Schänis Abbey was founded in the 9th century. According to the report of a monk from Reichenau Abbey the founder was believed to be Count Hunfried of Chur-Rhaetia, who was said to have promised Charlemagne to make the foundation for the worthy safekeeping of a precious reliquary cross containing a fragments of the True Cross, as well as an onyx vessel containing some of the Blood of Christ. Such evidence as is available does indicate that the abbey was founded at about that time, possibly as a daughter foundation of St. Stephan's Abbey in Strasbourg, but the foundation at Schänis soon fell into obscurity.
After many years Ulrich I, Count of Lenzburg, restored the abbey to prosperity and a sound economic footing by numerous gifts of property. Also, by exchanges of land and rights of patronage he created a stable and unified ecclesiastical and parochial structure in the foundation's immediate vicinity. It was presumably at this time that the dedication was altered from the 'Holy Cross' to Saint Sebastian.
In 1045 Emperor Henry III granted Schänis Abbey royal immunity and free election of its abbesses. Despite several attempts at reform Schänis remained a free secular canonry with relatively relaxed rules. In the 14th century it lost its estates in Vorarlberg and the Rhine valley.
The Vögte generally came from the greater aristocracy of the region. By inheritance from the Lenzburgs the Vogtei passed first to the counts of Kyburg, then later to the Habsburgs and the Counts of Toggenburg. By the transfer of the lordship of Windegg to the cantons of Glarus and Schwyz in 1438 the abbey passed, as part of the common overlordship of Windegg, to the Old Swiss Confederacy. Although the German Kaiser confirmed the abbey's rights in 1442, the connection to the Holy Roman Empire was broken; Glarus and Schwyz considered themselves from that point onwards as successors to the royal Vögte.
Nevertheless the abbess continued to bear the title of Princess of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite further attempts to reform the abbey's monastic life, there was no compulsion to take vows and only women of the aristocracy were accepted as community members. Applicants were initially obliged to prove descent from four grandparents of the higher aristocracy, but later from 16 great-great-grandparents of the same rank. In this way Schänis became a place of care for the unmarried female offspring of the higher nobility of southern Germany.
During the Reformation the abbey was briefly suspended in 1529, but reinstated in 1531 after the re-Catholicisation of the Linthgebiet. In 1585 and again in 1610 it burnt down, with the destruction of all the ancient deeds and privileges. At the same time there were increasing conflicts with the protecting powers, Glarus and Schwyz, who felt the foundation to be an alien body and treated it accordingly.
In 1782 the community buildings and the church were refurbished in the Rococo style. After the end of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1798 Schänis Abbey, by the operation of the Act of Mediation of 1803, lost all its feudal rights and was gradually forced to dispose of all possessions outside the canton of St. Gallen. In 1811 the Great Council of the canton dissolved the abbey. The community buildings were sold at auction and the church was taken over for the use of the parish.References:
Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years.
The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty, of which the only remaining parts are the Patio de Naranjas, the Puerta del Perdon (on Calle Alemanes, on the north side), and the Giralda (formerly the minaret, now the belltower).
Shortly after Seville's conquest by Ferdinand III, the mosque was converted into the city's cathedral. Its orientation was changed and its spaces partitioned and adorned to suit Christian worship practices. The internal space was gradually divided into chapels by constructing walls in the bays along the northern and southern walls. Almost the entire eastern half of the cathedral was occupied by the royal chapel that would hold the bodies of Ferdinand, his wife and Alfonso the Wise.
In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that served as the cathedral until then. Construction continued until 1506. The clergy of the parish offered half their stipends to pay for architects, artists, stained glass artisans, masons, carvers, craftsman and labourers and other expenses. Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral recommenced. The crossing again collapsed in 1888 due an earthquake, and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.
The interior has the longest nave of any cathedral in Spain. The central nave rises to a height of 42 metres. In the main body of the cathedral, the most noticeable features are the great boxlike choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave, and the vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. This altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart.
The Capilla Mayor (Great Chapel), dominated by a vast Gothic retablo (altarpiece) comprised of 45 carved scenes from the life of Christ, as well as Santa Maria de la Sede, the cathedral's patron saint. The lifetime's work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart, this is the ultimate masterpiece of the cathedral - the largest and richest altarpiece in the world and one of the finest examples of Gothic woodcarving anywhere.
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Its height is 105 m. The Giralda is the former minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule, and was built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral after the Reconquista, although the topmost section dates from the Renaissance.
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is one of the main attractions of the cathedral for visitors, housing the remains of the great explorer who died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from the 1892, with four bearers presenting the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.