Abbey of Saint Florian


Location: Sankt Florian, 19km (12 miles) Southeast of Linz, Upper Austria Map

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Abbey of St. Florian

The baroque Sankt Florian Abbey, one of the largest and most famous monasteries in Austria, is located in the market town of St. Florian near Linz in Upper Austria. The collegiate church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (patrocinium August 15) is a parish church and basilica minor. It belongs to the Deanery of Enns-Lorch in the Diocese of Linz. The monastery basilica and the monastery building are under monument protection.

A community of Augustinian canons has existed here since 1071, today called the Congregation of Austrian Augustinian Canons. The magnificent, almost intact baroque building with the monastery basilica was created by the architects Carlo Antonio Carlone, Jakob Prandtauer and Johann Gotthard Hayberger between 1686 and 1751.



The origin of the St. Florian monastery is not proven by any documents. The first written sources date from the end of the 8th century. A tradition from the 9th century, the Passio Floriani, tells of the martyrdom of the first Christian known by name in what is now Austria: Saint Florian, who initially worked in the civil administration of the Roman Empire. When he later publicly professed Christianity in the course of the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he was tortured and thrown into the Enns river, where he died. According to the Passio Floriani, a writing in which the martyrdom of the later Saint Florian was described, he was buried in 304 at the place where the collegiate church is located. This suggests a tradition of worship of the eponymous saint in St Florian from the 4th century.

The first written evidence of a monastery complex dates back to the Carolingian period in 819. In 1071 Bishop Altmann von Passau introduced the Augustinian rule. Until then, St. Florian was a monastery for secular canons. With the introduction of the rule, the canons became religious, who from then on took religious vows. Since then they have performed monastic and pastoral tasks (the monastery oversees 33 incorporated parishes).

The first known church building dates from the end of the 11th century. It was destroyed in a fire in 1235, but was immediately rebuilt afterwards.

In 1140/50 the giant bible of St. Florian was created in the scriptorium of the monastery, a work of art of Romanesque illumination.

In December 1162, the monastery acquired the first parish outside of Upper Austria. Along with the parent parish of St. Michael in the Wachau, its branches St. Margareta and St. Ulrich in Mühldorf and St. Florian in Wösendorf were also taken over. In 1258 the Wachau branches in Weißenkirchen and the reading farm including vineyards in Weinzierl in the eastern municipality of Krems were added.

In the 19th century, the monastery developed into the center of Upper Austrian historical research, with Franz Xaver Pritz and Jodocus Stülz as its most important representatives. From 1848 to 1855 the composer and musician Anton Bruckner worked as organist; he is buried directly under the Bruckner organ built by Franz Xaver Krisman.

In January 1941 the monastery was confiscated and expropriated by the Gestapo. The canons and their then provost Vinzenz Hartl were expelled, but were able to continue their monastic life in Pulgarn Monastery near Steyregg. From 1942, the Reichsrundfunkgesellschaft had its headquarters here under its general director Heinrich Glasmeier. After the end of the Second World War, the canons were able to return to the monastery.

After Leopold Hager, Johannes Zauner (* 1913 Walding; † September 24, 1977 in St. Florian) and Wilhelm Neuwirth (1977-2005), Johannes Holzinger has been the 57th provost of Sankt Florian since 2005. The monastery currently has 30 canons (as of January 2021).


List of provosts

The list of prelates is largely based on the magnificent manuscript, which was commissioned by Provost Johann Georg Wiesmayr in 1740 by the Florian canon Johann Evangelist Pachl (1677–1744) and transferred to parchment in decorative handwriting by the valet Karl Anselm Heiss.

