Summer exhibition at the Abbey Library of Saint Gall

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall’s 2019 summer exhibition focuses on Otmar, the second founder of the Abbey of Saint Gall, and the eighth century world. The exhibition will be open to visitors in the Baroque Hall at the Abbey Library of Saint Gall until November 17, 2019.

The Abbey of Saint Gall from above. Photo courtesy of the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.

 

The beginning of Walahfrid Strabo’s account of Otmar’s life in the earliest manuscript (circa 890/900). Abbey Library of Saint Gal, Cod. Sang. 562, S. 97. Photo courtesy of the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.

The earliest depiction of Saint Otmar with the wine barrel as his attribute (1430/1436). Abbey Library of Saint Gall, Cod. Sang. 586, S. 323. Photo courtesy of the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.

Revival of Saint Gall’s monastic community in 719

In 719, 1,300 years ago, the local ruler Waltram handed over the task of leading worship at Saint Gall’s grave to the Alemannia-born Otmar, who was educated in Chur, and appointed him as abbot. Otmar revived the local monastic community, which had been started by Saint Gall in 612 and had since become somewhat dormant. He founded the Abbey of Saint Gall and established it as a religious center, which quickly gained followers.

Support and sanctuary for Alemannic people

During the eighth century, Otmar’s abbey became a social beacon for the local community, providing support and sanctuary for Alemannic people from the wider Lake Constance region. By way of thanks, people gifted land to the abbey on the river Steinach, making it rich.

A monk takes some food to Otmar in Bodman, where he is imprisoned. A pen drawing in the German account of Otmar’s life (1451/1460). Abbey Library of Saint Gall, Cod. Sang. 602, S. 224. Photo courtesy of the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.

Support and sanctuary for Alemannic people

During the eighth century, Otmar’s abbey became a social beacon for the local community, providing support and sanctuary for Alemannic people from the wider Lake Constance region. By way of thanks, people gifted land to the abbey on the river Steinach, making it rich.

Between Franconia and Alemannia

When Franconia and Alemannia began vying for power, Otmar was caught in the cross-fire. In a political trial, he was sentenced to death by starvation in the palace in Bodman. However, this punishment was later reduced to exile to the small river island of Werd in Stein am Rhein, where he died on November 16, 759.

When the monks bring Otmar’s body from the island of Werd back to St. Gallen, they miraculously never run out of wine. The opaque watercolor painting serves as a preface to reports on the various relocations of Otmar relics. Abbey Library of Saint Gall, Cod. Sang. 1719, S. 24b. Photo courtesy of the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.

St. Gallen’s social saint

In the 9th century, Otmar was canonized alongside Gall as St. Gallen’s second saint, and a church was built in his name to the west of the Abbey’s large church. He is St. Gallen’s social saint.

The pieces for the “Father to the poor – Otmar and the Origins of the Abbey of St. Gall” exhibition are displayed in the Baroque Hall at the Abbey Library. Photo courtesy of the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.

More information about the Abbey Library of Saint Gall is available on the official website.

More information about the exhibition “Father to the poor – Otmar and the Origins of the Abbey of St. Gall” exhibition is available on the Abbey’s website.

Click here to view the detailed summer program as a PDF.

The Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints also provides detailed information about Otmar of St. Gallen.

The Abbey of Saint Gall was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. This video by the Katholisches Medienzentrum (Catholic media center) provides an insight into the history and architecture of the fascinating sacred building.