Weissenburg, Abbey of
WEISSENBURG, ABBEY OF
Or in French, Wissembourg Abbey, former benedictine monastery in Alsace, present-day France. It was founded between 620 and 630, was richly endowed, and became an important cultural center in the later eighth century. The so-called "Catechism of Weissenburg" (before 800) is the oldest known work reflecting charlemagne's order (see carolingian reform) to translate the essential texts of the faith into the vernacular; it contains an Old High German translation and explanation of the Our Father, a Latin-German list of principal sins, and translations of the Apostles' Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Gloria. Otfrid of Weissenburg's OHG life of Christ, completed between 863 and 871, was Weissenburg's greatest contribution to Carolingian missionary efforts. Weissenburg reached its cultural peak after Emperor otto i made it a free imperial abbey (973) and gave it privileges that matched those of fulda, reichenau, and prÜm. Abbot Adalbert (d. 981), formerly a monk of St. Maximin in Trier, later the first archbishop of Magdeburg, completed his Continuatio Reginonis at Weissenburg. From 957 to 1097, the abbey followed the customs of gorze, except under Abbot Folmar (1031–43) who imposed the consuetudo of poppo of stavelot. Louis of Hirsau, who became abbot in 1097, introduced the customs of hirsau. In the late Middle Ages, after the abbey had suffered depredation by the town and surrounding nobility, an attempt at reform through union with the Congregation of bursfeld failed (1482). Pope Clement VII transformed the abbey into a house of secular canons (1524), which was incorporated into the diocese of Speyer in 1548, the bishop of Speyer serving as provost of Weissenburg. Before Weissenburg passed to France (1697), most of its manuscripts were taken to Wolfenbüttel. The house was dissolved in 1789 during the French Revolution. The Gothic abbey church (13–14th century, with 11th-century tower) now serves as a parish church.
Bibliography: c. wolff, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger, 10 v. (Freiburg 1930–38) 10:804–805. k. glÖckner, "Eine Weissenburger Urkunde und der erste Karlingische König," Elsass-Lothringisches Jahrbuch 20 (1942) 1–9. f. himly, "Les Plus anciennes charles et les origines de l'abbaye de Wissembourg…," Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes 100 (1939) 281–294. a. burg, Histoire de l'Église d'Alsace (Colmar 1946) 45. w. wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Vorzeit und Karolinger, Hefte 1–4, ed. w. levison and h. lÖwe (Weimar 1952–63) 2:166–170. a. decker, "Die Gründungszeit des Benediktinerklosters Weissenburg im Elsass," Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft 70 (1951) 42–52. m. barth, Handbuch der elsässichen Kitchen im Mittelalter, 3 v. (Archives de l'Église d'Alsace NS 11–13; Strasbourg 1960–63).
[a. a. schacher]