Hartmann, officiated 1071-1099, first provost of the 1071 reformed monastery
Isimbert, officiated 1099–1123
Dietmar I, officiated 1124–1152
Henry I, officiated 1153–1172
Engelbert I, officiated 1172–1202
Otto, officiated 1203-1213, from 1214 Bishop of Gurk
Altmann, officiated 1213–1223
Bernhard, officiated 1224–1240
Dietmar II, officiated 1240–1250
Arnold I, officiated 1250–1256
Sibito, officiated 1257–1258
Arnold II, officiated 1258–1271
Conrad, officiated 1272–1277
Ulschalk, officiated 1277–1283
Ulrich von Patnanger (* in Enns), officiated 1283–1295
Einwik Weizlan (* in Enns), officiated 1295–1313
Henry II of Marsbach, officiated 1314–1321
Wernher von Winkel, officiated 1322–1331
Henry III Piber, officiated 1331–1350
John I, officiated 1350–1353
Weigand Mosinger, officiated 1354–1372
Albert of Rana, officiated 1372–1381
Stephan Zainkgraben (Zeingraben), officiated 1382–1407
Jodok I Pernschlag, officiated 1407–1417
Kaspar I Seisenecker, officiated 1417–1436
Lukas Fridensteiner von Maur, officiated 1436–1459, received the pontificals from Pope Pius II Piccolomini (1458–1464), i. H. that from this point on he was allowed to wear episcopal insignia and perform episcopal official acts.
Johann II Stieger, officiated 1459–1467
Kaspar II Vorster, officiated 1467–1481
Peter II Sieghartner, officiated 1481–1483
Leonhard Riesenschmied (* in Lembach im Mühlkreis), officiated 1483-1508
Peter III Maurer (* in St. Florian), officiated 1508-1545, resigned as provost
Florian Muth (born 1491 in St. Florian), officiated 1545–1553
Siegmund Pfaffenhofer (* in St. Florian), officiated 1553–1572
Georg I Freuter (* in Coburg), officiated 1573–1598
Vitus (Veit) Widmann († January 20, 1612), officiated 1599–1612
Leopold I. Zehetner (* 1573 in St. Florian; † September 30, 1646), officiated as provost 1612-1646
Mathias Gotter (* in Krummau), officiated as provost 1646-1666
David Fuhrmann (* 1621 in Straubing; † October 6, 1689 in Linz), officiated 1667-1689, first Lateran abbot
Matthäus I von Weißenberg (* 1644 in Steyr; † 1700 in St. Florian), officiated as provost 1689-1700
Franz Klausius (Clausius) Kröll, officiated as provost 1700-1716
John III Födermayr, who served as provost from 1716 to 1732, had Hohenbrunn Palace built
Johann Georg II Wiesmayr (born April 4, 1695), officiated as provost 1732–1755
Engelbert II Hofmann, officiated as provost 1755–1766
Matthew II Gogl, officiated as provost 1766–1777
Leopold II Trulley, officiated as provost 1777–1793
Michael I. Ziegler, officiated as provost 1793–1823
Michael II Arneth, officiated as provost 1823–1854
Friedrich Mayer, officiated as provost 1854-1858
Jodok II. Stülz, officiated as provost 1859-1872
Ferdinand Moser, officiated as provost 1872-1901
Josef Sailer, officiated as provost 1901-1920, abbot general of the Austrian Augustinian Canons Congregation 1907-1920
Vinzenz Hartl, officiated as provost 1920-1944
Leopold Hager, officiated as provost 1944-1968, resigned in 1968
Johannes Zauner, officiated as provost 1968-1977
Wilhelm Neuwirth, officiated as provost 1977-2005, 1987-2002 abbot general of the Austrian Augustinian Canons' Congregation
Johannes Holzinger (born April 12, 1951), has served as provost since 2005


Architecture of the Abbey Basilica

The church is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, St. Florian and St. Augustine. From 1686, the St. Florian Collegiate Church was rebuilt on the floor plan of the earlier church and using medieval walls. The builder of the church was Carlo Antonio Carlone. It is considered his main work. He was actually supposed to rebuild the entire monastery complex, but he died during the work in 1708. He was able to complete the church and almost the entire west wing of the monastery building by then. After Carlone's death, Jakob Prandtauer took over the construction, which essentially continued in Carlone's spirit. Since he was a well-known artistic personality, he naturally made additions and small changes. So are u. the portal of the west wing, which extends over three floors, can be traced back to him, as well as the south wing with the pavilion-like, protruding marble hall and the summer refectory as an annex on the east side of the monastery. After Prandtauer's death (1726), the convent wing was completed according to his design under the direction of Jakob Steinhuber and his son Michael. – For interior design and furnishings of the church, see below.

