Ettal Abbey

Ettal Abbey


Location: Ettal, Bavaria      Map

Found: on 28 April 1330 by Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian

Official site


Ettal Abbey is a Benedictine abbey (Abbey of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary) in the village of Ettal in Upper Bavaria and belongs to the Bavarian Benedictine Congregation.

The abbey is about ten kilometers north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and southeast of Oberammergau. The Benedictine monastery, founded in 1330, is now a popular tourist attraction. The monastery includes farms, several inns, a hotel and a high school with an attached boarding school. In addition, an art publisher, a distillery and a brewery.


The monastery was founded by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian on April 28, 1330, the day of St. Vitalis, as part of a pledge. Associated with the founding vow were the expansion of the traffic route to the south and the development of the area.

As a conceivable motive for Ludwig's founding, it is assumed that the founding of the monastery should not only serve the salvation of the emperor's soul but also safeguard the trade route from Augsburg to Verona (Via Imperii).

Ludwig was in dispute with the Avignon Pope John XXII, ostensibly about questions of faith, actually about political priority. After Louis had himself crowned emperor in Rome by Sciarra Colonna (Roman nobleman and leader of the party of Italy loyal to the emperor), the Pope declared this coronation null and void and Louis announced the removal of the Pope. For lack of money, Ludwig had to withdraw from Rome, where he supported the election of Pope Nicholas V. On his journey home from Pisa to Germany, he also passed the site of today's monastery and founded a monastery of a new and unbelievable kind there (Latin monasterium nove consuetudinis et acentus inaudite), which, in addition to a monastic and a women's convent, also had a knight's convent at the age of twelve Hosted knights.

The most important devotional object in Ettal has always been a picture of Mary brought back from Pisa, the so-called Ettal Madonna. The Madonna soon became a destination for pilgrimages, especially since the new baroque monastery was built. The monastery church is consecrated to St. Mary: St. Mary's Assumption.

History of the monastery
Between 1330 and 1370 the monastery church was built on a twelve-sided floor plan in the Gothic style and consecrated on May 5, 1370 by Freising Prince-Bishop Paul. In the first four centuries of its existence, the monastery was not very important in comparison to the great old Bavarian abbeys. During the turmoil of the Reformation, troops of Elector Moritz von Sachsen inflicted great damage on him in May 1552.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the pilgrimage to Ettal blossomed. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), Elector Max II Emanuel had the miraculous image, a statue of the Virgin Mary, brought to the court chapel on April 12, 1704 and venerated there for ten days. Then it was in various Munich churches, on June 30th it was in the Freising Cathedral. In spring 1705 it came back to Ettal.

The actual heyday of the monastery only began under Abbot Placidus Seitz from 1709. In 1710 he founded the Knight's Academy and thus brought the school tradition of Ettal to life. During the imperial administration of Spa Bavaria, war sciences were taught in Ettal, in particular ballistics and military and civil engineering, not only theoretically but also practically through building jumps and target practice with a cannon removed from the Munich arsenal. [2] In a fire in 1744, the church and monastery were largely destroyed and subsequently rebuilt in the Rococo style by Joseph Schmuzer from the Wessobrunn school according to plans by Enrico Zuccalli. The furnishings include side altars and pulpit by Johann Baptist Straub. The ceiling paintings were created by Johann Jakob Zeiller, the stucco work by Schmuzer and his son-in-law Johann Georg Üblhör.

Its convenient location and the attraction to pilgrims made Ettal one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in the Alpine region.

In 1790 the abbey was once again banned from blood, that is, all jurisdiction lay with the abbot and his convent. Not only the lower and documentary jurisdiction, but also the high jurisdiction with the possible condemnation to the death penalty was assigned to the Ettal monastery. With the secularization, the Benedictine abbey was abolished on March 21, 1803, against the determined resistance of Abbot Alphons Hafner. The district of the monastery court was assigned to a provisional district court in Murnau, which, however, was distributed to the neighboring district courts of Weilheim and Schongau at the end of 1803; In 1827 most of the former monastery court was merged with the Werdenfels district court.

The buildings and possessions were transferred to the Electorate of Palatinate-Bavaria. In 1809 Josef von Elbing bought the building at auction. In 1856 it was acquired by Count Albert von Pappenheim from Elbing's grandson August Baur Edlem von Breitenfeld.


In 1898, Baron Theodor von Cramer-Klett acquired the building and donated it to Scheyern Abbey. On August 6, 1900 Benedictine monks moved in again. At first the monastery was a priory of the Scheyern monastery and since 1907 Ettal has been an independent abbey again. In the tradition of the knight academy founded in 1710, the humanistic and modern-language grammar school and the boarding school have since developed into the most important tasks of the Benedictines in Ettal. The buildings, some of which were demolished during the secularization period, were rebuilt or renewed with financial support from Baron Cramer-Klett.

Pope Benedict XV elevated the church to the rank of minor basilica on February 24, 1920 with the apostolic letter Inter potiora.

The monastery also operates a brewery, a distillery (for the production of the monastery liquor and other spirits such as rakı), a bookstore, an art publisher, a hotel, several inns and a number of smaller businesses. In 1994 Ettal repopulated the former Teutonic Monastery of Wechselburg in Saxony. In addition to pastoral care, the monks also run a larger guest house there. Today the Ettal and Wechselburg convents have 55 members.

