Monastaries of Carinthia - Part II
Part II: Stift Maria Saal - Stift Viktring
Stift Maria Saal
Maria Saal is another collegiate convent that was dissolved. It is derived from a missionary centre that was founded by bishop Modestus, who is buried in the convent′s church, around 750. Sent by St. Virgil, bishop of Salzburg, he created the spearhead of mission work of the Slovenian kingdom of Carantania.
It remained important until the foundation of Gurk in 1072. In 1122, it became an Augustian abbey and gradually grew and developed. Today, visitors can see the late Gothic church with Carinthia′s biggest bell from 1687 and a vaulted ceiling with elaborate frescos from the 15th century and a Gothic altar; several Roman excavations; and the remains of a Roman temple, which was later used as a baptism chapel and a replica of the Holy Grave in Jerusalem.
Stift Viktring of Carinthia
Originally founded in 1142, Viktring (http://www.stiftviktring.at/) was endowed by Count Bernhard of Spanheim-Marburg for Cistercian monks. By the 13th and 14th century, the Cistercians had proved their management skills: Viktring was among the richest monasteries of Carinthia. It was recognised for its archives and tradition in history. Similar to many other monasteries of Austria, the accumulation of wealth was supplemented by a degradation of moral standards. By the late 15th century, Viktring also faced economic troubles. In 1494, the monastery went to the St. George′s knight order from Millstatt, but only for a short time
Later, Viktring became a property of the bishop of Gurk (and later Salzburg) Matthäus Lang. By the late 16th century, the monastery had recovered. The Medieval fortifications were destructed and several Baroque buildings erected. Under the rule of Emperor Joseph II, the monastery was dissolved in 1784. For almost a century, the buildings were used as a factory; in 1843 half of the main nave of the church was destroyed.
The only Romanesque Cistercian church in a German-speaking country, by the way. Today, there are 60 stained glass windows from 1390 preserved, an altar from 1622 and some remains of the abbey. The degree of preservation is remarkable, considering that this parish church was used as a factory for decades.
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