Stift St. Paul im Lavanttal

Hauptstraße, 1 - 9470 Sankt Paul im Lavanttal - Wolfsberg   see map - Contact
Saint Paul's Abbey in Lavantall (German: Stift St. Paul im Lavanttal) is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1091 near the present-day market town of Sankt Paul im Lavanttal in the Austrian state of Carinthia. The rooms centered on the Romanesque monastery church were largely rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 17th century. The abbey was dissolved in 1782 by decree of the emperor Joseph II, but was resettled in 1809 with the monks who descended from the San Biagio's in the Black Forest.

Stift St. Paul im Lavanttal History

The abbey was founded by Count Sponheim Engelbert I, margrave of Istria from 1090, on the site of an ancient castle and a church consecrated by Archbishop Hartwig of Salzburg in 991. Follower of Pope Gregory VII and Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg in Investiture Polemic with the Emperor Henry IV, Engelberto had renounced his county in the Tyrolean Val Pusteria but could retire in the Carinthian estates that his father Siegfried I of Spanheim had acquired through his marriage to the local aristocrat Richgard.

A second church dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle had already been erected on the spot by Count Siegfried I. In 1085 Engelbert sent his eldest son, Engelbert II, to Abbot William of Hirsau in Swabia. He returned to Carinthia with twelve Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Hirsau, who received the church and monastery of St. Paul on May 1, 1091, along with large estates in the Lavant valley, in the March of Styria and in Friuli. Thus the count Engelbert continued the tradition of different foundations of Benedictine monasteries in the Carinthian duchy, such as the Abbey of St. George, Längsee around 1000, the Abbey of Ossiach around 1024, the convent of Gurk in 1043 and the Abbey of Millstatt around 1070. In April 1095 he joined the same monastic community and died in the Abbey of St. Paul the following year.

Supported by the subsidies of the abbey of Hirsau and Engelbert's brother, Archbishop Hartwig of Magdeburg, the monastery prospered rapidly and, with its scriptorium and grammar school, became the most significant abbey of Carinthia. Pope Urban II put him under papal protection in 1099 and prevented its development into a monastery that owned the Sponheim dynasty. The ecclesiastical reserve was renewed by Pope Innocent II, who decreed the exemption of the abbey in 1140, while the Sponheims, who ruled the Dukes of Carinthia from 1122, served as protectors of Vogt.

The abbots had to cope with the resentment of the local nobility and sought protection from both the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. During the 15th century conflict of the Habsburg Duke Frederick III with the counts of Celje, the troops of Count Ulrich II devastated the premises. The abbey was again devastated by the Ottoman forces in 1476 and besieged by the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus in 1480. In the first Ottoman-Habsburg wars, the Habsburg sovereigns increasingly cluttered the monastery of tributes. They rivaled the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg to exert influence, while the convent life declined. In the 16th century, much of Carinthia became a Protestant and two abbots were declared deposed by Archduke Charles II of inner Austria.

The rebirth of Saint Paul began under Hieronymus Marchstaller, abbot from 1616. The premises abandoned around the church of the monastery were rebuilt according to the plans modeled on the Spanish Escorial. The reconstruction was completed under Marchstaller's successors until 1683.

In 1782/87 the emperor Joseph II dissolved the monastery and nationalized his possessions, however, in 1809, under the abbot Dr. Berthold Rottler, the monks of the abbey of San Biagio in the Black Forest, also just dissolved, they moved into the premises. In 1940 the abbey was again dissolved by the National Socialists but the monks managed to return when it was reopened in 1947. Today it is the oldest operating monastery in Carinthia.

From 1641 the abbey was a member of the Salzburg Congregation, which in 1930 was merged into the current Austrian Congregation of the Benedictine Confederation.

Stift St. Paul im Lavanttal

Time period
  • Middle Ages
  • Austria, Wolfsberg
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Stift St. Paul im Lavanttal
  Hauptstraße, 1 - 9470 Sankt Paul im Lavanttal
  +43 4357 2019 30

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