Wettingen-Mehrerau, Abbey of

views updated


Cistercian abbey nullius (Maris stella ) in the Diocese of Basel, Aargau canton, Switzerland. It was founded in 1227 by Count Henry of Rapperswil with monks from Salem, a daughter-house (1134) of Gross Lützel, filiation of morimond. Because it held many papal and imperial privileges as well as lands in Uri, Basel, and Zurich, it became a miniature state in the Limmat Valley. Although the abbey fell under the hapsburgs in the 14th century, it continued to govern its own lands and, as a consistorial abbey of confederated lands in the 15th century, lasted as a relic of bygone spiritual jurisdiction until 1798. Pontificalia were obtained in 1439 for Abbot Rudolph and his successors, and the abbots held visitation rights over ten convents. Threatened with collapse during the Reformation when most of the monks left in 1529, the abbey recovered under Catholic protection after the battle of Kappel (1531). It flourished anew under Abbot Peter II Schmid (15941633), one of the founders of the South German Congregation. The next abbot, Christopher II Bachmann, died after a saintly life. Nicholas, a descendant of St. nicholas of flÜe, was known for theological and musical learning. Refugee monks from the French Revolution came under the excellent discipline and administration of Abbot Sebastian Steinegger, who in 1790 assumed the direction of Swiss and Alsatian abbeys; and the Swiss congregation developed under Wettingen in 1806. The abbey was suppressed in 1841; the monks moved to mehrerau in 1854, Wettingen becoming a teachers college. The basilica (three naves, flat roof, pillars) has a partly Gothic transept with famous stained glass, Renaissance choir stalls, baroque altars, and many tombs of abbots and nobles (especially Hapsburgs); King Albert I was buried in Wettingen (130809) until he was moved to Speyer.

Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:180708, 344950. f. wernli, Beitäge zur Geschichte des Klosters Wettingen (Kaltbrunn 1948). a. bugmann, Zürich und die Abtei Wettingen zur Zeit der Reformation und der Gegenreformation (Zurich 1949). k. spahr, "Der sogenannte Wettinger Stifterkelch," Mehrerauer Grüsse NS 9 (1958) 116. a. kottmann, Die Cistercienser-Abtei Wettingen 17681803 (Aargau 1959), with copious bibliog. Wettingen gestern und heute, ed. h. meng (Wettingen 1959). a. dietrich, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger, 10 v. (Freiburg 193038) 10:850851. "Wettingen," Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) v.10.

[c. spahr]