Architecture of the monastery buildings (order according to the tour)
Abbey Library
Master builder Gotthard Hayberger from Steyr was entrusted with the construction of a library wing (a first one was previously planned as an annex building elsewhere) in the middle of the east wing. The main hall of the abbey library, built between 1744 and 1751, is a late baroque jewel. The bookshelves, the gallery and the doors were made by local craftsmen and testify to the high quality of their work. Bartolomeo Altomonte created the figures in the ceiling fresco Connecting Virtue with Science (ref. 1747) and Antonio Tassi painted the architecture. The overall design of the painting comes from Daniel Gran. The library comprises around 150,000 volumes, including medieval manuscripts and early prints, many of which were restored by Eleonore Klee after the Second World War. The Florian Psalter was also part of the library until 1931.

art collections
The rich art collections include stocks from all art epochs. Two larger-than-life figures of St. Florian from the 14th century are part of it, as are the Gothic panels of the Sebastian altar by Albrecht Altdorfer. Works by other masters of the Danube School complete the important collection. The other art treasures of St Florian Monastery include a glass painting collection, a collection of baroque paintings and contemporary art, and a graphic collection.

Marble Hall
The Marble Hall, which emerges as a risalit in the middle of the south wing and occupies the entire second and third floor of the building, was designed by Jakob Prandtauer in 1718. The plastic and ornamental decoration of the courtyard facade comes from Leonhard Sattler (1723/24). The ceiling painting by Bartolomeo Altomonte shows the glorification of Austria's and Hungary's victories over the Turks and blessings of peace. Ippolito Sconzani created the architectural painting. The equestrian portraits of Emperor Charles VI and Prince Eugene were also created by Bartolomeo Altomonte. The stucco and stucco marble work are by Franz Josef Ignaz Holzinger (1724–1727).

Imperial and guest rooms
The 16 rooms, which were made available to guests from the imperial family, but also to other (through) travelers (Pope Pius VI stayed here, as did Michael Haydn, Franz Schubert and Franz Grillparzer), still have the original furnishings and furniture from the 18th century. Century. All were made by Upper Austrian artists and craftsmen. The statues above the doors, the candlesticks and the bedposts in the so-called Prinz Eugen Room are of remarkable quality.

Some guest rooms feature large-scale paintings, such as the Faistenberger Room, which is named after the performing artist of the same name. The paintings on the walls of the Prince Eugen room and the hunting room with landscapes and scenes from the Turkish wars and hunting impressions come from the Winterthur painter Felix Mayr and his son.


Church - architecture and furnishings

Church buildings have been documented on the same site since the end of the 11th century. An earlier building was destroyed in the fire of 1235, but was immediately rebuilt. Today's collegiate church, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, is almost a new building that Carlo Antonio Carlone planned and built from 1686 onwards. Noteworthy are the powerful protruding semi-columns, capitals and the entablature, which performs a strong movement in the upper part and dominates the interior. The motif of the columns is continued in the architectural painting on the ceiling. It forms a kind of framework for the figurative scenes in the center (in the nave Life of St. Florian, in the choir Coronation of Mary). Anton Gumpp and Melchior Steidl (1690–1695) were the artists of the frescoes.

The high altar made of red Untersberg marble is by Johann Baptist Colomba (1683-1690), the altarpiece Assumption of Mary by Giuseppe Ghezzi (1687), the tabernacle by Johann Jakob Sattler (1769). In the crossing there are richly carved choir stalls by Adam Franz (1690/91) with depictions of the four church fathers by Jakob Auer in the niches. Above it are music stands with two choir organs in richly carved cases (by Josef Remmer 1691, the organs are from later periods), also made by Adam Franz, with numerous putti playing music.

