Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Saturday 13 April |
Saint of the Day: Pope St. Martin I
Aleteia logo
Travel
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Einsiedeln Abbey: the Benedictine legacy in the Swiss Alps

Opactwo benedyktynów w Einsiedeln

Alexander Chaikin | Shutterstock

Daniel Esparza - published on 03/23/24

Being the largest place of pilgrimage in Switzerland, its story is radically tied to the expansion of the Benedictine order throughout Europe.

For over a thousand years, amidst the Swiss Alps, Einsiedeln Abbey has been a beacon of faith and scholarship. Being the largest place of pilgrimage in Switzerland, its story is radically tied to the expansion of the Benedictine order throughout Europe.

Founded in the 9th century by St. Meinrad (a hermit monk who sought a life of solitude and devotion, known as “the Martyr of Hospitality”), Einsiedeln Abbey has blossomed into Switzerland’s largest monastery and a significant Marian pilgrimage site.

At the heart of the Abbey’s enduring legacy lies the revered Black Madonna. Enshrined within the Chapel of Grace (Gnadenkapelle), this 15th-century statue is the focal point for countless pilgrims who have journeyed for centuries to venerate this beloved icon of the Virgin Mary. 

A number of legends shroud the statue’s origins, somehow adding to its historical and spiritual significance.

EINSIEDELN
According to tradition, St. Meinrad received a black statue of the Virgin Mary from a nearby abbess.

Most of these legends point at St. Meinrad of Einsiedeln, the catalyst for the Abbey’s story –and that of the Black Madonna, too. After studying at a renowned monastery school, he became a monk and later a hermit, drawn to the solitude of the Swiss Alps. According to tradition, he received a black statue of the Virgin Mary from a nearby abbess.

Meinrad was later tragically murdered by thieves, but his legacy lived on, attracting pilgrims to the site where the Abbey now stands.

The Benedictine order, established by St. Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century, played a crucial role in shaping Einsiedeln’s character. Their emphasis on prayer and self-sufficiency made the Abbey what it is today. The renowned library, brimming with ancient manuscripts and religious texts, speaks volumes (no pun intended) of their dedication to scholarship.

Daily Masses and monastic hours, including the hauntingly beautiful Salve Regina sung every evening, invite visitors to share in the spiritual rhythm of the Benedictine community.

EINSIEDELN
Einsiedeln Abbey has blossomed into Switzerland’s largest monastery and a significant Marian pilgrimage site.

Einsiedeln Abbey’s story is one of perseverance and hard work. It beckons travelers seeking not only spiritual renewal but also a glimpse into a rich monastic tradition and a captivating encounter with the Black Madonna – a revered symbol that continues to draw pilgrims from all the Christian world.

Tags:
MonksPilgrimagesSaintsTravelVirgin Mary
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Aleteia-Pilgrimage-300×250-1.png
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.