In 2018, the Ettal Abbey hosted the Bavarian State Exhibition, which was dedicated to the topic of forests, mountains and the royal dream - the myth of Bavaria. The event, organized by the House of Bavarian History, took place from May 3 to November 4, 2018. The state exhibition was part of the anniversary program Myth Bavaria - 100 Years of the Free State.

In August 2019 the Maltacamp, the largest international youth camp for people with disabilities, took place on the monastery grounds with over 500 participants from 24 countries.

During the corona crisis, disinfectants for hospitals were produced in the monastery distillery.

Heinrich I. Rieter, 1331–1344
Eberhard from Niederaltaich, 1344-1349
Jodok von Agenwang, 1349–1352 / 1353 (?)
Konrad I. Kummersprugger from Tegernsee, 1360–1390 (1356–1360 administrator)
Heinrich II. Zucker, 1390-1393
Berner / Werner, 1393 – around 1399 († 1407)
Konrad II. Duringfeld, 1399-1413
Henry III. Sandauer, 1413-1414
Ulrich Hohenkircher, 1414-1419
Conrad III. Schifflein / Schifflin, 1419–1439
Johannes I. Kufsteiner, 1440–1452 († 1455)
Simon Hueber, 1452-1476
Stephan Precht, 1476-1492
Benedikt Zwink, 1492–1495 († 1495)
John II. Spangler, 1495–1511
Maurus I. Wagner, 1511-1522
Maurus II. Nuzinger, 1522–1549
Placidus I. Gall, 1549-1566
Nikolaus Streitl, 1566–1590
Leonhard Hilpolt, 1590-1615
Othmar I. Goppelsrieder, 1615–1637 (1613 coadjutor)
Ignatius Rueff, 1637–1658
Virgil Hegler, 1658-1668
Benedict II. Eckart, 1668–1675
Roman Schretter, 1675–1697
Romuald Haimblinger, 1697–1708
Placidus II. Seitz, 1709-1736
Bernhard I. Oberhauser, 1736–1739
Benedict III Pacher, 1739–1759, abbot at the time of the monastery fire in 1744 († 1796)
Bernhard II. (Ludwig) von Eschenbach, 1761–1779 (natural son of Elector Maximilian III. Josef Karl)
Othmar II. Seywold, 1779–1787
(Election April 28, 1779)
Alphons Hafner, 1787–1802 (offered strong resistance to the abolition of the monastery and died a broken man on May 7, 1807 in the Abbey of St. Justina in Padua)
Willibald Wolfsteiner, 1907–1933 (Prior 1900–1907)
Angelus Kupfer, 1933–1951
Johannes Maria Hoeck, 1951–1961
Karl Groß, 1961–1973
Edelbert Hörhammer, 1973-2005
Barnabas Bögle, 2005–2010
Emmeram Walter, February - July 2010, Vacancy Administrator
Barnabas Bögle, (again since July 11, 2010)

The core of the complex is the monastery church of the Assumption of Mary. The convent buildings connect to the monastery church in the southeast. They form a three- to four-storey four-wing complex in baroque shapes and were originally built by Enrico Zuccalli in 1714. To the west of the church is the western cloister courtyard, surrounded by a two- to three-storey four-wing complex in baroque forms and originally built in 1753.

The 18th century monastery buildings were partially demolished in the 19th century. In 1904 the convent buildings were rebuilt and converted by Max Ostenrieder, and the western cloister courtyard followed in 1912. It was not until 1972 to 1976 that the last part of the monastery buildings demolished after secularization was rebuilt.

The convent buildings house the monastery. A boarding school is housed in the north and west wings of the western cloister courtyard, and a grammar school in the south wing.

Educational institutions


The Ettal Knight Academy existed from 1711 to 1744.

The Ettal International Summer Academy, founded in 1977 to train young musicians, has been held in Ettal Abbey since 2017.

The Benedictine high school Ettal, a humanistic high school with a modern language branch, has existed in the monastery since 1905. The adjoining boarding school has also been accepting girls since the 2016/17 school year; the originally purely boys' grammar school has been attended by external boys and girls for a long time (in addition to internal students).

In connection with cases of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions, which were made public in 2010, it became known that sexual abuse and use of violence against students had taken place unhindered in the Benedictine high school in Ettal for decades. After Abbot Barnabas Bögle, the headmaster P. Maurus Kraß also resigned. After their rehabilitation in the summer of 2010, both were reinstated in their offices by the Congregation for Religious. A 2013 study revealed the extent of the attacks. The criminal investigation of several cases in the years 2001-2005 lasted until March 2015 and temporarily ended with the sentencing of the then boarding school prefect to a suspended sentence of 22 months, suspended for four years. On August 4, 2016, another case was opened against the father for the sexual abuse of children in another case at the Munich II Regional Court. The defense announced a full confession. On August 10, 2016, the priest was sentenced in the first instance to seven years' imprisonment; the judgment from 2015 was included.

Because of the alleged relationship between the content of the Minne allegory, The Monastery of Minne, and the rules of the order of the Ettal Monastery and the analogy between the twelve gates of the monastery building described there and the twelve-sided central building of the Ettal monastery church, this Minne allegory is often associated with the Ettal monastery been.