Abbazia di Novacella
The Blessed Hartmann, provost of the Augustinian Canons Regular monastery of Klosterneuburg near Vienna, was appointed bishop of Brixen in 1140.
At Brixen Hartmann did not follow the example of the archbishop of Salzburg Konrad I of Abensberg (1106-1147) in that he refrained from reforming the cathedral chapter by introducing the Rule of St. Augustine. It is assumed he did this because of strong opposition expected on the part of the canons.
Rather than doing this he chose to found the Augustinian Canons Regular monastery of Novacella three kilometers to the north of the bishop’s residence. In doing so he was actively supported by the Reginbert, the burgrave of Säben, and his wife Christina. Both endowed this new foundation with extensive land and rights.
In 1157 when Neustift was still under its first provost Heinrich I (1143-1164), Hartmann granted the monastery to the parish of Natz in whose territory it was situated. From the moment of this incorporation the parish’s pastoral care was carried out directly by the monastery. Around the year 1160 Hartmann also handed over the parish of Kiens to the Canons Regular of Neustift.
St. Augustine and his rule
The Augustinian rule is the oldest handed-down monastic rule in the western world. Augustine wrote it around the year 397 after he had been elevated to Bishop of Hippo Regius in 395/396 AD.
In just a few pages, with this rule Augustine wishes to impart to his monastic community his basic principles of a religious life led in a community. The biblical foundation of his message is constantly palpable in the text. He brings to life the ideal of the early Christian community in Jerusalem as exemplary for the fundamental spiritual values of love and the community. Augustine is less concerned about the minutiae of everyday life, but rather the basic tenor of Christian love from which a successful community emerges.
In all, three rules which, in their turn exist in various versions, have over time been attributed to St. Augustine. They are the ‘Rule for Women’(Regularis informatio), the `Rule for Men` (Praeceptum) and the `Basic Order for a Monastery`(Ordo monasterii). In recent decades extensive critical text research has revealed that Augustine was the true author of only the Praeceptum with a version for women and another for men.
Abbazia di Novacella today
More than 850 years after its foundation, the Augustinian Canons Regular monastery of Neustift, its community of Canons and staff, still carry out a wide variety of duties, all of which could be described as pastoral care in the wider sense.
Today the Neustift Canons Regular still serve more than 20 parishes where their work involves pastoral care duties. In addition to classic pastoral care work they also continue to carry out their education mandate in various forms. The Neustift school boarding house opened at the beginning of the 1970s to accommodate almost 100 boys. At the same time the tourist centre opened, responding to the growing importance of tourism for the monastery and South Tyrol in general which became evident in the increasing numbers of visitors who continue to come year after year to become acquainted with Neustift and join in guided tours of the monastery complex. This also led to the foundation of the present-day Novacella Education and Conference Centre.
The monastery still maintains itself economically through the cultivation and sales of agricultural products such as culinary herbs and fruit. In addition the wines from the Novacella/Neustift vineyards and monastery winery are famous throughout the world and have scooped the most coveted national and international awards.
A wealth of art historical treasures and other remarkable attractions awaits visitors to the monastery complex: the collegiate church suffused with light is the southern-most example of southern German late Baroque architecture and the perfect place to pause for reflection or a quiet prayer. The cloistered courtyard adjoins the church, characterized by Gothic arches and embellished with frescoes by various artists.
Numerous Gothic panel paintings and altar pieces by Friedrich Pacher and artists from his school, precious manuscripts and other liturgical treasures, as well as scientific and historical instruments are on show in the pinacotheca, while the monastery library is a real gem, accommodating around 92,000 precious volumes in its large Rococo style hall.
Guided monastery tours (min. 10 persons) take place from Monday to Saturday at 10am/11am/ 2pm/3pm and 4pm (excluding Sundays and holy days of obligation). Additional tours available at 12 noon and 1pm from mid July to mid September.
The ticket counter is closed on Mondays from the beginning of January to the end of March, though tours can be nevertheless be booked in advance.
Advance notice required for groups.
The Abbazia di Novacella is part of the Culturronda.
Prices for monastery tours:
Individuals 7.00 €
Pre-booked groups (min. 10 persons) 6.00 €
Children aged 10 and over 3.00 €
School classes per pupil (aged up to 17) 3.00 €
Online reservations are possible until 5.00 pm (local time) of the day before your visit (Monday to Friday).
Short-term reservations are possible only by phone: +39 0472 836189.