1192), while the old Paulskirche was removed. This building was completed under Ulrich I at the earliest between 1192 and 1222. When Pope Urban IV issued an indulgence in 1264 in favor of the imminent dedication of a church in St. Paul, it was no longer the one built in the 11th century Construction. However, there is still no clear historical evidence for the time of completion, the year of consecration in 1264 is probably related to the consequences of a Hungarian invasion of Carinthia in 1259, during which the market and the monastery building were also affected.

The church was also affected by the major fire of 1367, the damaged parts were then renewed, the most important change here was the drawing in of ribbed vaults in Gothic style and the rebuilding of the towers to their present shape. In 1375 the church was rededicated. The changes under Hieronymus Marchstaller include the renovation of the sacristy (1619), the construction of the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1621) and the design of the apse with stucco (1626).


The Gothic elevation of the gable on the south transept and on the choir is clearly visible.
The south portal

The collegiate church is a three-aisled Romanesque pillar basilica with a western double tower facade and a transept protruding strongly to the north and south . It is 56.5 m long and 19.5 m wide in the nave. Located on the eastern side of the transept, as well as on the outside wall of the choir conches . The central nave and the transept of the same height are covered with gable roofs , the southern of the two side aisles, which are half lower, have a pent roof and the three semicircular apses have conical roofs .

The main apse is decorated with five, the two side apses with three arcades each. In each of the central axes there is a semicircular window lined with columns. A profiled round arch frieze runs under the roof of the choir and transept , crowned by a zigzag and a wide chessboard band. This decoration is also continued along the exposed brickwork made of Koralpen marble. The gables of the choir and transept were raised by about two meters in the Gothic period and thus made steeper, which is clearly visible due to the fact that the Romanesque friezes were left. On the south side of the transept, traces of the vaults of the former Jacob's chapel can still be seen, which was added between 1325 and 1356, but was demolished again in 1618.

The lower parts of the two mighty towers are also made of ashlar. In the first three floors Romanesque building fabric is still preserved, and here they still have Romanesque, typical coupled windows on the second floor. In the upper three floors, which were renewed after the fire in 1367, there are Gothic double and triple windows, and they are crowned with pointed pyramid roofs. There are also large, gable-crowned clocks on three sides of the south tower.

Below the towers on the west facade there is a slightly protruding late Romanesque or early Gothic funnel portal, which was designed around the middle of the 13th century. In three recesses of the vestments there are slender octagonal columns with cap capitals , on the door posts two profiled quarter-circle consoles bearing the tympanum relief, the main motif of which is a Christ enthroned with a gesture of blessing and a scroll. Two bearded men kneel at his feet, the one on the right probably representing the patron saint of the monastery, the Apostle Paul, the other figure probably the abbot, at whose time the portal was built. A round-arched window is set in above the west entrance, the roof between the towers is designed as a monopitch roof.

Another portal is located on the south side of the church, it can be reached via a 15-step staircase. Its arch is carried by two crouching males - symbols of paganism - and shows the enthroned Mother of God with the baby Jesus on her lap, from the left the three wise men, on the right sits Saint Joseph and above between Mary and Joseph an angel hovers. The reliefs of both portals were made around the same time as that of the west portal. It is possible that both portals were built under Abbot Gerhard (1258–75) shortly before 1264, but the vestibule of the south portal, made from late Romanesque pieces, was not built until 1618. The originally much smaller and inconspicuous south portal was used by laypeople as access to the half of the church intended for them.


View through the central nave to the choir with the main altar
Jump vault in the north aisle

Through the west portal you enter the spacious and bright interior of the church through a vestibule enclosed by the two west towers. The Basilica is powerful abutment with the upstream half-columns in three vessels divided, wherein the width of the two aisles, taken together, the width of the main vessel, respectively. The nave of the church dates in the nave over five yokes , with the typical architecture for Hirsauer chorus minor , the choir for non-singers among the monks, in the nave is preferred. He takes the last yoke and separates himself from the naves and the transept by candle arches . At this point, a wall, the so-called rood screen , which extended over all three aisles originally separated the monk's church ( Ecclesia interior ) from the lay church ( Ecclesia exterior ). It was partially demolished in 1617 and finally completely in 1661.

