13. Benedictine women in Traunkirchen
Traunkirchen Abbey through the ages
Canonesses and order monastery
Unfortunately, documents, original death books and annals of the early days of the monastery are missing. The transcripts, which were often made centuries later, only reveal first names in a wide variety of spellings, without precise information about the person, days of death without years. It is therefore almost impossible to establish an actual chronology of the first abbesses, as well as of the foundresses and benefactors of the nuns' foundation.
Like many monasteries in the 11th century, Traunkirchen may have been revived or founded as a property of a community of canonesses, that are women of the foundation who did not take monastic vows but lived in a religious community. To prevent secularization, the common wealth was divided into separate benefices and divided among the individual canonesses. Common prayers and pastoral care of the incorporated parishes were the main tasks of the monastery. In the 11th and 12th century, community life was tightened and many monasteries were reformed along the ideals of the nunneries. Most of the monasteries consolidated themselves as a community under an an abbess (Reverend mother), living according to common rules.
Benedictine Abbey of Traunkirchen
Secular founders were primarily concerned with their memoria, with collective memory of them and their own clan. The founders Graf Wilhalm, his wife Leopirgis and his brother Luitold brought nuns from the familiar Benedictine abbey Nonnberg to their Traunkirchen monastery because they had good kinship with the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In order to maintain power and influence, the abbesses were mostly called from the founding family or a related noble family, also the first abbess Ata, from the Otakar family. It is believed that Ata was the daughter of Otakar, Ocis (+ 1020) and Wilbirgs of Wels Lambach. Ata would therefore be the sister of the Styrian margrave Otakar I, who became reeve of Traunkirchen by heir.
Traunkirchen became a nunnery according to the Benedictine rule. The nuns were active in all areas of church and public life. This was an agricultural enterprise for self-sufficiency, administration of manor property, care of the monastic parishes, writing and painting school, library, artistic workshop, medicinal herb garden, a monastery pharmacy etc. The abbey was responsible for the spiritual well-being of its parishioners, employer for the people, protection and shelter in times of misery, place of jurisdiction and mediator of art and culture. Traunkirchen also belonged to the long line of those medieval monasteries that can be aptly described as “hospitals of the nobility”. Religious and economic life flourished in this Benedictine nuns' time.
Description of the painting aboce:
Carl Ritter, Gmunden City Archives, manuscript 129, OÖLA
a. Countess Leopirgis, foundress of our church, from the Book of the Dead on August 20
b. Count Otakar, father of Atha, the first abbess of this place. From the Book of the Dead on March 24, and according to the Chronicle of Bruschius in Vol. 141, he is also called the founder. And from the sacred historiography of the venerable R. P. Sigismund Pusch it is attested that this was the 4th Ottokar, whose mother was Wilburgis, his wife the Austrian Elisabetha, the daughter of Leopold the Beautiful, and he was the son of Leopold the Brave.
c. Leopold or Leotolt, count of our congregation of this place, from the Book of the Dead on August 9th, Countess Wilburg, grandmother Leotolds, from the Book of the Dead on February 8th are also mentioned in a catalog of anniversaries, which is contained in the Urbarium Volume 71, chest B, number 5, Leotold and Wilburg. (Translation E. Höllwerth)
© E. Rumpf, R. Hofbauer; Translation: XiBIT Infoguide GmbH