Corvey, Abbey of
CORVEY, ABBEY OF
Former imperial benedictine monastery, on the Weser River, about 25 miles east of Paderborn, Westphalia, Germany, Diocese of Paderborn (Latin, Corbeia nova ). It grew out of the original settlement of 815 at Hethi (Solling), which was moved to Corvey in 822 by the brothers adalard and wala. The first monks, including ansgar, came from corbie; royal confirmation was received at the synod of Ingelheim (July 27, 823). Emperor Louis the Pious gave Corvey the relics of St. Stephen (hence, St. Stephen's church), and in 836 Abbot hilduin of saint-denis gave it the relics of St. vitus, who became the second patron of the church. It was from there that St. Vitus's cult spread over Saxony and north Germany. Corvey enjoyed a flourishing economic and intellectual life and numbered up to 300 monks. Outstanding men of Corvey included bruno of Cologne, the brother of Emperor Otto I, the archbishop of Cologne, and chancellor of the empire; the future Pope gregory v (996–999); and five monks who became archbishops of Bremen-Hamburg. Other monks became bishops of Halberstadt and Hildesheim, while still others were teachers in Bohemia, France, and Italy. In the days of Otto I, widukind of corvey wrote a history of the Saxons. The Annales Corbeienses, the Translatio s. Viti, and certain letters of Abbot wibald of stavelot are of Corvey provenance. Corvey's famous MS of Tacitus' Annals, rediscovered in 1517, is now in Rome. Corvey declined from the 14th century on (its bells were sold to Hildesheim), despite its membership in the Bursfeld Congregation (1505). It was pillaged five times in one year during the Thirty Years' War. The abbey dissolved by converting itself into a prince-bishopric (1794), since only noblemen could be received as monks and there were no new novices forthcoming. In 1803 the monastic domain was secularized and since then has known frequent changes of ownership. In 1825 the Diocese of Corvey was united with Paderborn.
Corvey's extant abbey church is a basilica whose outer crypt was finished in 844. The triple-storied, three-turreted west façade of the church was built from 873 to 885; the rest of the single-naved building is in baroque post-Gothic style and dates from 1667 to 1675. The monastery buildings date from 1699 to 1721. Corvey's picture gallery has 65 portraits of its abbots.
Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 1:884–886. k. hallinger, Gorze-Kluny, 2 v. (Studia anselmiana 22–25; 1950–51) 1020. p. schmitz, Histoire de l'ordre de Saint-Benoît, 7 v. (Maredsous, Bel. 1942–56). e. gall, "Westwerkfragen," Kunstchronik 7 (1954) 274–276. a. franzen, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 13:922–925. w. rave, Corvey (Münster 1958). e. lehmann, "Zum Buche von Wilhelm Rave über Corvey," Westfalen 38 (1960) 12–35.