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Niederaltaich, Abbey of


In the Bavarian Benedictine Congregation, Diocese of Passau; on the left bank of the Danube near the mouth of the Isar. Since the 12th century it has been called Altaha inferior to distinguish it from the nearby Abbey of Oberaltaich (Altaha superior ). The Agilulfinger dukes founded it before 750 and settled it with monks from reichenau, who brought with them the Burgundian cult of St. maurice, patron of the church. Niederaltaich colonized and evangelized the Bavarian forest, Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary, settling kremsmÜnster (777). Ruined by the Hungarian wars, it was reduced to a group of canons by 1000. Bishops pilgrim of passau and wolfgang of regensburg included it in the gorze-trier regensburg reform. Under St. godard (d. 1038), later bishop of Hildesheim, Niederaltaich headed a reform, settling or reviving tegernsee, hersfeld, Ossiach, Bakonybel, Ostrow (St. Iwan), Brevnov, and Olomouc (Olmütz). St. Günther was a missionary and colonizer, and Bl. Richer became abbot of Monte Cassino; Judith was one of several women recluses at Niederaltaich. The abbey lost its free imperial status (8571156) in the investiture controversy and was put under the bishop of Bamberg. Abbot Herman (124273), compiler of the Annales Altahenses, restored the abbey to its former prestige. Eight of Niederaltaich's monks were requested as abbots at a time when the old religious orders were in decline. Rebuilt after the ruin of the Thirty Years' War, the abbey was destroyed with its library in fires (1659, 1671). Abbot Joscio Hamberger (170039) revived it and had the baroque church built. The abbey was secularized (1803) but resettled from metten (1918) and united to the Priory of Innsbruck-Volders (1927) before it became an abbey again (1930). Its Ecumenical Institute has a leading role in the ecumenical movement.

Bibliography: g. lang, Die Heiligen und Seligen von Niederaltaich (Metten 1941). r. bauerreiss, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:950951.

[e. m. heufelder]

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