Niederaltaich Abbey was founded in 731 or possibly 741 by Duke Odilo of Bavaria. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Maurice, was settled by monks from Reichenau Abbey under Saint Pirmin. Eberswind, the first abbot, is considered the compiler of the Lex Baiuvariorum, the first code of law of the Bavarian people.
The monastery brought great areas of Lower Bavaria into cultivation as far as the territory of the present Czech Republic, and founded 120 settlements in the Bavarian Forest. In the reigns of Charlemagne and Louis the German the abbey extended its possessions as far as the Wachau. Abbot Gozbald (825-855) was the latter's arch-chancellor.
In 848 the monastery received the right of free election of its abbots, and in 857 became reichsunmittelbar (free of all territorial lordship except that of the monarchy itself). By the end of the 9th century over 50 monks had become abbots in other monasteries or been appointed bishops. The 10th century however brought the turmoil of the Hungarian incursions, and between 950 and 990 the monastery was a residential foundation (Kollegiatstift).
Under Abbot Gotthard or Godehard of Hildesheim (996-1022), better known as Saint Gotthard, the monastery entered a renewed golden age. Saint Gotthard, who along with Duke Henry of Bavaria, later Emperor Henry II, was a key supporter of contemporary monastic reform, was probably the abbey's best-known abbot. He later became Bishop of Hildesheim, where he was buried.
The abbey was granted by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to the Bishop of Bamberg in 1152, and as a consequence lost its reichsunmittelbar status. In 1242 the Wittelsbachs inherited from the Counts of Bogen the office of Vogt (lord protector) of the abbey.
Important abbots from this time on were Hermann (in office from 1242 to 1273), the author of the 'Annales Hermanni', and the Reformation abbots Kilian Weybeck (1503 to 1534) and Paulus Gmainer (1550 to 1585). Vitus Bacheneder, abbot between 1651 and 1666, created after the Thirty Years' War the foundations of the economic prosperity of the abbey in the Baroque period. Under Abbot Joscio Hamberger (1700–1739) the creation of the Baroque abbey and church took place, as well as the construction of the school. The church was the first commission for the later famous Baroque architect Johann Michael Fischer, who worked on it from 1724–1726.
The abbey was dissolved at the secularisation of Bavaria in 1803. A fire in the church in 1813, caused by a bolt of lightning, signalled the beginning of the demolition of the Baroque complex. The monastery buildings were sold off to private individuals. The side chapels of the abbey church, the Gothic cloisters and adjoining buildings, as well as the parish church, were demolished.
In 1918, with the help of a legacy from the theology professor Franz Xaver Knabenbauer, a native of Niederalteich, a monastery was re-established here and settled from Metten Abbey. In 1932 the monastery church received from the pope the title of Basilica minor.
In 1949, under Abbot Emmanuel Maria Heufelder, the monastery became once again an independent abbey.
In 1946 the St. Gotthard Gymnasium was refounded after having been closed by the Nazis. The remaining parts of the Baroque buildings were incorporated into new buildings in 1953–1954 and gradually renovated. In 1959 the Catholic State Secondary School was established here, and between 1971 and 1973 a new school building was erected for the St. Gotthard Gymnasium because the number of pupils had continually risen in the 1960s. Its boarding facilities, however, were shut down in 1994 and converted in 1999–2001 into the St. Pirmin Conference and Hospitality Centre.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.