Kempten, Abbey of
KEMPTEN, ABBEY OF
Former royal benedictine monastery in the present-day town of Kempten (the old Roman Campodunum ), Bavaria, Germany. It was founded by sankt gallen c. 725 as a small cell, and by 752 it was a nondependent, royal, proprietary, Benedictine monastery with the right of free election of abbot. It was favored by charlemagne and his consort Hildegard, who was considered a foundress. Its first monastic buildings probably imitated the style of Sankt Gallen. Kempten organized the evangelization of the Algäu. The Hungarians destroyed the old abbey in 926, and the monks moved to a hill west of the town (at the site of the east wing of the residence now there). Reformed under Bp. ulric of augsburg, it had ties with the gorze-trier-einsiedeln circle, and, in the 12th century, with the hirsau-fruttuaria-sankt-blasien group. In 1213 the abbatial territory was given the status of a county; the abbot was invested with pontificalia in 1238. He was made a prince of the empire in 1360, and thenceforth Kempten accepted only noblemen as monks. In 1419 it gained exemption. The 15th and 16th centuries saw the beginnings of reform, but the inroads of the Swabian nobility, peasant uprisings in 1491 and 1525 with looting of church and monastery, strife with the town, and the reformation made reform ineffective. The famous printing press whose tradition is maintained by the Kösel publishing house was established at Kempten in 1593. Prince-Abbot Johann Euchar von Wolfurt (1616–31) saw the abbey looted by Swedes and townsmen in the Thirty Years' War. Under Roman Giel of Gielsberg, elected abbot in 1639 at the age of 27, Kempten joined the Lorraine Benedictine congregation (1649) and the Swiss congregation (1664), and with Christophorus of Schönau from Einsiedeln as subprior (at the request of the bishop of Constance and the nobility), the cloisters and church were rebuilt after 1651. The original church dated from the 10th to the 11th centuries; its interior and exterior baroque reconstruction and expansion were not completed until c. 1742; the old parish church of St. Lawrence still shows the influence of Sankt Gallen. When Kempten was dissolved in 1803, it ceded its holdings (18 square miles occupied by 42,000 people) to the state of Bavaria.
Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobiblioographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 1:1510–11. r. henggeler, Profess-buch der fürstlichen Benediktinerabtei unserer lieben Frau zu Einsiedeln (Monasticon-Benedictinum Helvetiae 3; Einsiedeln 1934). k. hallinger, Gorze-Kluny, 2 v. (Studia anselmiana 22–25; Rome 1950–51). j. rottenkolber, Geschichte des hochfürstlichen Stiftes Kempten (Munich 1933); Geschichte des Allgäus (Munich 1951). a. schÄdler, ed., 1200 Jahre Stift Kempten (Kempten 1952). h. tÜchle, Kirchengeschichte Schwabens, 2 v. (Stuttgart 1950–54). f. zoepfl, Das Bistum Augsburg und seine Bischöfe im Mittelalter (Munich 1955). Festschrift zur 900-Jahr-Feier des Klosters, 1056–1956, ed. g. spahr (Weingarten 1956). n. lieb, Rokoko in der Residenz von Kempten (Kempten 1958).