IN 1863, two Benedictine monks founded a monastic community in the former Augustinian monastery of Beuron in the Danube Valley. The two monks were Maurus and Placid Wolter, who had made profession in the ancient Benedictine abbey of St. Paul in Rome six years previously.



IN 1857 Rudolph Wolter, a secular priest from the diocese of Cologne, had been professed as a Benedictine monk at the abbey of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome: he was given the religions name “Maurus”.  He had followed his brother Ernst, also a priest, into monastic life.  Ernst had been professed the previous year and had received the name “Placidus”.

St. Paul-Outside-theWalls, Rome:  Nave 

 St. Paul-Outside-theWalls, Rome: Apse

In 1860 the Brothers Wolter came to know the recently-widowed Princess Katherina Von Hohenzollern, an extremely pious noblewoman who asked the Wolters to accompany her on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1860. With the financial and political backing of the princess, the Wolters began to make plans for the restoration of monastic life in Germany.

  Beuron Abbey Church

 Abbey Church, Interior

IN 1861 Abbot Pescatelli, the new superior of St. Paul’s, who considered his German subjects less an asset than had his predecessor, gave his grudging consent to the project of a monastic foundation from St. Paul’s in Germany.

  Side Chapel, Apse

 Sede Sapientiae, Cloister

IN 1863 the Wolters relocated in the former Augustinian monastery of Beuron in the Danube Valley. Following the German Secularization Decrees of 1803 the property had come into the possession of the Von Hohenzollerns; and the princess was delighted to offer the two brothers the opportunity of settling on her property. They began to distance themselves from their mother-abbey in Rome, and they developed  - and maintained over the years - close links with Abbot Prosper Gueranger at Solesmes.

  Chapter Room

 Monastic Refectory

WITH the help of the princess, the Wolters elaborated a plan which would give them wider scope for the “unfettered development” of specifically German Benedictine monasticism. In February, 1863 Abbot Pescatelli was astonished to discover that the fledgling community at Beuron had been elevated to a priory through the direct intervention of the Holy See, and that Maurus Wolter had been named prior.


  St. Benedict, Cloister

THE community had the right to its own novitiate and was recognized as completely independent of St. Paul’s: the priory of Beuron was authorized to follow the Constitutions of Solesmes rather than those of the the Cassineee Congregation, to which St. Paul’s belonged. The princess had directly petitioned Pius IX to sever the links between St. Paul’s and Beuron, and her petition had been accepted.

IN 1875 the German anticlerical Kulturkampf drove the monks out of Beuron and Germany, into a twelve-year exile. During this exile new foundations were made in Belgium (Maredsous, 1872), England (Erdington, 1876) Prague (Emmaus, 1880), Steirmarck, Austria (Seckau, 1887), Louvain (1888), and Maria Laach (1892). When the monks were permitted to return to Beuron in 1887, it was to a home that had been elevated to abbatial status in 1884 (again with the assistance of the princess).  In 1888 the Beuronese Constitutions were approved in Rome.










BEURON and the

Sant' Anselmo







IN addition to their own direct foundations, the monks of Beuron contributed actively to the creation of the new international Benedictine Confederation.  As Dom Alan Reese has written:

...In the latter part of the nineteenth century the Beuronese were a ginger group within the Benedictine order, setting out to raise the general standard of monastic observance. They were sometimes feared because they were credited with believing that the way to reform lay through increased centralization. They assented more eagerly than did most Benedictines to Leo XIII's plans for closer coordination of the different Congregations within the framework of the Benedictine Confederation which he instituted in 1893, having already united the different branches of the Franciscans and the Cistercians.

The first two heads of this Pan-Benedictine body were former Beuronese abbots, the old Papal Zouave and amateur architect, Hildebrand de Hemptinne of Maredsous, and Fidelis von Stotzingen of Maria Laach. Both these formidable men had long incumbencies and under their guidance the international college of Sant'Anselmo, Rome, which they made their headquarters, was subjected to Beuronese customs and ceremonial, while of all Congregations the Beuronese were probably the most generous in providing that college with professors and lay-brothers. Thus the vision of monasticism which had been disclosed to Beuron by Solesmes soon pervaded all Benedictine houses through the channels of this international network. (Benedict's Disciples)

ON his death in 1900 Archabbot Maurus Maurus was succeeded by his brother, Placidus, who had been Abbot of Maredsous in Wallonia, Belgium.

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