Sankt Peter, Abbey of

views updated


Benedictine house, founded by St. rupert of salz-burg, c. 700; it is the oldest monastery north of the Alps, and the basis for the town and Diocese of Salzburg. Under the Abbot-bishop John, St. boniface it introduced the benedictine rule, whereas, previously, a rule of Columbanian provenance had been in use. Preaching and the assarting of woodland were the chief occupations of the monastery. Under charlemagne, Salzburg became an archdiocese (798) and Abbot-bishop Arno its first archbishop. In 987 Archbishop Frederick separated the abbey from the archiepiscopal administration and gave Sankt Peter its own abbot. Nevertheless, later archbishops often considered Sankt Peter as a proprietary monastery.

The first church built by St. Rupert, together with the monastery, was destroyed by fire in 847. Following a second fire in 1127, the present collegiate church was built between 1130 and 1143, and despite baroque renovations, its old Romanesque nave is still recognizable. The rococo style of the interior ornamentation is in peculiar contrast to the heavy Romanesque style of the achitecture. The vestibule and the main entrance, both masterpieces of Romanesque, were done in 1244 and 1245. The monastic buildings as well as the present form of the famous cemetery of Sankt Peter, the oldest burial grounds of Salzburg, date from the 17th century.

According to tradition, the catacombs that interlace the "Mönchsberg" (monks' mountain) are of early Christian origin. In the 8th and 9th centuries, Sankt Peter housed a famous scriptorium; its oldest extant work is the Liber vitae (the Verbrüderungsbuch, written under the direction of the Abbot-bishop virgilius of salz-burg). Between the 11th and 13th centuries, outstanding works of book illumination were produced in the abbey. Sankt Peter played an important role in the founding of the Benedictine University in Salzburg (1622). Before its suspension in 1810, many of its monks, such as the theologian Paul Metzger and the historian Joseph Metzger, were professors. In 1925 Sankt Peter became an archabbey, and Archabbot Petrus Klotz built the college for Benedictine scholastics. The monastery was suppressed in 1941, but was reestablished in 1945.

Bibliography: j. metzger, Historia Salisburgensis (Salzburg 1692). b. seeauer, Novissimum chronicon antiqui monasterii ad S. Petrum Salisburgi (Augsburg 1772). p. berhandtsky, Anszug aus der neuesten Chronik des alten Benediktinerklosters zu St. Peter in Salzburg, 2 v. (Salzburg 1783). h. widmann, Geschichte Salzburgs, 3 v. (Gotha 190714). h. tietze, ed. Die Denkmale des Benediktinerstiftes St. Peter in Salzburg (Österreichische Kunsttopographie 12; Vienna 1913). f. martin, Salzburg, ed. i. wegleiter (Dehio-Handbuch. Die Kunstdenkmäler Österreichs; 4th ed. Vienna 1954). k. forstner, "Die Karolingischen Handschriften in den Salzburger Bibliotheken," Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Salzburger Landeskunde, suppl. 3 (Salzburg 1962). f. hermann, St. Peter, Salzburg (Christliche Kunststätten Österreichs 1; Salzburg 1962).

[m. m. zykan]