History » 1143 - 1901 » Old Schoenstatt » Founding of the Convent

3. The Convent's Foundation

The Cloister for Augustinian Monks at Lonnig. - Regular monks. - Life in the cloisters in the Middle Ages - Unfortunate situation of the women's cloister at Lonnig - Gift of the Dukes of Isenburg to Vallendar - Foundation of the Schoenstatt convent - Document

At the beginning of the 12th century Werner, a vassal of the Archbishop of Trier, built a chapel on his property at Lunnech (Lonnig), in the parish of Cobern on the Mosel. He commissioned a pious priest called Lubold with its care. Through his sermons this priest collected a large number of disciples in a very short time. After the death of their master in 1136, with the agreement of Archbishop Albero, they placed themselves under the direction of Augustinian Abbot Richard of Sprencheresbach (Springiersbach). On 17 April 1137 Pope Innocent II agreed to the foundation of a new Abbey, and Archbishop Albero consecrated the first Abbot, Folmar. At the General Synod of Trier on 22 October 1142 the Archbishop certified the foundation of the new Abbey.

At that time the monks following the Rule of St Augustine formed a widespread community of cloisters in the province of Trier. They must not be confused with the Augustinian Hermits, who have only become known as such since 1265. The regular monks, in contrast to the 'canonicis saecularibus' (secular clergy), were the result of the efforts of individual bishops, who wanted bring about a radical reform of the spiritual life through founding associations with community life that embraced the three Evangelical Councils according to the example and Rule of St Augustine.

A large number of communities for men and women started. The spiritual life flourished. “After the Germanic migration (Voelkerwanderung) the Frankish kings competed in founding and endowing episcopal churches, and many sons and daughters, or offspring of their houses, entered the monasteries and convents, or accepted bishoprics. After the death of the Frankish kings, rich nobles founded, endowed and supported many cloisters. It was mainly their sons and daughters who gave up life in the world and secured their salvation by entering a cloister. The Kings, Emperors and Popes confirmed the donations and endowments and granted them protection.” (Marx)

Besides the monastery in Lunnech, a convent for 'Canonissarum regularium S. Augustini' (Regular Canonnesses of St Augustine), under the authority of the Abbot, already existed. This was very common in those days and is still found today in the strict Orders. Many double cloisters existed until the 112th and 13th century, when they were suppressed by bishops and leaders of the Orders, and finally closed.

The community in Lonnig had to battle against many difficulties from the first. Whether it was because of the poverty that made it impossible to support two large cloisters in one place; whether it was because some temporal nobles tried to suppress them - among whom the von Etterding and von Covern families are specially mentioned; or perhaps because of the unfavourable position and the attempts to avoid double cloisters, Abbot Folmar took the decision a few years after the foundations to transfer the women's cloister to a more favourable place.

His choice fell on the attractive meadow in the Leerbach valley near Vallendar. In fact it would have been difficult to find a more suitable spot in the surrounding countryside. The brothers Gerlach IV, Reimbold IV, and Siegfried, Dukes of Isenburg, therefore donated their property at Vallendra for this purpose. Building work started immediately and the first convent buildings were soon completed, to be followed soon afterwards by extensive cloister and agricultural buildings, and finally by a large and beautiful church. The transfer of the nuns from Lunnech to Vallendar took place towards the end of 1143.

The document dealing with this transfer was dated on 24 October of that year. Archbishop Albero mentioned the great suffering they had endured (pro variis et intolerabilibus necessitatibus, quas ibi (in Lunnecho) dampnost sustinebant) as the reason for their transfer, while praising the nuns for their very commendable way of life. He personally named the place and the convent “Schoenstatt”, by calling it "eyne Schoene Stat" (Bellus locus) - a beautiful place.

The cloister kept the property it had possessed in Lonnig and continued to remain subject to the Abbot there, who appointed a Prior to administer the business of the cloister. The document of foundation defined the rights of the cloister for the future. “In particular we decree,” stated the Archbishop, “that we grant them in perpetuity a tenth of all profits they gain through working their possessions, and from all the animals they breed on their farms. The same applies to the property in Vallendar given to them by Reimhod and his brother Siegfried von Isenburg; as well as the farm at Abenrode, which they received from Adalrich there. The same also applied to all new acquisitions. In addition I decree that whoever wants to be buried near them for the sake of their prayers may do so, on condition that he is not under a ban. Besides this we lay down that no one, whether in the spiritual or temporal state, may exercise any authority over the cloister, with the exception of Abbot Folmar and his successors. They came from there (Lunnech), so they shall remain subject to them. Should any disagreement arise, which the Abbot and his followers are unable to end, the Bishop has to decide. We confirm all this under pain of the ban for all who act contrary to our decree.” [...]

 

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