Lichtenthal Abbey is a Cistercian nunnery founded in 1245 by Irmengard bei Rhein, widow of Margrave Hermann V of Baden. Her body was brought here in 1248 from Backnang Abbey for re-burial. She seriously over-reached herself financially on the project, however, and was obliged to ask her family for help.
The imposing gateway, built in 1781, leads into a three-sided walled courtyard with a fountain dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by the various abbey and domestic buildings, the school, the abbey church, the Prince's Chapel and the hermit's chapel. The Gothic abbey church, of which the choir dates from the 14th century and the nave from the 15th, contains works of art and furnishings of many dates, particularly of the 15th century, as at this time, on the initiative of the Abbess Margaret of Baden, the church interior was lavishly refurbished and ornamented.
The Prince's Chapel was built in 1288, and until 1372 was the burial place of the Margraves of Baden. Here is also the tomb of the foundress, Margravine Irmengard. Besides the tombs, the high altar and several side altars, this chapel also contains the statue of the 'Madonna of the Keys', so called because in times of danger the abbey keys are entrusted to her. (The abbey has until now survived every danger unscathed, as is related in a Baden-Baden drinking song).
The three statues over the gateway are from the nearby ruined All Saints' Abbey and represent Saint Helena, above, Abbot Gerung, first abbot of All Saints, to the left, and his mother and the foundress of All Saints, the Duchess Uta of Schauenburg, to the right, who was a relative of the Margravine Irmengard.
The hermit's chapel, built in 1678, is used as a mortuary chapel for the nuns.
The abbey belongs to the Mehrerau Congregation. The nuns particularly devote themselves to teaching - the nunnery accommodates the primary school of Lichtenthal - and to religious handicrafts.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.