Monastaries of Styria - Part II
Part II: Seckau - Göß
Stift Seckau (http://www.abtei-seckau.at/) is an often neglected gem of Romanesque architecture. The former Augustinian and now Benedictine abbey was founded in 1140 and was supplemented with a nunnery in 1150 (dissolved in 1488). In 1218, the monastery became the centre of the local bishop, who was dependent on the Archbishop of Salzburg (similar to the Bishop of Gurk). In 1267, the monastery burnt down. Seckau bloomed in the centuries following the rather troublesome reformation and constantly gained wealth and power.
Under the rule of Emperor Joseph II, the monastery - one of the richest in Styria - was dissolved in 1782. Almost precisely 100 years later, in 1883, Benedictine monks from Beuron re-populated the monastery and have maintained it ever since. Today, Seckau is well-known for its impressive Romanesque-Gothic church Mariae Himmelfahrt (including modern frescos from the 1960ies), a goldsmith′s workshop and a school. The library of Seckau contains some 100,000 volumes. Other sights are a medieval crucifix group on the main altar of the church and the tomb of Archduke Karl, who died in 1590.
Just South of the miner′s town of Leoben in Styria, the few visitors tracing former Gothic glory can find the former Benedictine nunnery of Göß (http://aeiou.iicm.tugraz.at/aeiou.encyclop.g/g584832.htm). It was founded around 1000, confirmed by Emperor Heinrich II in 1002, which made it the oldest nunnery in Styria. The Benedictine rule can be traced back to 1188, it was probably acknowledged by individual nuns of Göß on demand of the Archbishop of Salzburg.
However, the full validity of the rules were not established for centuries and the transformation of Göß into a Benedictine nunnery was a gradual affair. The nunnery became well-known as a school and disposal site for noble daughters - one could either be trained to become a presentable wife, or, maybe upon failure, stay there as a nun.
Surprisingly, the reformation didn′t do much harm to the nunnery, despite of most of Styria′s nobility turning protestant and the province being a battleground for the Habsburg′s counter-reformation. It continually grew and performed well economically - until its dissolution on order of Emperor Joseph II in 1782. The properties of Göß went to the newly installed bishop of Leoben, but not for very long.
In 1797, Napoleon made the nunnery his headquarter and later it became private property. Since 1911, it is owned by the "Gösser Brauerei" brewery, one of Austria′s best-known beer brands. Visitors can marvel at the Gothic buildings, especially the basilica with its two towers, on request.
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