St. Stephen's Abbey, dedicated to Saint Stephen, was founded in 969 by Saint Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg, and used by Augustinian canonesses. It was dissolved in the secularisation of Bavaria in 1803, and the premises passed into the possession of the town. The army used the site for a few years as a quartermaster's store.
In 1828 King Ludwig I of Bavaria founded a grammar school here, as a successor to the former Jesuit college of St. Salvator (1582–1807). In 1835 he established the Benedictine monastery and entrusted it with the running of the school. The buildings were entirely destroyed in 1944 but have been re-built.
The monks continue to run the school and boarding house, and are engaged in pastoral and youth work.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.