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Admont Abbey: the Benedictine monastery in Austria that contains the largest monastic library in the world

Marija Georgievska

Admont Abbey is the oldest remaining monastery in Styria located in the Enns River in the town of Admont, Austria. It contains the largest monastic library in the world and is widely known for its Baroque architecture, art, and manuscripts.

Located on the borders of the mountainous Gesause National Park, the Benedictine monastery is of extraordinary scenic beauty. Admon Abbey was founded in 1074 by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg and it was dedicated to Saint Blaise. It is said that the second abbot of the monastery, Giselbert, had introduced the Cluniac reforms there.

Admont Abbey on the Enns River. Photo Credit

Admont Abbey on the Enns River Photo Credit

 

 

It is known for its Baroque architecture, art, and manuscripts. Photo Credit

It is known for its Baroque architecture, art, and manuscripts Photo Credit

Another of the early abbots, Wolfhold, established a convent for the education of girls from noble families, and the educational tradition has been strong ever since. During the Middle Ages, the monastery prospered and possessed a productive scriptorium. Many works of Abbot Engelbert of Admont can be found in its library.

The abbey reached a high point of artistic productivity in the 17th and 18th century, with the works of the world-famous ecclesiastical embroiderer Brother Benno Haan. The monastery was destroyed in 1865 by fire, and the monastic archives were burned, but the library was salvaged. Reconstruction began the following year but was still not completed by 1890.

The present church was designed by the architect Wilhelm Bücher to replace the former church after the fire of 1865. Photo Credit

The present church was designed by the architect Wilhelm Bücher to replace the former church after the fire of 1865  Photo Credit

The present church was designed to replace the former church after the fire. It was designed by the architect Wilhelm Bicher and was inspired by Regensburg Cathedral. The Cathedral was the first sacred building in Austria in the neo-Gothic style.

Admont Abbey library. Photo Credit

Admont Abbey library Photo Credit

It was built with 12th-century Romanesque side doors and two west towers which are 67 meters tall. The façade contains figures of Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, and on the top of the pinnacle of the west door, there is a figure of the church’s patron Saint Blaise.

The library is the biggest monastic library in the world built in 1776. Its hall was designed by the architect Joseph Hueber, and it is 70 meters long, 14 meters wide and 13 meters high. It contains 70, 000 volumes of the monastery’s entire holdings of 200, 000 volumes. The ceiling was decorated with frescoes by Bartolomeo Altmonte showing the stages of human knowledge up to the high point of Divine Revelation.

Dedicated to Saint Blaise, Admont Abbey was founded in 1074 by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg. Photo Credit

Dedicated to Saint Blaise, Admont Abbey was founded in 1074 by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg Photo Credit

There are also museums in the monastery which are guarded by about 500 employees. The community at Admont consists of over 27 monks under Abbot Bruno Hubl.

Read another story from us: The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal had over 30,000 clay tablets, among them is the original “Epic of Gilgamesh”

The Abbey is responsible for 27 parishes, runs a secondary school with about 600 pupils and a nursing home in Frauenberg.