The Office of Provost
All solemnly professed members of the community belong to the chapter. This is the central body of the community. On the right, Propst Bernhard clothes Dom Michael as a new canon. He receives the sign of his solemn profession: the purple mozzetta. The Dean, other canons and members of the community observe.
By implication there are members of the community who are not members of the chapter. This group is principally composed of the following:
Those preparing for admission to the community as novices.
Those who have been received into the community and clothed with the habit but have not yet taken simple vows.
Those who have taken simple vows but have not yet taken solemn (permanent) vows.
The head of the community is the superior. For the Canons Regular of St. Augustine of the Austrian Congregation, he is called Provost (Propst in German) from the Latin praepositus (“the one who is put forward”). The members of the chapter may elect the provost to serve a term or for life.
A List of the Provosts of Klosterneuburg
Klosterneuburg has had 66 provosts in its history. With the exception of two four year lapses at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, the community has enjoyed stable and continual self-governance for nearly 900 years.
1. Otto I
1114 – 1126
2. Otto II
1126 – 1132
1138: Abbot of Morimond
1138: Bishop of Freising
1132 – 1133
4. Hartmann I of Polling
1133 – 1140
Click here for a biography
5. Marquard I of Polling
1140 – January 11, 1167
6. Rudiger I of Polling
1167 – August 29, 1168 Stepbrother of Gerhoch of Reichersberg and Marquard, he entered the service of the bishop of augsburg in 1124. His zeal for reform later led to his expulsion and he went to Reichersberg. Between 1161 and 1163 he became Dean at Klosterneuburg. Though Bl. Hartmann wished him to succeed him in Neustift, he was unable to take that office. Rather he succeeded his brother as Propst at Klosterneuburg in 1167, where he briefly governed.
Stepbrother of Gerhoch of Reichersberg and Marquard, he entered the service of the bishop of augsburg in 1124. His zeal for reform later led to his expulsion and he went to Reichersberg. Between 1161 and 1163 he became Dean at Klosterneuburg. Though Bl. Hartmann wished him to succeed him in Neustift, he was unable to take that office. Rather he succeeded his brother as Propst at Klosterneuburg in 1167, where he briefly governed.
1168 – November 25, 1185 (resigned)
1185 – August 30, 1192
7b. Wernher (his second term)
1192- July/August 1994
Briefly governing for a second time, he left to become bishop of Gurk, where he died in 1194.
9. Otto III
August 13, 1194 – September 9, 1194
10. Rudolf I
September 1194 – February 12, 1195
11. Dietrich Purger
1195 – 1216 (deposed)
1216 – 1219 (resigned)
1220 – July 21, 1224
14. Marquard II
1224 – 1226 (resigned)
15. Konrad Goltstein of Vienna
1226 – March 12, 1257
16. Nikolaus I
March 18, 1257 – january 4, 1279
January 8, 1279 – August 26, 1291/1293
18. Hadmar the Donkey (or Ass) of Gaaden
1293 – May 26, 1301 (deposed)
19. Rudiger II
May 26, 1301 – March 25, 1306 (resigned)
20. Berthold I
1306 – May 29, 1317
21. Stephen of Sierndorf
May, 1317 – November 24, 1335
However, as a result of his heavy handed management, there was much strife between him and the Chapter. This led to his deposition by a Visitation of the Bishop Albert of Passau in 1323. However, Pope John XXII intervened and reinstated him in 1324, annulling the deposition. It was providential since the great threat to the existence of the community soon struck. A terrible fire broke out in 1330, devastating the church and most of the Stift. It was thanks to Stephen that community withstood this disaster and pressed onward. He died five years later and was buried in the middle of the Stift church.
22. Nikolaus II of Neidhart
November 1335 – September 3, 1336
23. Rudwein von Knappen of Haselbach
September 4, 1336 – October 12/13, 1349
24. Ortolf of Wolkersdorf
October 13, 1349 – April 24, 1371
25. Koloman of Laa
April 25, 1371 – July 24, 1394 (resigned)
26. Peter I Lenhofer
July 24, 1394 – July 17, 1399
27. Bartholomaeus of Pierbaum
July 1399 – July 17, 1409 (resigned)
28. Albert Stöck
1409 – July 28, 1418 (resigned)
29. Georg I Muestinger of Petronell
July 24, 1418 – September 30, 1442
Though not attacked directly during the Hussite Wars (1423-28), the Stift was forced to support financially the war effort and many of its holdings were plundered or damaged. In 1434, he attended the council of Basel for two months.
