Tradition has it that Count Bertold von Bibereck founded Roggenburg Monastery with his wife and brothers Konrad (Bishop of Chur) and Siegfried (Canon in Augsburg), in 1126. The first Canons Regular of Prémontré (the Order was founded in 1121 by St Norbert of Xanten in Prémontré, France) came from the nearby Ursberg Abbey.
The flourishing monastery was promoted to Abbey status in 1444 and was granted imperial immediacy in 1544. The monastery survived the devastation of the German Peasants' War, the Reformation troubles, and the destitution of the Swedish period during the Thirty Years' War.
In the blessed 18th century, a triumvirate of the great abbots Dominikus Schwaninger, Kaspar Geisler and Georg Lienhardt created the baroque wonderland which we still see today. The rebuilding of the monastery buildings started with the west wing in 1732. Work on the spacious double-towered monastery church was completed with an inaugural celebration in October 1758. The southern wing of the monastery complex was completed in 1766. The following years – overshadowed by the suffering of incoming French refugees, war, plundering and hefty contributions – caused considerable harm to the monastery.
After the Peace Treaty of Lunéville, there was nothing to stop secularisation from spreading. The Imperial Monastery of Roggenburg was occupied by the Bavarian military on September 4, 1802. On November 29 of the same year the last abbot, Thaddäus Aigler, was relieved of his office and the monastery, with its 36 canons, was dissolved. All the efforts the abbey and monastery made to continue communal life proved to be in vain.
A new beginning
180 years after secularisation, the Canons Regular of Prémontré returned to their former monastery once more. Windberg Abbey near Bogen in Lower Bavaria took over the parish of Roggenburg in October 1982. The aim of this initiative was to re-establish the Order of the Canons Regular of Prémontré at Roggenburg Monastery. Roggenburg Monastery was officially re-established in 1986 and was raised by Windberg Abbey to the rank of a dependent priorate on November 8, 1992.
After the resettlement of the monastery, the monastery community renovated the building and developed a utilisation concept for the monastery grounds. After extensive renovation work on the former western "Prelates' garden" courtyard, the House of Art and Culture was inaugurated and opened in 2001. One year later, in 2002, the Educational Centre for Families, the Environment and Culture moved into its new building. In the same year, the monastery hotel and restaurant and the monastery shop opened their doors.
Roggenburg Monastery was restored and renovated between 2008 and 2015. The starting point for the complete renovation was recognition of the desolate state of the entire monastery building in 2006. Damp and dry rot were affecting the walls, the baroque roof structure and all the beams. 200 years of the building being used for purposes other than that of a monastery had resulted in a great deal of damage. Additional structures had to be dismantled, plasterwork and frescoes were severely damaged. The monastery accommodation was upgraded to modern living standards.
The grounds were redesigned starting in 2015. The new design was based upon that of the original gardens, which was revealed after detailed research work. The terraced gardens on the southern side are designed according to a historical baroque template. In one area, a meditation garden was created with an ivy maze. The monastery herb garden has around 150 different medicinal plants in twelve beds. The garden is divided into six beds featuring important people in monastic medicine throughout history, and another six beds planted with medicinal herbs used in classical mainstream medicine and folk remedies.
A living monastery
Throughout the centuries, the Order of the Canons Regular of Prémontré in Roggenburg has always focused on the community and pastoral care; particularly parish work, but also other types of pastoral care as and where required. This still applies. Today's Roggenburg Monastery continues this rich tradition of religious and spiritual life. Other activities include pastoral care in schools, emergency counselling and hospice patient support. The cultivation of church music plays a particularly important role.