This I found, from men, as the foremost wisdom,
That neither earth there was, nor sky above;
Nor tree, nor hill there was.
Nor stars there were; nor shone the sun.
Nor moon-light there was, nor the salty sea.
Nothing there was: neither end, nor limit.
And there was the One Almighty God,
The mildest of men; and many were with them,
Godly Ghosts: and God the Holy.
— From the Wessobrunn Prayer, the earliest known poetic works in Old High German from the 8th century.
The Benedictine Wessobrunn Abbey is steeped in history and legends. According to stories, the monastery has been haunted for centuries. From martyred monks to a disobedient nun, their ghosts still haunt the holy place.
In 955, the Hungarians invaded part of today’s Germany and wanted to draw the German army out in the open and destroy it.
On their way they came across the Wessobrunn Abbey and burned it all down to the ground. Three of the monks managed to flee to Andechs with their sacred relics they had kept in the Abbey. Abbot Thiente and six of his monks never got out alive though and suffered martyrdom, dying for their faith.
After the defeat of the Hungarians on the Lechfeld, the spiritual life in Wessobrunn Abbey goes into a shadow period. Not much is known about when the first monks started coming back to the place after the sacking.
Today there is a cross commemorating the martyrs just above Wessobrunn. Legend has it that the six dead monks have haunted the place ever since.
The New Wessobrunn Abbey
It was not the last time the abbey was burnt down, and it was not the last time they decided to rebuild it either. Close to the site where the former Wessobrunn Abbey once stood, they built a new one, continuing the tradition of a monastery at the place.
The monastery of Wessobrunn, near Weilheim in Bavaria had been founded in the 8th century. From 1100 the community of male monks was joined by a sisterhood as well and it included both a community of nuns and monks. There are also legends about one of the nuns in the abbey haunting the place as a ghost.
The Ghost of the Nun
According to this legend there was a nun in the 13th century who might have been a sister of Knight Joseph Diethalm von Wileyhin, the last Count of Weilheim. It is said she entered Wessobrunn Abbey after her brother’s death in 1211.
But the way of the sisters is not for everyone and according to the stories, she broke one of her vows of the order. Nuns had to live by strict rules of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Exactly what type of vows she broke are unclear, but it scared her so that she ran off. She hid in an underground passage back at her family’s home in Göterlberg.
Without seeing the sun ever again, she died shortly after and her remains were not found until many years had come and passed. From then on it is reported of sightseeings of a nun around the castle as well as her old abbey, crying in the hallways, still in her nuns’ habit.
Up until the 1800s it was said that locals threw spruce cones into a hollow said to be the former corridor where the nun hid on her escape from the Wessobrunn Abbey to scare away the ghost.
Today there are still a cluster of Benedictine nuns living after God’s words within the walls of the abbey, still seeing their long dead sister walking the halls.
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