The archabbey of St. Peter, in German Erzabtei Sankt Peter is a large monastery that stands in the center of Salzburg, Austria. Located between Domplatz and the Mönchsberg rock face, it develops around three courtyards. Of ancient origins, the medieval complex was later baroque. In the German-speaking area it is the oldest monastery to boast a continuous history since its foundation.
Erzabtei Sankt Peter History
A place of Christian worship already stood on this site in ancient times. In fact, the first was built by San Severino around 453, when he arrived in Norico to evangelize it. The Abbey, dedicated to San Pietro, was founded in 696 by San Ruperto, the first city bishop, with the aim of transmitting missionary work in the Eastern Alps. The monastic foundation was according to the mixed rule of San Colombano and San Benedetto, until the general Benedictine reform of Benedetto d'Aniane. The monastery was closely linked to the diocese, so much so that until 987 the bishop of Salzburg was also its abbot; and until 1110 he resided in the abbey.
In the Middle Ages, the Abbey of San Pietro was very renowned for its excellent writing school. In 1074 Bishop Gebhard sent 12 monks from San Pietro in Styria to found Admont Abbey there. In the fifteenth century the abbey embraced the Melk Reformation, capable of bringing monastic life back to the rigor dictated by the Rule of San Benedetto. A certain alignment of monastic life with common times of prayer and the struggle against the secularization of monks and abbots. In 1623 Archbishop Paride Lodron founded the Benediktiner-Universität, the Benedictine University in Salzburg, which until its dissolution in 1810 was closely connected to the abbey.
In 1641 the abbey was the head of the new Congregation of Salzburg, merged in 1930 into the present Congregation of Austria (of which it is the main house) of the Benedictine Confederation.
In 1926 efforts to recreate a Catholic university led to the foundation of the Studienkollegs der Benediktiner, "Benedictine college", the basis for the re-foundation of the University of Salzburg.
In 1927, San Pietro was elevated to the rank of Arciabbazia. In 1938, with the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany, the abbey premises were seized and the monks expelled. However, the monastery was never dissolved and the monks returned there after the war.
The current abbey church, with a basilica plan and transept, was erected between 1130 and 1143 on the site of the previous Carolingian church; and dedicated to San Pietro in 1147.
The main organ was built in 1444 by the organ builder Heinrich Traxdorf from Mainz. In 1605-06 the church began to be transformed into a Renaissance style, in 1619-20 it was laid hand to hand in sails and in 1622 the dome was built.
Under the abbot Beda Seeauer the building is baroque. In 1756 the bell tower was erected with the characteristic bulb crown covered with copper plates; at the same time, inside, Franz Xaver König creates the frescoes of the central nave with Scenes from the Life of Saint Peter on the vault; of the Life of San Benedetto on the left wall; and Vita di San Ruperto on the right. Of the vaults and walls of the transept, and finally of the drum and the pendentives of the dome with Scenes from the Old Testament and the Fathers of the Church, completed in 1760.
Between 1760 and 1766, Benedikt Zöpf decorated the vault of the central nave with delicate rococo pastel colored stuccos and in 1768 Ph. Hinterseer created the beautiful wrought iron gilded gate of the entrance. Between 1775 and 1782 Martin Johann Schmidt painted the church altarpieces: the Adoration of the Virgin by Saints Peter and Paul, in the high altar, and those of the altars and frontispieces of the side chapels, added in the eighteenth century. At the end of the nave is the beautiful Baroque organ exhibition from 1618-20, later modified in 1762-63.
Mozart's Mass in C minor K 427 was composed for this church, and performed for the first time on October 26, 1783, with his wife Constanze Weber as soprano.
Next to the altar where San Ruperto is buried are the tombs of Mozart's sister, Maria Anna (Nannerl), and Michael Haydn.
St. Peter's Abbey houses Austria's oldest library. The most valuable of the 800 manuscripts is the so-called Verbrüderungsbuch, "Book of brotherhood", created in 784 at the behest of Bishop Virgil. Over the centuries the library has grown to around 100,000 volumes concerning: Benedictine monasticism, the history of the medieval church, the history of art and Salzburg, etc. Special collections are represented by incunabula and old prints, as well as the cartographic collection collected by Father Gregor Reitlechner.
In 1768 the abbot Beda Seeauer decided to restructure and modernize the library. Thus he rebuilt the medieval Zellenbibliothek in today's forms, in the rococo style. It was restored in 1999 and is accessible only with a special permit. The library can be used by appointment.
The catacombs is one of the most spectacular places in the cemetery are the catacombs carved into the rock of Mount Mönchsberg. The mystical caves date back to late antiquity and served both as hermitages and as places for burials. The catacombs of early Christian origin can be visited all year round. Entrance is free with the Salzburg Card.
The Stiftskeller St. Peter restaurant is located within the walls of the St. Peter's Abbey in Salzburg. It is said to be the oldest inn in Central Europe due to an alleged mention in the anthology of Carmina by the English scholar Alcuin of York, published in AD 803. in the service of Emperor Charlemagne and Bishop Arno of Salzburg. The monastery cellar and its beer are allegedly praised in a poem, which however mentions neither beer nor a place. The old Benedictine monks' pension was also mentioned by the monk of Salzburg in the 14th century. Based on these and other claims, the Stiftskulinarium is perhaps the oldest existing restaurant in the world. Christopher Columbus, Johann Georg Faust and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are said to have been served at the restaurant.
Refined atmospheres, environment with classic and antique furniture, libraries of historical books, much use of inlaid wood, the restaurant is truly a museum to visit. If then we put that the cuisine is also remarkable and the wine list is respectable, with a good selection of wineries and Austrian wines (useful for knowing a wine area), then it is a must for those visiting Salzburg, where is located.
In Stiftskeller St. Peter dined celebrities of all kinds, but it is not only its antiquity that makes this place known, but also the "Mozartian dinners" or rather dinner dates dedicated to the musician, with an orchestra in costume of the era that carries out the works and a fixed menu of Austrian specialties
Bakery St. Peter: Inside the monastery there is a bakery. The visitor can reach the abbey bakery from Kapitelplatz or from the San Pietro cemetery. You can see the water wheel built in 2006, a small power plant that manages, among other things, a stone mill in the vestibule of the abbey oven.
You can immediately notice the characteristic aroma of black bread baked in a wood oven. If you arrive early, you can even follow the manual cooking process, because it is sold directly out of the oven.