In continuation of the central nave, the transept is adjoined by the separate, slightly raised choir , accessible via five steps , to the left and right of the choir there is a semicircular apse . The choir itself is also closed by a round apse, the diameter of which is twice that of the side apses. In the middle of the ribbed vault of the choir, the keystone in relief shows Saint Peter. The conche behind the choir is accentuated by a step in the ashlar stones. Slender columns are set in these, and a profiled cornice runs along the curvature of the capitals above the capitals. In the east wall of the choir there is a round arched window framed by columns.

The three naves of the church were vaulted after the great fire in 1367, which also destroyed the flat wooden ceiling, and under Abbot John II in 1468. The five-bay central nave bears a star rib vault over polygonal templates, with the last yoke between the west towers being set apart from this by a somewhat more complicated star rib shape. The two side aisles in the north and south are each four-bayed, the north is spanned by a spring vault, the south by a ribbed vault. In the central nave and in the side aisles, a yoke is vaulted with cross ribs, in the central part there is the coat of arms of Konrad III. (1358-1391). A total of 28 keystone and 24 four-pass paintings and frescoes are applied to the three vaults . The Romanesque columns of the partition arches (between the naves) bear cube, chalice and bud capitals from around 1190/1220.

The three-axis and two-bay organ gallery in the west of the central nave was installed in 1663. It stands over baluster columns and has a groin vault.

The interior of the church by the Styrian artist Philipp Jakob Straub dates from the 18th century.

The sacristy of the collegiate church connects to the north of the transept. The interior three-bay and groin-vaulted building was built in 1619. The portal of the sacristy was put together from marble work pieces from the unfinished tomb for Abbot Ulrich Pfinzing.

Habsburg crypt

Access to the crypt of the early Habsburgs

Behind the high altar , an exit to a small, cross-vaulted tomb room was discovered between 1626 and 1629. Here are the coffins of 14 early Habsburgs today :

  1. Karl (* 1276; † a few days after birth) - son of King Rudolf I , originally buried in Basel
  2. Hartmann (* around 1263; † 1281) - son of King Rudolf I, originally buried in Basel
  3. Gertrud von Hohenberg (* around 1225; † 1281) - wife of King Rudolf I, originally buried in Basel
  4. Friedrich (* 1316; † a few days after birth) - son of Friedrich the Beautiful , originally buried in Königsfelden
  5. Elisabeth von Görz-Tirol (* around 1262, † 1313) - wife of King Albrecht I , originally buried in Königsfelden
  6. Leopold I (* 1290; † 1326) - son of King Albrecht I, originally buried in Königsfelden
  7. Heinrich (* 1299; † 1327) - son of King Albrecht I, originally buried in Königsfelden
  8. Gutta (* 1302; † 1329) - daughter of King Albrecht I, wife of Ludwig VI. von Oettingen , originally buried in Königsfelden
  9. Catherine of Savoy (around 1297–1304; † 1336) - wife of Duke Leopold I , originally buried in Königsfelden
  10. Elisabeth von Virneburg (around 1303; † 1343) - wife of Duke Heinrich , originally buried in Königsfelden
  11. Katharina (* 1320; † 1349) - daughter of Duke Leopold I , wife of Enguerrand VI. de Coucy , originally buried in Königsfelden
  12. Elisabeth (* around 1285; † 1352) - daughter of King Albrecht I, wife of Frederick IV of Lorraine , originally buried in Königsfelden
  13. Agnes (* around 1281; † 1364) - daughter of King Albrecht I, wife of King Andrew III. of Hungary , originally buried in Königsfelden
  14. Leopold III. (* 1351; † 1386) - son of Duke Albrecht II , originally buried in Königsfelden

The coffins were exhumed in 1770 from the church of the Königsfelden monastery and from the Basel Minster and transferred to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Blasien in a festive ceremony . After the St. Blasien monastery was closed in 1809, the 14 coffins were brought to St. Paul via the Spital am Pyhrn monastery .

