German Abbey Libraries

“A monastery without a library is like an army camp without an arsenal.�? ~Gottfried von Breteuil, around 1170

The Wiblingen Kloster (Abbey) is on the outskirts of the city of Ulm, Germany. Ulm is the birthplace of Albert Einstein. We live about an hour away and it’s beautiful to drive through the clean snow dusted countryside. During the winter, I often think about reading, so my inspiration for this trip was pure and simple: BOOKS.

The museum was modern and well-done and led us through a maze of rooms before we got to the actual library. It had to heat in the museum, but none in the library. No wonder the monks of old wore those heavy robes.

The library in this Abbey contains books so old they were made of wood and some were falling apart. I wish I could have climbed the stairs to the upper level, but that was a no-go.

This Abbey was founded in 1093 and was populated by Benedictine monks. It is nearly a thousand years old! I’m sure for many centuries it was a plain monastery until 1714 when it was renovated in the Baroque style that it is in currently. The library ceiling frescoes, painted by Januarius Zick, are considered some of the most important representations of this art form in the Württemberg region. Most monastery libraries held hymnbooks and a selection of other books.
When had a lovely elderly German man told us more history about the Abbey? The monks were driven out during the Napoleonic wars and Napoleon and his army used the abbey for quarters. They had an old uniform from that time and I foolishly forgot to take a picture. The abbey was also used to house soldiers during WW1 and later became a place to house misplaced people during WWII.

Next on the itinerary was the Bad Schussenried Abbey. This Abbey was in a quiet countryside near a quaint little village. Schussenried Monastery was founded in 1183 by Premonstratensian monks. This one is my favorite of the two as it was so light and a little larger than the former.

The books were not on display in this library, but behind the bookshelf, doors have hidden a collection that was, in its day, one of the most extensive. The architecture is a German Rococo. The ceiling painting was completed by Franz Georg Hermann in 1757 and depicts divine wisdom covering the Apocalypse, science, art, and technology.

The following are pictures of the museum and us having fun with the set of angel wings displayed.

We ended the day at the beautiful Wiblingen Monastery Church. The church boasts of owning a display that is said to have pieces of the original cross that Christ died on. It’s most likely a myth, but it’s an interesting idea.

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