The side altars are built into four niches on the left and right. They are partly made of Untersberger marble. The first side altar to the right of the vestibule is the Maria Magdalena altar by Giovanni Antonio Daria, painted by Andrea Celesti around 1700. Opposite is the Barbara altar, also by Daria with an altarpiece by Wenzel Halbax (1694). The second altar on the right is the guardian angel altar by Giovanni Battista Bianco, the opposite Anna altar is by the same artist, Michael Willmann painted the two altarpieces. The two next altars on the left and right are also by Bianco, the two statues of St. Ambrosius and St. Monica on the Augustine altar were created by Leonhard Sattler, and the altarpiece by Johann Michael Rottmayr. The two statues of St. Nicholas and St. Donatus on the opposite Floriani altar are also by Leonhard Sattler (1720), the altarpiece is by the Munich painter Leopold Schulz (1837). The last two altars, the cross altar and the sacrament altar, were created by Giovanni Antonio Daria, and Leopold Schulz painted the pictures.

The pulpit made of black marble (the sound cover is made of linden wood) was made by Johann Michael Leithner from Lilienfeld. The plastic decoration comes from Josef Reßler from Vienna (1755). Father Augustine, standing on the soundboard, holds his flaming heart, the symbol of love, towards the dome of the church, which depicts the coronation of Mary. The pews are from Stephan Jegg from St Florian (from 1694).

The magnificent grating that separates the vestibule from the nave was created by Hans Meßner in 1698. Behind the grating, a modern monument (by Herbert Friedl 1997) commemorates the Wilbirg hermit (more on this: see Crypt). - In 1999, Pope John Paul II raised the collegiate church to the status of a minor basilica. This is commemorated by a papal coat of arms by Klaus Wedenig, which is located on the left behind the grating.

The crypt under the nave of the church consists of an anteroom and a main room with groined vaults on Tuscan columns. At this point one suspects the first burial place of St. Florian. There are also tombstones of provosts of the abbey, a remarkable tomb of Queen Catherine of Poland († 1572) and the stone coffin of the hermit Wilbirg, who lived for 41 years in a hermitage next to the old abbey church and died in 1289 with a reputation for holiness. She is revered as the patron saint of the monastery. At the end of the crypt, under the organ, stands the simple coffin of Anton Bruckner.


Bruckner organ

The organ in the basilica got its name because it is closely linked to the work of Anton Bruckner. The Slovenian organ builder Franz Xaver Krismann built the instrument between 1770 and 1774. It has 74 voices on three manual works and pedal. The late baroque case was made by Johann Christian Jegg.

In the course of time the organ was rebuilt several times, e.g. by Johann Georg Fischer, Matthäus Mauracher, the brothers Mauracher and Wilhelm Zika. Initially, the conversions were limited to the bellows system in order to eliminate the problems with the wind supply. In 1873 the instrument was permanently modified by Matthäus Mauracher (Salzburg). In the interests of a more romantic sound, about a third of the registers were replaced and some registers revoiced. The instrument was given a fourth manual, the disposition was expanded to 78 registers; in addition, the central front of the prospectus was rebuilt from 8' to 16' in length. In 1932 the organ was reworked by Dreher & Flamm (Salzburg) and the Mauracher brothers (Linz). The slider chests were exchanged for cone chests, the instrument was equipped with electro-pneumatic action and expanded to a total of 92 registers. In addition, the choir organs were connected to the main organ. In 1951 Wilhelm Zika revised the organ and partially restored it to its original condition. The instrument was fitted with slider chests again, and a number of stops by Krismann were reconstructed. In addition, the disposition was again expanded to 103 voices. The trumpet and shelf work were added, the labial work was set up in a sill box. In 1996, employees of the Upper Austrian Organ Building Institute Kögler (St. Florian) carried out a restoration. The instrument was given electric tracker action and a new console with numerous playing aids (including an electronic 4x640 beater system, a floppy disk storage mechanism and an automatic playback system using magnetic tape). The Bruckner organ has 103 registers (7,386 pipes) and was the largest playable church organ in Austria, apart from the giant organ in St. Stephen's Cathedral, which was built in 1960 and has been out of use for almost 30 years.