Nine years later, in 1818, the remains were buried in the collegiate church of St. Paul in a tumba built by the master builder Pietro Rudolfi from Udine. Since this tumba was soaked through due to construction defects, the rotted boxes had to be replaced in 1917 and the bones buried again the following year. The last reburial took place in 1936 after the Tumba was torn down, with the bones chests placed behind the high altar of the monastery church.


Two of the three chapels of the collegiate church, the Resurrection Chapel and the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows , were added to the west and east wing of the former cloister . The oldest of the three chapels, the so-called Rabensteiner Chapel, is now an extension of the later sacristy north of the church.

The Resurrection Chapel, designed in baroque style, is located in the transverse axis of the gallery. It has two bays and groin vaults, in its crypt are the bones of the abbot Albert Reichart (1677-1727). Of the stucco decoration of the chapel commissioned by him, only the band surrounding the entrance has survived. The forged iron grille in the upper part also dates from his tenure. In the chapel there is a group of life-size wooden statues; the work marked with the Risen Christ was made in the 19th century by Michael Stölz . The coat of arms of Albert Reichart († 1727) is embedded in the floor.

Like the Resurrection Chapel, the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows , built in 1621, has two bays and a groin vault. The paintings in the vault were made by Lorenz Glaber when it was built. They represent the 15 secrets of the rosary in eight medallions . The varied and extremely three-dimensional stucco decoration dates from around 1680/1690 and was probably designed by Gabriel and Johann Peter Wittini. Four wall paintings show scenes from the life of St. Benedict of Nursia .

The chapel, consecrated to St. Mary, but usually referred to as the Rabensteiner Chapel, is an extension on the east wall of the sacristy, where the entrance is also located. It was built in the last quarter of the 14th century at about the same time as the Gothic part of the west towers. Before that, a Romanesque predecessor building stood in its place, in which Abbot Dietrich was buried in 1284. The tombstone of the Rabensteiner, which was erected in the collegiate church today and was marked in 1350, should also come from the older chapel. The interior has two yokes and a 5/8 end . The ribbed vault was drawn in around 1390, its keystones are executed as reliefs. The chapel has large ogival windows, one of which is walled up on the north side. On the walls there are remains of paintings and frescoes from the time it was built. The furnishings (choir stalls, altar and tabernacle) were renewed in 1983, new glass windows were installed in 1985 and the chapel was re-consecrated in 1986.

Other structures

View of the north wing of the complex with the striking tower
Main portal of the monastery

There are still no precise records of the original monastery buildings. Only a few remains of the medieval complex have been preserved in today's complex. The west wing is very likely to rest on the old walls. The ensemble of the baroque monastery buildings, which were built between 1618 and 1683 with the exception of the southern part of the east wing, which was not built until 1846–48, is grouped around the Romanesque monastery church. The complex appears closed to visitors coming from the north, but to the south it opens up to the viewer, as the originally planned connection between the east and west wings has not been completed here or the fortifications south of the church have meanwhile been removed.

Court judge building with main portal

A 2.5 kilometer long wall encloses the area below the collegiate hill. The court judge's building is located on the south side. It consists of a west and a south wing, which are connected by a sloping central wing. The name of the building comes from the fact that the court and later district court was housed on the first floor; today there are apartments for monastery employees.

The representative main portal of the monastery is located in the south-eastern part. It is divided into three sections by four columns, with a round arched door opening in the middle. The cranked entablature above the columns is crowned on the left and right by a flat arch. Underneath are carved inscriptions, the left ABBATIA S. PAULI APOSTOLI and right FUNDATA ANO 1091 CAL. MAY ( Abbey of St. Apostle Paul, founded in May 1091 ). Another inscription is in the middle above the gate, above it is a marble plaque.

Convent building and courtyard

A steep path leads through the portal to the collegiate church on the highest point of the hill and to the monastery buildings surrounding it in the west, north and east. Its wings are two-story on the courtyard side and three to four-story on the outside. The west wing is 99 meters long, the north wing 138 meters and the eastern part 61 meters long. The west wing has a mighty, 30 meter wide and four storey south front. The outside of the north and west wings have no architectural structure, the windows are arranged at irregular intervals.

The only one of the four originally planned corner towers of the monastery is on the outside of the west and north wings. It was erected in 1626 and raised in 1667 so that it towers over the roofs of the monastery buildings. In the tower there was a vaulted cellarium, two bathing rooms and a lounge for the monks, which was connected to the summer refectory.

