History » 1143 - 1901 » Old Schoenstatt » The Reform

6. The Reform

The Franciscan Convent in Muehlental - Acceptance of the Augustinian Rule - Transfer of this Sisters to Schoenstatt - Condition of the Convent at this time.

At that time there was another convent of Third Order Franciscans in Muellenheim (Molnheym, Molendal, Muehlental), the present Ehrenbreitstein, at the foot of the Castles of Helfenstein and Ehrenbreitstein. The Sisters had built the convent themselves, and were highly respected because of their piety and virtue. Archbishop Jakob I of Girk (1439-1456) had sent five of these nuns to the shrine in Besselich in 1440, and they founded the convent there. Their first superior was the saintly Mother Elizabeth von Weiss.

In 1460, when they were under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Johannes II of Baden (1456-1503), the Sisters at Muehlenheim inexplicably changed their religious dress and their Rule. They accepted the Augustinian Rule and became Canonesses. Mother bela Johel of Linz (1457-1479) was their superior at the time. From this time on the superior was no longer called “Mother”, but “Prioress”.

The Archbishop was very concerned that the Schoenstatt Convent should not collapse completely. The nuns at Muehlenheim were probably also pleased to be transferred there, because the two castles overlooked their convent, and because of their poverty. On 1 April 1487 Elector Johann moved the whole Convent of Muehlenheim to Vallendar, and gave the Sisters the whole property with all its rights and privileges, on condition that they support those nuns still remaining in Valledar for the rest of their lives. 27 nuns under their superior, Elizabeth Goitzmoitz, transferred to Vallendar on the fast of St Barnabas and formed the new community.

This superior drew up a Status generalis, a memorandum, on the deplorable state of the convent. This was presented to the Archbishop and his consultors in order to offset the unfavourable voices raised against the new Sisters and the beginning, and which were attempting to alienate the Bishop from them.

The memorandum pointed out that Schoenstatt was an old convent where discipline had collapsed, church services neglected, the buildings in disrepair and rents had declined. Lands had been mortgaged, debts had mounted. Everything was in decay and hardly to be preserved.

The convent had properties in Chur, near Niederfell, Covern, Ley, Weiss (Moselweis), Leutersdorf, Urbar, Lonnig, Otzenhausen, Vallendar, Simmern, Hausen and Polch, etc. However the majority of them were mortgaged and in a poor condition.

In Vallendar itself the Convent a free farm, which was the largest property after that of the Lords of Vallendar. The meadows yielded 25 wagons of hay. In addition it had 3 morgen of vineyards and a flock of 500 sheep. The forest, called "Das Eigen", was far away near Kadenback and Eitelborn.

It is interesting to not the burdens borne by the farm and house, because they shed light on the customs of that time, and because they often led to conflict. For example, the farm in Vallendar had to provide a meal for the municipality of Vallendar. The Sisters had carried out this duty by paying 12 Gulden instead. On this occasion the foresters each received 18 Den. The foresters and farm servants of the Lord of Isenburg received 5 Schilling for a dog, and the four farm servants were given a meal at night of beef with mustard, pork with yellow pepper, rye bread and new wine. The farm had to maintain a kennel for the noblemen of Isenburg. If the bishop travelled, the convent had to lend him a horse, etc.

There were only twenty of the older nuns left. The number of Sisters at that time had again risen to over 70. There is no doubt that they tried their best to restore the old order and help the convent to flourish again. The building were thoroughly renovated, loans were paid off, and the fields and forests cared for as best they could.

For a time it also seemed that a new star had risen over Schoenstatt. Vibrant life and work developed for fifty years, and the spirit of prayer and piety returned again to the quiet valley. However, it didn't last long. It was the quiet before the storm. It was impossible in the circumstances of those times for life to flourish. As the tempest outside increased, one stone after another was carried away and a decline was unavoidable.


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