Foundation of a Cluniac Priory

Tradition has it that in 1125 a young man from Soultz, perhaps from the Landgrave family of Hassemberg, or maybe from one of the families of nobles from Waldner de Freundstein, was struck with an incurable illness. He made a vow that if he was cured he would give all he owned to the Virgin. He was taken to Thierenbach where his vow was to be fulfilled. He gave all his possessions with the intention of founding a convent to provide a place of worship for this area. He went off on pilgrimage to the Abbey of Cluny where he became a monk. He eventually convinced the abbot, Peter the Venerable, to stop at Thierenbach on one of his pastoral visits to the region. Peter was struck by the charming site and its flourishing pilgrimage activity, so much so that he decided to put a priory there. A donation from the Count of Egisheim, Uldarich or Ulrich, and numerous offerings from pilgrims meant that two priories could be built, one for male religious and the other for female religious, as well as a church. It was in 1130 that the Bishop of Basle, Berthold of Neuch‚tel, who had jurisdiction over the place, confirmed this foundation which would be under the direct control of the Abbey of Cluny. To help the priory make ends meet, the town of Soultz endowed it in 1135 with property, fields and meadows, and allowed it to profit from 61 patches of forest. There were never more than about ten religious. They had to pay an annual levy of a gold ecu (coin) to Cluny as a sign of their dependence; in exchange for this the residents of Soultz could take part in the prayer and Masses of the monks.

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