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The Limburg History

The Limburg History

From about 500 b.c. Celtic princes resided on the "Lintberg" (Lint-hill, lint derived from the lintworm, something like a dragon, but probably from Linde, the lime-tree). In the ninth century - after the mass migration - Salic dukes who resided in Worms (Rhine) built on the site of the Celtic Fortress a castle for protection against the Normans, Slaves an Hungarians.

On the occasion of his election to the German throne on September 8th., 1024, Conrad II., a descendant of Otto I. and his spouse Gisela from the family of Charles the Great, ordered their family castle to be transformed into a Benedictine Monastery. The monks should pray for God's blessing for the royal family and for the reign. Abbot Poppo von Stablo and the monk and later abbot Gumbert were the master builders. Conrad II., German Emperor since 1025, founded Speyer Cathedral also at that time. It is significant for the importance of the Limburg monastery (the name of the old castle was perserved) that the Imperial Insignia were stored there from 1034 to 1065.

On February 16th., 1035 the three altars in the crypt were consecrated in the presence of Emperor Conrad II.; in the next year abbot Gumbert, the master builder, died. His tombstone is enclosed today in the western wall of the crypt. He didn't see the day of the monastery's completation just as Conrad II., the imperial founder: he died in 1039. But the son of the latter, Henry III., continued the buildings. In 1038 his first wife Gunhild, a daughter of Knud of Denmark, died - probably of malaria - aged 16 in Italy; she was buried in the Limburg Cathedral. Her remains were found by Friedrich Sprater in 1935 and were later (1943) buried in their old place. Today a plaque tells her story in the eastern end of the main aisle.

Following the "Strasburg Advent dispute" a synode took place in 1038 at the Limburg monastery, in the course of which the beginning of the Advent season was settled definitively for the entire Christendom, thus a testimony of the fact that in those times the imperial power also regulated ecclesiastical concerns.

In 1042 the cathedral was finished and consecrated in honour of The Holy Cross. Two years earlier the high altar in the choir had been consecrated in honour of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Obviously the main designation "ad sanctam crucem" was the official name of the monastery in those times. So the insignia of the abey show a black cross encirceled by a crown of thorns in a silver field. In the monastery a relic of the Holy Cross was venerated, which Emperor Henry III. had brought back from Italy in 1047.

As a monastery had no soldiers, the safety of it was guaranteed by a protective governor. those governors were first the Salians, after them in 1206 the Counts of Liningen. In 1212 these Counts of Liningen illegally built the Hardenburg castle on a piece of Limburg monastery's land; this caused a quarrel which was only ended by an agreement in 1249. Thereupon it seems that there was a long period of good relationship between Limburg monastery and the Counts of Leiningen; how else abbot Peter of Wachenheim would have engaged himself in 1404 decumentary to undertake nothing regarding the welfare of the monastery without prior advice and assistance of the Counts of Leiningen! But there were set-backs, too: In the war between Elector Frederic "the victorious" from Palatinate and Leiningen-Veldenz 1470/71 Limburg monastery was plundered by soldiers of Leiningen-Hardenburg. For this reason the abbot of Limburg contacted the elector of Palatinate, who finally became the protective governor instead of the Leiningen Counts.

A few years later the emperial ban on Elector Philipp of Palatinate, who had disobeyed the emperors decision on the succession in the Duchy of Bavaria-Landshut caused the "Landshut war of succession". During this, on August 30th., 1504, Limburg monastery was plundered and burnt. Contemporaries reported that the fire raged for twelve days.

Rebuilding began in 1515; only the choir of the cathedral could be rebuilt; it was closed to the intersection of the nave by a wall. This new beginnin soon was stopped by the Reformation. As the monks did not accept the new teaching, Elector Frederic of Palatinate ordered that no more novices should be received.

So monastic life died and the cathedral was used as a quarry till the municipal government of Dürkheim acquired the ruins in 1843. Since that time the ruins have been preserved.

As a result of the cooperation of the municipal government of Bad Dürkheim, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, these three participants have invested since 1971 more than 1.250.000 EURO to secure the ruins and to rebuild parts of them; the two barrel vaults in the westside, the romanic tower in the north west and the window openings of the nave were restored.

In 1976, the "Aktion Limburg e.V." was founded. The association with about 250 members donated the columns and capitals for the crypt, which then was restored with city-, country- and federal republic money. Later "Aktion Limburg" restored the crypt windows and financed the repair of the floor of the "summer-refectory", the only edifice whose ruins are preserved in addition to those of the cathedral. In the summer refectory a vaulted cellar is still preserved. It is our aim to restore the summer refectory in order to create a residence for the host of the Limburg inn as well as a modern inn and rooms for meetings or conferences.

A benefit-medal wants to support "Aktion Limburg e.V." in creating the future financial basis for the restoration of the summer refectory at the north of the ruins.

The front shows Emperor Conrad Ii as represented by a seal discovered in 1935 in the crypt. The inscription reads "CUNRADUS DeI GRATIA ROMANORum IMPERATOR AUGustus". The back shows the ruins of the abbey in their actual state and the insignia, besides the text "Limburg monastery above Bad Dürkheim - founded about 1030 by Emperor Conrad II."

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