The life of the priory up to the Revolution

The nuns’ priory quickly disappeared off the scene. But the monks’ priory flourished as a result of being situated on the St James of Compostela pilgrimage route. The people of Soultz organised the first votive procession in 1138, followed by other cities such as Rouffach in 1142…From this period onwards Thierenbach is mentioned under the following titles: Dirembach, Dierenbach, Thyerenbach, Thierbach…Until the 19th century people used to venerate the Mother of God carrying her child in her arms. But following various calamities and disasters pilgrims began imploring Our Lady of Sorrows, the Pietà holding her dead Son in her lap.

So the priory weathered all the events of its history: a fire in 1276 – pillage by the rebel peasants from Rouffach in 1525, followed by restoration and addition of Gothic elements to the original Roman church – spiritual decline, delapidation of the buildings with the turret threatening to collapse – destruction in 1640 during the Thirty Years’ War, with monks fleeing to the Saint-Mont monastery near Remirement where their labours were destroyed in a fire. Only one monk stayed in the place to look after the estate and celebrate Mass. Upon its return in 1690 the community found nothing but fallow land and ruined buildings which would be repaired only to collapse later due to violent and inclement weather when Dom Chassignet was prior.

By a royal ordinance of 1692, confirmed by the regional authority of the Soveriegn Council of Alsace in 1696, the priory was restored to the Cluny Order through the intervention of the Bishop of Basle. In effect it was a question of incorporating it with another monastery. It was raised from its ruins by the prior, Antoine Devilliers, from 1698 to 1715 thanks to a number of benefactors. As for the original church, this was demolished in 1700. A new building would be erected by the famous Vorarlberg architect, Peter Thumb, in the baroque style, finished in 1723 and consecrated in 1731 by Jean-Baptiste Haus, the auxiliary bishop of Basle. Henceforth the pilgrimage site was to benefit from a new rapid expansion as a result of a growing number of pilgrims and the exemplary religious life of the monks who dedicated themselves to prayer and study.

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