Wessobrunn Abbey was founded in about 753 and dedicated to Saint Peter. According a legend Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria was hunting nearby and had a vision of three springs, which his servant Wezzo duly discovered the next day (the name means Wesso or Wezzo's spring(s)). The three springs are still to be seen, but there is otherwise no evidence of the truth of the story, and it is likely that the founders were a local noble family called Rott.
The first monks came from Niederaltaich Abbey under Ilsung, the first abbot. The church was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. During the rule of the second abbot, Adelmar (799–831), the monastery was transferred from the Diocese of Brixen to that of Augsburg. In 788 Wessobrunn became a Carolingian Empire Imperial abbey (independent of other terrorial lordships and answerable only to the monarchy) In about 900 it became a property of the Bishop of Augsburg.
In 955 the abbey was destroyed by the Hungarians, on which occasion Abbot Thiente and six of his monks suffered martyrdom, while the remaining three fled to Andechs with the sacred relics. The site was then occupied by canons until 1065, when the provost Adalbero restored the Rule of St. Benedict and governed as abbot until his death in 1110. In the first year of his abbacy the monastic church was rebuilt and was dedicated by Bishop Embrico of Augsburg.
Adalbero was succeeded by Sigihard (1110–28), during whose reign a separate church was built for the people of the surrounding area, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in 1128. Under Blessed Waltho (1129–57) Wessobrunn enjoyed its first era of great spiritual and temporal prosperity. He was responsible for a number of unusually fine buildings. Also under Waltho the nunnery attached to the abbey between about 1100 and 1220 was of note as the home of Blessed Wulfhildis and Diemoth. In or around 1220 the church burnt down, and the monastery complex was extensively rebuilt at this time.
In 1401 the abbots of Wessobrunn were granted the right of pontifical insignia. A new era of great prosperity began with the accession of Ulrich Stocklin (1438–43), who had previously been a monk at Tegernsee Abbey and acquired considerable fame as a writer of sacred hymns.Abbot Heinrich Zach (1498–1508) installed a printing press at the monastery.
In 1680 Abbot Leonard Weiss (1671–96) began the rebuilding of the church and monastery on a far more lavish scale in the Baroque style, using the abbey's own stuccoists. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Bavarian Congregation in 1684 and joined his abbey to it.
The abbey was dissolved in 1803 in the course of the secularisation of Bavaria, when it came into the possession of a certain De Montot. From 1810 the site was extensively exploited for building materials to rebuild the nearby town of Weilheim, which had been damaged in a fire. What remained in 1861 was saved by Professor Johann Nepomuk Sepp, who bought the site and preserved it. In 1900 it was acquired by Baron von Cramer-Klett.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).