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Baroque gem and Götz von Berlichingen's burial place
Schöntal Monastery
Exterior of Schöntal Monastery. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Anja Stangl

Wise counselThe founding myth

In Latin “speciosa vallis,” in German “Schöntal”: Schöntal Monastery is idyllically situated on the Jagst river. When the monastery was first founded, Neusaß was the preferred site as it belonged to the monastery's benefactor. However, after the monks encountered an old man, they began to consider settlement in the river valley.

Exterior of the pilgrimage chapel, Neusaß in Schöntal. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Jürgen Besserer

Neusaß was the original location intended for the monastery.

The monastery's beginnings in Neusaß

Many monasteries have obscure beginnings. Likewise, little information remains about the founding of Schöntal Monastery. Researchers know that Wolfram von Bebenburg first founded the monastery in Neusaß, on his land south of Schöntal. The Neusaß pilgrimage church still stand there today. A legend tells of the later relocation to the Jagst valley following an unusual encounter with an old man.

View of the valley around Schöntal Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger

Down into the valley, recommended an unknown party.

Wise council from an old man

While benefactor Wolfram von Bebenburg and three monks from Maulbronn conversed at the monastery's intended site in Neusaß an unfamiliar man suddenly stood before them. This man wanted to know what they were so avidly discussing. When he learned of their intention, this wise man replied: “Abandon this place and look downhill, where there is a beautiful valley.” The old man left the four religious men where they stood and disappeared again suddenly, but his words remained.

Exterior of Schöntal Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Jürgen Besserer

Access to the river offered independence.

Well chosen: a site on the river

The old man’s advice was heeded. The noble Berlichingen family provided the land along the Jagst river. The monastery sits beside the river to this day. The site was well chosen: The direct supply of water to the monastery enables economic autonomy. Last but not least, the Cistercian order rules stipulated that a monastery must be traversed by a body of water. By following the old man's advice, the monks were also adhering to their own presets.

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