Benedictines (OSB = Ordo Sancti Benedicti), a Catholic order founded in the 6th century by St. Benedict of Nursia. The first Benedictine houses in Austria were founded from the 7th to the 10th centuries. They were for the main part responsible for clearing and cultivating the land, and converting the population to Christianity. Their work was destroyed by incursions of the Magyars in the 10th century. This was followed by a flourishing of the order in the period 1060-1230, when most of the Austrian monasteries were founded. 13 of the monasteries originating in the 12th century still exist today. The Melk Reform in the 15th century revigorated the Benedictine spirit in Austrian abbeys. The Benedictine order flourished in Austria in the Baroque era of the 17th and 18th centuries. The country's most prominent artists were employed for the construction of what have been called palace monasteries, which were centres of knowledge and the arts, of Baroque theatre and religious drama. One renowned institution was the Benedictine University in Salzburg (1623-1810). The most prevalent activities of the modern order are the ministry, education and research. Most Benedictine abbeys own and run secondary schools and other educational facilities. The Austrian congregation was founded in 1930, but this did not end the autonomy of the individual abbeys.
Austrian Benedictine houses, in order of their year of foundation: Sankt Peter, city of Salzburg (approx. 700); Kremsmuenster, province of Upper Austria (777); Michaelbeuern, province of Salzburg (approx. 785); Sankt Gerold (priorate of Einsiedeln, Switzerland), province of Vorarlberg (approx. 1000); Lambach, province of Upper Austria (1056); Admont, province of Styria (1074); Melk, province of Lower Austria (1089); Sankt Paul im Lavanttal, province of Carinthia (1093); Goettweig, province of Lower Austria (1094), Sankt Lambrecht, Styria (1096), Seitenstetten, province of Lower Austria (1112); Sankt Georgenberg-Fiecht, province of Tirol (1138); Altenburg, province of Lower Austria (1144); Schotten, Vienna (1155); Seckau, province of Styria (1883); Mariazell, province of Styria (1956).
Benedictine nuns formerly had 14 convents in Austria, of which only the one at Nonnberg Mountain in the province of Salzburg remains. In 1918, a new abbey (St. Gabriel) was founded by Benedictine nuns in Bertholdstein (province of Styria).
Literature#M. Heimbucher, Die Orden und Kongregationen der katholischen Kirche, vol. 1, 1933; Benediktin. Moenchtum in Oesterreich, 1949.