Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Bishop Gunther von Speyer and Sir Walter von Lomersheim appeal to Mary to accept the church as an offering, right inside of founders panel, oil on wood, 1450. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
IN ETERNAL MEMORY

THE FOUNDERS PANEL

The founders panel takes the shape of a small, wooden winged altar and was created in 1450, during the monastery's greatest economic and political period. Images and text tell a grand story of the monastery's founding and pay homage to its founders.

Bernhard von Clairvaux kneels before the enthroned Mother Mary with child and offers the church, left inside wing of founders panel, oil on wood, 1450. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Bernhard von Clairvaux kneeling before Mother Mary.

INSIDE WINGS: FOUNDER AND PATRON SAINT OF THE ORDER

One inside wing depicts founders Sir Walther von Lomersheim and Bishop Gunther of Speyer presenting the Holy Mother with the monastery church. The banner explains that they are asking Mary for her protection. The model of the monastery church that the founders hold in their hands is not very Cistercian as the order requires a church without towers! The other inside wing shows Saint Bernhard von Clairvaux kneeling before the enthroned Mother Mary, making an offering of the church.

Attack on travelers, right outside wing of founders panel, oil on wood, 1450. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Attack on travelers.

RIGHT OUTSIDE WING: PROOF OF SERVICE

This wing shows travelers and pilgrims being attacked by highwaymen and robber knights. Such scenes occur in the foundation stories of several Cistercian monasteries. They convey to observers how difficult and arduous it was for the monks to cultivate the barren land at the time of the founding, thus clearly indicating the service performed by the Cistercians.

Cistercians (in white habits) at the construction of the church, left outside wing of founders panel, oil on wood, 1450. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Cistercians at the construction of the church.

LEFT OUTSIDE WING: MASTER BUILDERS

Construction of the monastery is in full swing: carpenters, stone masons and bricklayers hurry about on the left outside wing. In the background, one Cistercian operates a treadwheel with which a stone is being raised along the western wall of the monastery church. The construction workers are monks in white habits and black scapulars – the White Monks. This representation is highly idealized, the reality was quite different. Lay monks in brown work habits performed such "menial" work.

THE CENTER PANEL: WHAT IS THE FOUNDING DATE?

In German, the large center panel tells of the founders graves, the founding of the monastery and its consecration. In 1575 and 1616, the wings were painted over and the text on the center panel was changed. Conspicuous: The founding date was changed from 1147 to 1138. However, this site was not founded until 1147. The Cistercians moved eight kilometers from Eckenweiher, where Sir Walter had provided land in 1138, because it was considered an unfavorable location with insufficient resources for building a monastery.

Center panel of the founders panel, oil on wood, 1450. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Center panel of the founders panel with writing about the founding story of Maulbronn Monastery.

TIPP

The original location of the founders panel is unknown. Over the centuries, its location changed. As of 1997, this work of art, so steeped in history, is displayed in the monastery museum in the Frühmesserhaus (house for the monk conducting early mass).

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