In the mid-10th century, more than a thousand years ago, Rathold von Aibling settled as a hermit opposite today’s Georgenberg Monastery. According to legend, he had wanted to build the chapel elsewhere but was given a sign. Small birds picked up the blood-stained wood shavings from where a carpenter had hurt himself and took them to the place where the church was to be built: the location of today’s Georgenberg Monastery. The chronicles of the monastery say that it was also Rathold von Aibling who chose the place for the chapel ‘Unserer lieben Frau unter der Linde’ because he hung up a picture of the Virgin Mary which he obtained in Santiago de Compostela under a linden tree.
Soon more and more followers came to the place which resembled an eremitic monastery. Bishops, emperors and knights donated farms, serfs and a relic of St. George (upper arm bone which is still kept and displayed in the pilgrimage church). In 1138, Bishop Reginbert von Brixen elevated the monastery to a Benedictine Abbey. Penitential pilgrimages and pilgrimages started in the early 11th century. The first fire slowed down the flow of pilgrims, but the Miracle of the Blood in 1310 revived the pilgrimage movement. Further disasters such as the Bubonic Plague, a second fire, the split in the Church and the Black Death put an end to pilgrimages for almost 100 years. Then, in 1637, a fire caused by a bolt of lightning prompted the idea to move the monastery to the Inn valley. The idea was first met with resistance, but in 1705, after the monastery was yet again completely destroyed by a forest fire, the plans for a new building in the Inn valley were finally implemented. The monks were soon able to move into the rectangular ensemble, although construction work continued until 1709. First, the church was rebuilt on St. Georgenberg (consecrated in 1735) and then construction work was started on the baroque abbey church in Fiecht. When the abbey in the valley was used as a hospital for 200 soldiers in 1797, the monks moved back to their retreat on St. Georgenberg for a short period of time. The turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars also had an impact on the Tyrol and the monastery was dissolved in 1807. Only three monks were allowed to stay on in Fiecht and two in St. Georgenberg; all the rest had to leave the country until reunification. In October 1940, the monks had to return to St. Georgenberg again and were finally expelled from the Tyrol-Vorarlberg district by the Gestapo on 16 May 1941. After the Second World War, the community had no option but to go to their retreat in St. Georgenberg because the monastery in the valley had to be completely renovated after occupying forces had moved out. The monks moved back into Fiecht Monastery in 1955.
Distance: About 17 kilometres (10 miles)
From Stans through the Wolfsklamm gorge or follow the Way of the Cross from Vomperberg – both routes take about 1½ hours.