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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our Uncle Fridolin Kleger the Scholar and Monk

Pater Fridolin Kleger

My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great Uncle, Fridolin Kleger, was born on 29 December 1646.  His parents were Georg Kleger and Verena Lugstenmann.  

His younger brother, Joseph Kleger (of course a Joseph) was my Eight Times Great Grandfather.

Fridolin "professed" (became a priest) in August 1670 ordained by the Bishop of Constance, and that November was given the title Professor of Grammar and Elementary Education at the Monestary at Einsiedeln, Canton Schwyz, Switzerland.  He was associated with Einsiedeln Abbey the rest of his life.

There is a record of his service accessible on-line in the archives from the monastery.  

From it we learn that his duties at Einsiedeln included included Kapellmeister (head of music) in 1671, and Professor of Theology in 1673. Pater (Father) Fridolin Kleger is sent to various places to preach and to settle disputes including: Rapperswil, Frauenthal, St. Gallen, Schwyz, Uznach, St. Gerold.  He is sent to his hometown parish Kaltbrunn in 1691 to do something about an "unfit" priest.  He taught Philosophy at one point in the Theological School at Einsiedeln and also did some service in Pfafers.

He only lived to be 50, dying in 1697, and a tribute was written in the Monastery Journal: 
(this is a translation, so not an exact quote)
     "On 31 December 1679 our pious Father Fridolin Kleger died.  His whole life was pure piety/godliness and holiness.  In all of his responsibilities, he displayed diligence, joy and meekness.  HIs whole life can be called a fast.  At choir, he was the first to come and the last to go, in short, the example of a diligent and true Religionist.  He lay fearless on his death bed, and exhorted the brothers to seek God in all things, to be humble, obedient and agreeable.  We comforted ourselves that we would have a patron saint in heaven."

We have a pious and religious uncle!!!  That should be exciting to you Kleagers who are in the ministry!

Einsiedeln Abbey

Einsiedeln Abbey is a fascinating place, and has quite a history. 

The monastery was founded in the year 934 by a small group of Benedictine monks.  

Nine hundred thirty four, as in 1,079 years ago!

File:Gabriel Bucelin Kloster Einsiedeln 1627.jpg
Einsiedeln Kloster,  drawn in 1627, about 50  years before Fridolin Kleger was there.

(Kloster Einsiedeln, Kt. Schwyz, 1627, aus: W├╝rttembergische Landesbibliothek, HB V 4 fol 201v)
(Thomas J. Stump: Mit Stift und Zirkel. Gabriel Bucelinus, 1599 - 1681, als Zeichner und Kartograph, Architekt und Kunstfreund. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1976, ISBN 3-7995-5026-7)  In public domain because term of life of author plus 100 years has passed. 

The Monastery has a website: that is interesting to poke around.  (If you use the browser "Google Chrome", open "google translate" German to English, then go to the website above, you get a rough translation of the German).

It has many workshops where crafts such as painting, masonry, tailoring, stonemasonry, carpentry, and blacksmithing are practiced.  They have a stable and maintain horses, a large garden and even a book bindery.  The monastery has rights to some forest, and has a sawmill, lumberyard, and a heating system fueled by wood chips!  There is a nursery and gardens that is dedicated to the breeding and care of flowers, herbs and vegetables, and many of the floral decorations in the church come from the gardens.

There is at the Abbey an amazing library and archive ("Stiftsbibliothek Einsiedeln")  that maintains the tradition of "A Thousand Years of Book Culture".  The earliest document they have is a Codex of The Rule of St. Benedict which has been there since the founding in 934.  

Benedictine monks were expected to "pray, work and read", which is why monasteries became centers of the written word.  Einsiedeln also became a center of transcription, and many monks over many years worked in the scriptorium hand copying manuscripts.  That practice was discontinued in the 16th century, but in 1664 a printwork was set up and more than a thousand titles were printed.  

The monastery and it's library were sacked in 1798 by the French and plundered, but lots of items were rescued and taken to a church in Zurich.  When the Abbey was restored in 1803, the rescued items were returned.

 The library now holds 1,230 manuscripts, 1040 volumes of incunabula (books printed between the invention of the printing press and 1501), and about 230,000 books.  

Einsiedeln also has a deep choral tradition of Gregorian chant, musicianship and musical composition.  One of the oldest manuscripts of written music in the world is in the library, along with about 50,000 other pieces of music. 

Kloster Einsiedeln in 1900
It looks different from the first picture because it was re-built between 1704-1719.

(de.wikipedia uploaded by LosHawlos org. source:, in public domain because image made prior to 1923)

Einsiedeln is also a place of pilgrimage.  It is on the route of the Santiago de Compostela for the walking pilgrims which start in Switzerland to head to Spain.  There were annual pilgrimages from Zurich to Einsiedeln on certain feast day. Visits from walking pilgrims peaked in the 18th century, after a slump during the Reformation.  Today there are still 1000's of pilgrims each year, many arriving in large groups on buses.

Einsiedeln Abbey entrance as it looks now.

(Photo by Roland zh)

Currently, Einsiedeln has about 70 brothers in residence who live under the Rule of St. Benedict.  It can be visited anytime, and there are tours given of the archive, library and music library. There are also concerts and regular masses.  The gardens and horses can be visited, and there is a video of monastic life.  Men can go on a spiritual retreat at the monastery one day to a week.

I WANT TO VISIT THIS PLACE!! (hint Becky, David and Carrie).

The "Collegiate School", is a secondary school (day school and boarding school) boys (and now girls). Since 1620 there has been a Theological Seminary for the training of Catholic Priests.  

Our Fridolin Kleger taught in both at one time or another.  There has been a school at the Abbey for 100's of years, and we have yet another relative who attended as a boy, and there is a great story about him.  I'll tell you that in the next post ...

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