Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Hildegard Abbey

David recently had some posts about Beuronese art (see here and here). This made me think of the Abbey of St. Hildegard in Rüdesheim-Eibingen, which I had the opportunity to visit. The abbey is the continuation of the abbey founded by St. Hildegard herself in 1165, even though it is a new foundation by the Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg in 1900 after the old monastery had been dissolved in the secularisation of 1803. As such, it belongs to the Beuronese congregation and is a daughter house of the first women's monastery of that congregation, St. Gabriel in Prague (initially, the Prince had wanted his daughter, a nun of St.Cécile in Solesmes, to be the first abbess, but she died in 1896). Whereas the architect was Fr. Ludger Rincklagen OSB, a monk of Maria Laach abbey, the interior painting was done by Fr. Paulus Krebs OSB, a monk of Beuron itself, and his pupils. Unfortunately, much of that - particularly in the nuns' choir - was lost in what the monastery's webpage itself does not hesitate to call the iconoclasm of the 1960s, but the painting of the nave largely remains. Here are some pictures I took at my visit (click for larger versions):

A view into the nuns' choir. The nuns sing the entire office in Latin Gregorian chant, according to the Ordinary Form.

This is the link to a picture gallery where you can see some photographs of the original state of the church, as well as of the life at the abbey around 1900.

Here are some of my pictures of the exterior of the abbey, situated in the beautiful vineyards of the Rheingau above Rüdesheim on the River Rhine:

In the parish church of Eibingen (which is now a part of Rüdesheim) below the abbey, which is the original site of the abbey, is the shrine with the relics of St. Hildegard:

In the same church is the treasure of relics, which St. Hildegard collected, to which belong among others the head of St. Gudula, one of the national saints of Belgium and Patroness of Brussels, the arm of St. Rupert of Bingen, to whom St. Hildegard dedicated her first monastery, and the heads of St. Berta, Rupert's mother, as well as Sts. Valerian and Wipert:

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