The inner courtyards have wide and open arcades , the two-story arcades enclose the church on three sides. The arcades, between 2.80 and 3.30 meters wide, with pillars over 1.40 meters wide, are open on the ground floor and glazed on the upper floor. The corridors are approximately 4.30 meters high and 4.45 meters wide. The stairs as well as the entrance doors to the buildings are kept simple, only the marble portal in the upper part of the west wing with a baroque frame, blown gable and a towering obelisk is remarkable.

In the west wing, which originally housed the prelature and several guest rooms, today houses the monastery museum with its rich collections, the living quarters of the monks are in the north and east wing. The southern extension, which was not built until 1846-48, is connected to the outer wall of the choir of the collegiate church by a narrow wall, which separates the northeastern part of the inner courtyard, including the Rabensteiner Chapel, from the rest of the inner courtyard.

The Paulus Fountain stands in front of the arcade of the western inner courtyard. Its stone basin bears the coat of arms of abbot Albert and is marked with the year 1719. In the middle of the hexagonal basin, decorated with a wrought iron grille, stands the stone statue of St. Paul. The column on which the statue is located has relief heads on its six sides, and water pipes come out of the mouths of three heads.

Meiereihof and Stiftsgarten

Meiereihof, seen from the collegiate hill. To the right of this is the garden.

Outside the monastery walls, south of the street that leads past the main portal, is the monastery Meiereihof . The stately building complex in the Biedermeier style was built from 1840, its four two-story wings, which were later supplemented by built-ins, enclose the not quite regular rectangular inner courtyard.

The farm buildings were planned and executed by the Udine-born master builder Pietro Rudolfi , who previously designed the garden to the west of the dairy farm, which is now enclosed by a wall, and had the two associated floors built in 1815/16. The garden as well as the two heels divided by pilaster strips and cornice strips were extensively renovated for the 2009 exhibition. In the southwest of the two small buildings, the so-called "Lobisserstöckel", was the studio of the woodcut master Switbert Lobisser from 1922 to 1932 .

Parishes and branch churches

There are four incorporated parishes belonging to St. Paul Abbey , all of which are subordinate to the St. Andrä deanery :

The St. Erhard branch church stands at the foot of the collegiate hill east of the Meierhof and thus belongs to the monastery building complex.

Art collection and library

Adelheid Cross (11th to 12th centuries)
Rubens Adoration of the Shepherds (around 1618)

The monastery art collection, which largely consists of works brought from St. Blasien to St. Paul, is mainly kept in the halls of the west wing.

The liturgical treasures include the Adelheid cross and two liturgical vestments: a bell chasuble from the second quarter of the 12th century and a cope from the 13th century.

The painting collection includes works by Peter Paul Rubens , Anthonis van Dyck , Albrecht Dürer , Hans Holbein and Kremser Schmidt, among others . Rubens' oil sketch Adoration of the Shepherds from around 1618 is the most valuable work of this collection; the altar painting, which his workshop carried out based on this sketch, is in the cathedral of Soissons .

The graphic collection of the monastery includes woodcuts, copper engravings, etchings and lithographs from the 15th to 19th centuries from all over Europe. Among them are four drafts for a dance of death , one of which is dated 1656; the gray wash pen drawings (25 × 20 cm), which u. a. Because of its similarity to the dance of death in the Franciscan monastery in Friborg, the following groups of people show their appearance with death: "Emperor and Empress", "King and Queen", "Duke and Duchess", "Abbess and nun".

In addition, the monastery has some valuable figurative sculptures, of which an ivory relief from the Metz school (around 900) that adorns a silver book cover from 1440, two small bronze crucifixes from the 11th and 12th centuries and a second are particularly worth mentioning silver book cover from the middle of the 13th century. The holdings also include numerous other handicrafts and an extensive numismatic collection with around 30,000 medals and coins.

