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The Gauenstein Cloister

by Theresa König last modified 2007-01-09 21:17

You are at the Gauenstein Cloister.

The Gauenstein Cloister is one of the most beautiful Capuchin dwellings in Vorarlberg. The current building with its garden lies just above the valley floor in the middle of a forest. Since the beginning of the 18th century this place has been used as a hermitage with only one or two Forest Brothers living here at a time.  In the year 1701, Brother Kaspar Ubanizi from the 3rd order of St. Francis, came to the Montafon and built a hermitage up here.  Later he moved away but had a successor.  In 1709 the hermitage was renovated and a chapel was added.

The most famous hermit that lived here was Brother Dismas.  He built his own cell and also started a garden.  The tiny church was consecrated on July 25th, 1721 by the arch bishop from Chur in honour of Mary, mother of God.  Brother Dismas left the hermitage together with the church to the Capuchin Monks but the last of them died in 1821.

The township of Schruns gained ownership of the hermitage and sold it to the siblings Johann Fidel and Maria Anna Tschol.  Maria Anna died and later Johann got married.  The marriage was childless and in the end, Gauenstein was left to the Capuchin monks once again.

As soon as this cloister was built, the Capuchin monks grabbed their spades, picks and shovels and built a street. Up until the year 1840, there was only a little used path that led to the high reaches of the Kalverienberg (the name for the higher parts of Schruns in olden times).

Before the Capuchin monks came, hermits lived on this secluded spot of land.  Afterwards, during the reign of Brother Josef in 1789 this land was used for profane purposes. In 1844, through the efforts and money of Johann Tschol from Schruns, the cloister was built and the Brothers moved in.  The old chapel was almost completely torn down and replaced by a new one.  On June 14th, 1851 the church was consecrated by the Bishop from Brixen, Georg Prünster in honour of Mary, mother of Jesus.  In 1929 an extension was added and in 1995 / 96 the church was renovated. At the moment there is always one Capuchin lay brother here.

The chapel and the beautiful garden are open to the public and you are free to look around. 

To the south we can see the Tschaggunser Mittagspitze or Midday Peak, under which lies Ziegerberg and to the left, Bitschweil.  The oldest standing Rheatian-Romanian house in Vorarlberg can be found in Tschagguns.  The "Sandrell House" has been preserved and lovingly restored.  It was built in the year 1457, just a few years after Christopher Columbus was born.  It is also one of the few painted houses in Montafon of which only 10 remain.  The oldest painted decoration is from the 16th century.

Let's go on in the direction of Landschrofen-Kaltenbrunnen through the Gaueser Forest.


P05-1 Gauenstein Cloister.mp3

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