Mehrerau, Abbey of
MEHRERAU, ABBEY OF
Former Benedictine abbey on Lake Constance in Bregenz, west Austria; present seat of the Cistercian abbey nullius of wettingen-mehrerau. The Benedictine Mehrerau had nothing to do with the foundation of St. columban in Bregenz c. 610. Mehrerau was settled by monks from petershausen (1097), who had settled (1083) in Adelsbuch (Bregenzerwald). The Romanesque church recently excavated served as a burial place for the counts of Bregenz and Montfort and for many Benedictine abbots. Mehrerau colonized the region with clearances in the Bregenzerwald and model farms. In 1806 the abbey was suppressed, and the Vorarlberg baroque church and tower were torn down. The baroque convent buildings still stand. In 1854 Cistercians expelled from Wettingen (1841) restored Mehrerau. By canon and civil law Mehrerau is now a priory dependent on Wettingen, and at the same time the seat of the Abbey of Wettingen. The abbot of Wettingen, the only abbot nullius in Austria, is head of the Mehrerau Cistercian congregation. This includes seven monasteries of men, two of which are priories, and nine monasteries of women, of which two are priories.
The library has 90,000 volumes, 100 MSS and early printings, a collection of engravings, and 18,000 seals. Several altar paintings are late Gothic and Renaissance. Mehrerau has a humanities gymnasium and boarding school recognized by the state, an agricultural technical school, and a philosophical-theological school. Since 1889 the abbey has published the Cistercian chronicle. It directs the pilgrimage in Birnau and a sanatorium in Mehrerau. Cistercians from Mehrerau were the first to return to Germany (Marienstatt), to modern Yugoslavia (Stična), and to Switzerland (hauterive) after the secularizations of the 19th century.
Bibliography: a. ulmer, Die Klöster und Ordensniederlassungen in Vorarlberg einst und jetzt (Dornbirn 1926) 28–36, 116–131. b. bilgeri, Zinsrodel des Klosters Mehrerau, 1290–1505 (Kempten 1940); "100 Jahre Zisterzienser in M.," Mehrerauer Grüsse, NS v. 1 (1954) 1–217. k. spahr, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 7:240; Mehrerau (Bregenz 1964).