The library, which was set up in 1683, was located, among other things, in a room in the east-facing part at the south end of the west wing. On the ceiling there are two circular paintings by Wolfgang Bernhard Veldner , which were made in 1683 and depict the eastern and western hemisphere. They are framed by stucco work by Gabriel Wittini. The library, which was largely housed in the basement on the occasion of the 2009 exhibition, contains over 180,000 volumes and 4,000 manuscripts from the 5th to 18th centuries. Since most of the St. Paul library was lost after it was abolished, most of the holdings come from the St. Blasien and Spital am Pyhrn monasteries , such as the main part of the Ramsey Psalter . The Gutenberg Bible from St. Blasien was sold to the USA in 1926. It is on display today in the Library of Congress . The St. Blasien Psalter is also worth mentioning .

Special exhibitions

  • From April 26th to November 8th, 2009, there was a parallel exhibition with the Werner Berg Museum : European Exhibition 2009. Power of the Word - Benedictine monasticism in the mirror of Europe.


School building of the collegiate high school

The collegiate high school of the Benedictines in Sankt Paul is a general education secondary school. It originally emerged from the Latin school of the monastery in 1777, after the abolition of the monastery by Joseph II it was re-established in 1809 at the same time as the revitalization and still exists today as a Catholic private high school of the Benedictines. The orthopedic surgeon Adolf Lorenz (1854–1946), a nephew of Gregor Ehrlich, who was abbot there, was one of the students at the Stiftsgymnasium . The current school building was built in 1901 and last renovated in 2001.


  • Carinthia's treasure house. State exhibition St. Paul 1991. 900 years of the Benedictine monastery. Volume I: Catalog . Carinthia University Press, Klagenfurt 1991, ISBN 3-85378-376-7
  • Carinthia's treasure house. State exhibition St. Paul 1991. 900 years of the Benedictine monastery. Volume II: Contributions . Carinthia University Press, Klagenfurt 1991, ISBN 3-85378-377-5
  • Karl Ginhart : The St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal. Self-published by the monastery, St. Paul im Lavanttal 1962 (4th edition)
  • Karl Ginhart: The art monuments of the Benedictine monastery St. Paul in Lavanttal and its branch churches. (= Austrian Art Topography, Volume 37). Vienna 1969
  • Gerfried Sitar: The Abbey in Paradise. The St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal . Schnell und Steiner publishing house, Regensburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-7954-2179-3 .

Web links

Commons : Stift St. Paul im Lavanttal  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ginhart 1962, p. 2
  2. ^ Hermann Wiessner: Castles and palaces around Wolfsberg, Friesach, St. Veit. 2nd edition, Birken-Verlag, Vienna 1964, without ISBN, p. 183
  3. a b c d Dehio Handbook Carinthia . Verlag Anton Schroll, Vienna 2001 (3rd edition), p. 793
  4. Ginhart 1962, p. 6.
  5. Sitar 2008, p. 27
  6. Adolf Lorenz: I was allowed to help. My life and work. (Translated and edited by Lorenz from My Life and Work. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York) L. Staackmann Verlag, Leipzig 1936; 2nd edition, ibid. 1937, p. 66.
  7. Sitar 2008, p. 39
  8. Ginhart 1962, p. 6
  9. See catalog Landesausstellung St. Paul 1991, Volume 1, Number 18.14, p. 317.
  10. Ginhart 1962, p. 34
  11. ^ Hermann Fillitz : The Adelheid Cross from St. Blasien . In: Carinthia's treasure house. State exhibition St. Paul 1991. 900 years of the Benedictine monastery. Volume II contributions . ISBN 3-85378-377-5 , pp. 665-680.
  12. Dora Heinz: The embroidered medieval robes from St. Blasien . In: Carinthia's treasure house. State exhibition St. Paul 1991. 900 years of the Benedictine monastery. Volume II contributions . ISBN 3-85378-377-5 , pp. 681-687.
  13. Hans Georg Wehrens: The dance of death in the Alemannic language area. "I have to do it - and don't know what" . Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7954-2563-0 . P. 213f.
  14. ^ Library of Congress
  15. European exhibition: Big crowd at the opening ( Memento from May 19, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), Kleine Zeitung , April 26, 2009
  16. European exhibition 2009

Coordinates: 46 ° 42 ′ 1.8 ″  N , 14 ° 52 ′ 21.9 ″  E