Choir organ
In addition to the Bruckner organ, there is also a choir organ in the collegiate church, which is divided between the two sides of the presbytery. The Roman organ case from 1691 contains a work by the Mauracher Brothers from 1931 with 43 registers.

The collegiate church has a historically grown and musically and artistically valuable stock of church bells, which is divided into two groups of bells: the main bell and the choir or side bell.

Main bell
Twelve bells are distributed between the two west towers, with the Great Bell being mounted separately in the north-west tower. It is one of the largest bells in Austria and rings every Thursday evening to commemorate Christ's agony on the Mount of Olives; hence her nickname, Fear Bell. In the course of the renovation in 2003, the two bells of the wind tower were added. The actual and concurrent main bell consists of the seven largest bells. The bells, which date from the 14th century, in particular the twelve bells, the eleven bells, the six bells and the first choir bell, bear witness to the high art of bell casting. They come from a foundry workshop in St. Florian and are dated 1318 and 1319.

Choir or side bells
There is also an eight-part choir bell. It serves as a side bell for daily use (call to the three times a day choral prayer of the monks in the oratory). The disposition follows a pure C major scale. Musically and technically it is designed as a so-called cymbal ringing: the wall thickness (rib) of the bells increases with increasing pitch, the pitch goes up to the three-pitched octave (c3). The bells carry the invocation and the seven prayers of the Lord's Prayer.


The St. Florian Boys' Choir

The Florian Boys' Choir, the well-known boys' choir with a long tradition (its origins go back to the year 1071), are closely connected to the monastery. They live in the boarding school and attend local public schools. Since 1991, the Hauptschule and the Neue Mittelschule St Florian have had their own classes for the choir boys. A choir director, Markus Stumpner at the moment, takes care of the voice training and rehearses the current repertoire with the boys.

Until a few decades ago, the choir boys were almost exclusively responsible for the creation of church music in the monastery. Under the former director Prof Hans Bachl († 1984) the first concert tours abroad took place, and the choir boys successfully took part in competitions. Today, the choir has a variety of tasks: church music performances are still part of it, they often sing in operas, such as B. the Three Boys in The Magic Flute (Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Verona), regularly make concert tours to all parts of the world and record CDs.

The male choir of the St Florian Boys' Choir was founded in 1989. It consists mostly of former boys' choir who are continuing their vocal training and sometimes also appear in other ensembles or groups. Many musicians have also emerged from this choir, the best known is certainly Anton Bruckner.

International Bruckner Days St. Florian
The "Bruckner Days St. Florian" have been held every year since 1997 and open up direct access to his work at the place where Anton Bruckner worked. The twelve-year-old was admitted to the St Florian Boys' Choir in 1837 and maintained close contact with the monastery and the Augustinian canons from then until the end of his life. He returned there every summer to gather strength long after he had lived in Vienna. In 1896 the musician of God died and, according to his wishes, was buried under the organ of the Florian monastery basilica.

In order to ensure the continuation and development of the Brucknertage St Florian, the association of the same name was established with the 2007 season. The members are responsible for the organization and implementation of the Bruckner Days. This continues the musical tradition of the St. Florian monastery.

In 2015, Anton Bruckner's 9th Symphony was performed under the baton of Rémy Ballot.


Fire Brigade Museum

Since 1984, part of the baroque Stiftsmeierei, which was built as a double square courtyard, has housed the Upper Austrian Fire Brigade Museum in St. Florian (also known as the Historical Fire Brigade Armory in St. Florian).