Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey located in Austria, one of the most famous monastic sites in the world, erected in a dominant position over the city of Melk on a rocky outcrop on the side of the Danube River in the state of Lower Austria, near the Wachau Valley, is a rare example of a Benedictine monastery that has been continuously active since its foundation.
Stift Melk History
Almost exactly halfway between Vienna and Linz is a fascinating Baroque building, Melk Abbey, on a granite rock over the Danube, visible from afar, like a fortress. The dome of the collegiate church and the two towers adorned with gold, which look like hands raised to heaven, can be seen from afar.
Melk Abbey is one of the most impressive uniform Baroque buildings north of the Alps and at the same time the centerpiece of Austria's founding history.
The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria, donated one of his castles to the Benedictine monks of Lambach abbey. A school was founded there in the 12th century and the abbey library soon became famous for its large collection of manuscripts. In the 15th century the monastery became the heart of the reform movement called "Melk Reform", which helped to reinvigorate the monastic life of Austria and southern Germany.
Today's baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 by the architect Jakob Prandtauer. The main portal, perhaps designed by Antonio Beduzzi (1711), is surmounted by two large statues of Christ and of San Pietro and San Paolo (1738). The two statues on the columns on the sides of the east portal, San Leopoldo and San Colomano, were made in 1716 by Lorenzo Mattielli, a sculptor at the court of Vienna from Vicenza. Also the work of Mattielli are the angels that are above the tympanum of the portal itself.
Liturgy, divine service and hourly prayer have been one of the most important obligations of the Melk Monastery from the very beginning. "Nothing should be preferred to adoration," says St. Benedict in his rule for monks. This phrase could also be understood as a model for Melker's collegiate church. All the rooms are beautiful, but the "most beautiful", most magnificent room in which everything is exposed is the church. This clearly defines the importance of God's house and worship service down to our day.
In addition to worship, monks have always found their work in pastoral care and teaching. The original five founding parishes have now become 23 incorporated parishes to be followed by the Benedictines of Melk.
The monastery school, first mentioned in 1160, still exists today, currently has 940 students and is now the largest private Catholic school in Austria. The high school is run in a humanistic and modern linguistic branch and also as a lower secondary school with a scientific and a musical branch.
With the collegiate church, the monk community, the collegiate museum, the school, the monastery park, the historic-artistic building, the tourists, Melk Abbey becomes a lively place - something is moving. Movement is a necessary condition for life. Benedict expresses it in his Rule: