Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Cathedral Abbey Of Saint Gall, Switzerland. Fürstabtei Sankt Gallen.

Text is from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Deutsch: Bild der Abtei Sankt Gallen (Schweiz), Unesco-Weltkulturerbe.
English: The Abbey of Saint Gall, Switzerland.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Esperanto: Bildo de la Abatejo de Sankt-Galo (Svislando), monda heredaĵo de UNESCO.
This File: 1 February 2005.
User: Pjetter.
This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by Roland Zumbühl of Picswiss
as part of a co-operation project. If the direct link to the picture is not provided
(urls are subject to changes), you can find the picture starting from the
Canton of the subject : then the location.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Abbey of Saint Gall (German: Fürstabtei Sankt Gallen) is a Roman Catholic Religious Complex in the City of St. Gallen, in present-day Switzerland. The Carolingian-era Abbey has existed since 719 A.D., and became an Independent Principality during the 13th-Century, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine Abbeys in Europe.

It was founded by Saint Othmar on the spot where Saint Gall had erected his Hermitage. The Library, at the Abbey, is one of the richest Mediaeval Libraries in the world. Since 1983, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

English: Interior of the Abbey Church,
Saint Gall, Switzerland.
Norsk bokmål: Klosterkirken i St.Gallen.
Photo: 31 March 2011.
Source: Own work.
Author: 3s.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Deutsch: Barocksaal der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen.
English: The Library, Abbey of Saint Gallen, Switzerland.
Photo: 25 February 2008 (original upload date).
Source: Transferred from de.wikipedia
Author: Stiftsbibliothek St. GallenOriginal
uploader was Stibiwiki at de.wikipedia
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall was founded by Saint Othmar,
the founder of the Abbey of Saint Gall.
The Library collection is the oldest in Switzerland, and is one of earliest and most important
Monastic Libraries in the world. It holds 2,100 manuscripts dating from the 8th-Century up to the 15th-Century, 1,650 incunabula (printed before 1500), and old printed books. The Library holds almost 160,000 volumes. The manuscript B of the Nibelungenlied is kept here.
The Library books are available for public use, but the books printed before 1900
must be read in the Reading Room.
The Library Hall, designed by the architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo Style, is considered
the most beautiful non-Sacred room of this style in Switzerland and one of the most
perfect Library Rooms in the world.
In 1983, the Library, together with the Abbey of Saint Gall, were made a World Heritage Site, as 'a perfect example of a great Carolingian Monastery'.
A Virtual Library was created to provide access to the manuscripts — Codices Electronici Sangallenses. Currently more than 400 manuscripts are preserved in digital format.

Deutsch: Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen.
English: The Library, Abbey of Saint Gallen, Switzerland.
Photo: 16 October 2006.
Source: St Gallen Library
Uploaded by
Author: chippee
(Wikimedia Commons)

Around 613 A.D., an Irish Monk, named Gallus, a disciple and companion of Saint Columbanus, established a Hermitage on the site that would become the Abbey. He lived in his Cell until his death in 646 A.D. Following Gallus' death, Charles Martel appointed Othmar as custodian of Saint Gall's Relics. During the reign of Pepin the Short, in the 8th-Century, Othmar founded the Carolingian-Style Abbey of Saint Gall, where arts, letters and sciences flourished. Several different dates are given for the foundation of the Abbey, including 719 A.D., 720 A.D., 747 A.D.

Under Abbot Waldo of Reichenau (740 A.D. – 814 A.D.), copying of manuscripts was undertaken and a famous Library was gathered. Numerous Anglo-Saxon and Irish Monks came to copy manuscripts. At Charlemagne's request, Pope Adrian I sent distinguished Chanters from Rome, who propagated the use of the Gregorian Chant.

The Abbey of Saint Gall, Switzerland.
Available on YouTube at

In the subsequent Century, Saint Gall came into conflict with the nearby Bishopric of Constance, which had recently acquired jurisdiction over the Abbey of Reichenau, on Lake Constance. It was not until King Louis the Pious (814 A.D. – 840 A.D.) confirmed the independence of the Abbey, that this conflict ceased. From this time, until the 10th-Century, the Abbey flourished.

It was home to several famous scholars, including Notker of Liège, Notker the Stammerer, Notker Labeo and Hartker (who developed the Antiphonal Liturgical Books for the Abbey). During the 9th-Century, a new, larger, Church was built and the Library was expanded. Manuscripts on a wide variety of topics were purchased by the Abbey and copies were made. Over 400 manuscripts from this time have survived and are still in the Library.

Between 924 A.D., and 933 A.D., the Magyars threatened the Abbey and the books had to be removed to Reichenau Abbey for safety. Not all the books were returned. In 937 A.D., the Abbey was almost completely destroyed in a fire; the Library was undamaged, however. About 954 A.D., the Monastery and buildings were surrounded by a wall to protect the Abbey, and the town grew up around these walls.

Gregorian Chant was sung in Saint Gall Abbey,
beginning in the 8th-Century.
Available on YouTube at

Pope Adrian I (Latin: Hadrianus)
was Pope from
1 February 772 A.D., to his death in 795 A.D.
He sent Gregorian Chanters from Rome to the Abbey of Saint Gall.
He was the son of Theodore, a Roman nobleman.
(Google Images)

In the 13th-Century, the Abbey and the town became an Independent Principality, over which the Abbots ruled as Territorial Sovereigns, Ranking as Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. As the Abbey became more involved in local politics, it entered a period of decline. During the 14th-Century, Humanists were allowed to carry off some of the rare Texts.

In the Late-14th- and Early-15th-Centuries, the farmers of the Abbot's personal estates (known as Appenzell, from Latin: abbatis cella, meaning "cell" (i.e. estate) of the Abbot) began seeking independence. In 1401, the first of the Appenzell Wars broke out, and following the Appenzell victory at Stoss, in 1405, they became allies of the Swiss Confederation in 1411.

During the Appenzell Wars, the town of St. Gallen often sided with the Appenzell against the Abbey. So, when the Appenzell allied with the Swiss, the town of St. Gallen followed just a few months later. The Abbot became an ally of several members of the Swiss Confederation (Zürich, Lucerne, Schwyz and Glarus) in 1451, while both the Appenzell and St. Gallen became full members of the Swiss Confederation in 1454. Then, in 1457, the town of St Gallen became officially free from the Abbot.

Deutsch: Das Wappen der Fürstabtei St. Gallen, Schweiz.
English: Coat of arms of the principal abbey of Saint-Gall, Switzerland.
Source: Coat-of-Arms of the City of St. Gall;
Colour modification of Coa stgallen.svg by Filzstift.
Author: sidonius.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1468, the Abbot, Ulrich Rösch, bought the County of Toggenburg from the representatives of its Counts, after the family died out in 1436. In 1487, he built a Monastery at Rorschach, on Lake Constance, to which he planned to move. However, he encountered stiff resistance from the St. Gallen citizenry, other Clerics, and the Appenzell nobility in the Rhine Valley, who were concerned about their holdings.

The town of St Gallen wanted to restrict the increase of power in the Abbey and simultaneously increase the power of the town. The Mayor of St. Gallen, Ulrich Varnbüler, established contact with farmers and Appenzell residents (led by the fanatical Hermann Schwendiner), who were seeking an opportunity to weaken the Abbot.

Initially, he protested to the Abbot and the representatives of the four sponsoring Confederate Cantons (Zürich, Lucerne, Schwyz, Glarus) against the construction of the new Abbey in Rorschach. Then, on 28 July 1489, he had armed troops from St. Gallen and the Appenzell destroy the buildings already under construction. When the Abbot complained to the Confederates about the damages and demanded full compensation, Varnbüler responded with a counter suit and, in co-operation with Schwendiner, rejected the arbitration efforts of the non-partisan Confederates.

The Collegiate Church of Saint Gallen.
Available on YouTube at

He motivated the Clerics from Wil to Rorschach to discard their loyalty to the Abbey and spoke against the Abbey at the Town Meeting at Waldkirch, where the Popular League was formed. He was confident that the four sponsoring Cantons would not intervene with force, due to the prevailing tensions between the Confederation and the Swabian League. He was strengthened in his resolve by the fact that the people of St. Gallen elected him again to the highest Magistrate in 1490.

However, in early 1490, the four Cantons decided to carry out their duty to the Abbey and to invade the St. Gallen Canton with an armed force. The people of Appenzell and the local Clerics submitted to this force without noteworthy resistance, while the City of St. Gallen braced for a fight to the finish. However, when they learned that their compatriots had given up the fight, they lost confidence; the end result was that they concluded a Peace Pact that greatly restricted the City's powers and burdened the City with serious penalties and reparations payments. Varnbüler and Schwendiner fled to the Court of King Maximilian and lost all their property in St. Gallen and Appenzell. However, the Abbot's reliance on the Swiss, to support him, reduced his position almost to that of a "subject district".

The town adopted the Reformation in 1524, while the Abbey remained Catholic, which damaged relations between the town and Abbey. Both the Abbot and a representative of the town were admitted to the Swiss Tagsatzung or Diet, as the closest associates of the Confederation.

Musique et poésie à Saint-Gall.
Available on YouTube at

In the 16th-Century, the Abbey was raided by Calvinist groups, which scattered many of the old books. In 1530, Abbot Diethelm began a restoration that stopped the decline and led to an expansion of the schools and Library.

Under Abbot Pius (1630 – 1674), a Printing Press was started. In 1712, during the Toggenburg War, also called the Second War of Villmergen, the Abbey of Saint Gall was pillaged by the Swiss. They took most of the books and manuscripts to Zürich and Bern. For security, the Abbey was forced to request the protection of the townspeople of St. Gallen. Until 1457, the townspeople had been serfs of the Abbey, but they had grown in power until they were protecting the Abbey.

Following the disturbances, the Abbey was still the largest Religious City-State in Switzerland, with over 77,000 inhabitants. A final attempt to expand the Abbey resulted in the demolition of most of the Mediaeval Monastery. The new structures, including the Cathedral, were designed in the Late-Baroque Style and constructed between 1755 and 1768. The large and ornate new Abbey did not remain a Monastery for very long. In 1798, the Prince-Abbot's Secular Power was suppressed, and the Abbey was Secularised. The Monks were driven out and moved into other Abbeys. The Abbey became a separate See, in 1846, with the Abbey Church as its Cathedral and a portion of the Monastic buildings for the Bishop.

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is recognised as one of the richest Mediaeval Libraries in the world. It is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of Early-Medieval books in the German-speaking part of Europe. As of 2005, the Library consists of over 160,000 books, of which 2,100 are hand-written. Nearly half of the hand-written books are from the Middle Ages and 400 are over 1000 years old.

The Cathedral Abbey of Saint Gall, Switzerland.
Available on YouTube at

Lately, the Stiftsbibliothek has launched a project for the digitisation of the priceless manuscript collection, which currently (December 2009) contains 355 documents that are available on the Codices Electronici Sangallenses web-page.

The Library Interior is exquisitely realised in the Rococo Style, with carved polished wood, stucco and paint used to achieve its overall effect. It was designed by the architect Peter Thumb and is open to the public. In addition, it holds exhibitions, as well as concerts and other events.

One of the more interesting documents in the Stiftsbibliothek is a copy of Priscian's Institutiones grammaticae, which contains the poem Is acher in gaíth in-nocht . . . written in Old Irish.

The Library also preserves a unique 9th-Century document, known as the Plan of St. Gall, the only surviving major architectural drawing from the roughly 700-year period between the Fall of the Roman Empire and the 13th-Century. The Plan drawn was never actually built, and was so named because it was kept at the famous Mediaeval Monastery Library, where it remains to this day. The Plan was an ideal of what a well-designed and well-supplied Monastery should have, as envisioned by one of the Synods, held at Aachen, for the Reform of Monasticism in the Frankish Empire during the early years of Emperor Louis the Pious (between 814 A.D., and 817 A.D.).

St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Available on YouTube at

A Late-9th-Century drawing of Saint Paul, lecturing an agitated crowd of Jews and Gentiles (part of a copy of a Pauline Epistle produced at, and still held by, the Monastery) was included in a Mediaeval-drawing show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, in the summer of 2009. A reviewer noted that the artist had "a special talent for depicting hair . . . with the Saint's beard ending in curling droplets of ink."

In 1983, the Abbey of Saint Gall was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "a perfect example of a great Carolingian Monastery".

Saint Gall Abbey is noted as an early user of Neume, the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation. The earliest extant manuscripts are from the 9th- or 10th-Centuries.

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