Georg encouraged and strongly encouraged the scholarly endeavors of the canons, especially with respect to astronomy and cartography. He himself authored several works on astronomy and was in contact with other leading astronomers of his time.
He died in 1442 and was buried in the St. Nicholas chapel.
30. Simon I vom Thurm of Klosterneuburg
October 1, 1442 – july 28, 1451 (resigned)
31. Simon II Heindl
July 28, 1451 – 1465 (resigned)
32. Johannes Hechtl
September 14, 1465 – June 27, 1485
At this time, Vienna was erected as a diocese, though interestingly enough, Klosterneuburg remained under the diocese of Passau until 1729.
33. Jakob I Paperl
July 1, 1485 – August 12, 1509
Under Jakob, the famous “Babenberger Family Tree” was painted and Ladislaus Suntheim wrote his noteworthy history of the Babenberg family.
On February 15, 1506 the Canons translated the relics of St. Leopold. The date was delayed so long due to the schedule of the the Emperor, who wished to be present. The Archbishop of Salzburg presided, while numerous other Prelates were in attendance. This date was for a long time a holiday in Klosterneuburg.
34. Georg II Hausmannstetter
August 14, 1509 – December 3, 1541
35. Wolfgang Hayden of Klosterneuburg
December 30, 1541 – 1551 (resigned)
36. Christoph I Starl of Klosterneuburg
July 7, 1551, April 13, 1558
37. Peter II Hübner
June 1558 – January 8, 1563 (deposed for heresy)
He was a promising choice. Only four years earlier on November 14, 1554 he had been sent away for drunkenness to Wittingau, only to be reinstated in August 1555. His governance of the Stift was a disaster. The report from the Visitation of 1561 summarizes the scandalous state of the house: thirteen canons, six concubines, eight children and a gluttonous consumption of wine. The remonstrations that resulted from the Visitation bore no fruit with Hübner. As a consequence of his sham wedding in the Stift’s church in 1562, he was finally suspended on September 3, 1562. On January 8, 1563 he was excommunicated and removed from office. He left the Stift in July, 1563 and disappeared.
This sad man’s life does however end on a hopeful note as he died between 1593-1595, after a long illness in a house belonging to the Stift in Vienna as a penitent reconciled to God and the Church.
38. Leopold Hintermayr of Hochwang
October 1563 – April 10, 1577
Hintermayr was a Bavarian, born in 1521 in Hochwang. He entered the Stift in 1541. The report of the Visitation of 1563 describes the condition of the the Stift when Hintermayr became Provost: seven canons, seven concubines, three spouses and fourteen children. Wine consumption continued to raise as well. In addition, he faced a financial catastrophe. Choosing between rectifying immorality or insolvency, he chose to deal with the latter, ignoring the dismal state of the religious life. Reform would have to wait until the next Provost.
It was during Hintermayr’s long reign that the last Canonness of St. Mary Magdalene, Apollonia Khatzler, died on March 20, 1568. Hintermayr died while on a visit to St. Dorothea in Vienna on April 10, 1577.
39. Kaspar Christiani of Arendsee
February 28, 1578 – January 15, 1584
40. Balthasar Polzmann of Vienna
March 1584 – June 6, 1596
41. Thomas Rueff of Vienna
July 1600 – November 10, 1612
Thomas Rueff, a Doctor of Philosophy and Law, at different times a professor on the Faculties of Philosophy and Law at the University of Vienna, a Canon of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Dean at Lorch and a member of the Imperial Council, was clothed and installed as Propst on June 28, 1600. While Propst he continued his academic career, becoming Dean of the Law Faculty in 1602 and the Rector of the Univeristy in 1608.
42. Andreas Mosmiller of Landberg
April 1616 – December 1, 1629
Propst Andreas Mosmiller was born in Bavaria on December 1, 1575. He was clothed as a novice on May 25, 1597 and thereupon held a number of positions in the house. He was sent to Stift St. Dorothea in Vienna to serve as their Provost in 1610. When called upon to govern Klosterneuburg in 1616, he continued as as Provost of St. Dorothea for two more years.
During his watch, the medieval dormitorium was renovated through the installation of permanent walls, which replaced older wooden partitions, and the enlargement of the windows. Other buildings were expanded as well. Among the various economic activities of the Stift, the most notable were the underwriting of the newly founded house of Camadolese monks on the Kahlenberg, the acceptance of responsibility for the goverance of the parish of Kühnring and other locations and finally the purchase of Schloß Hagenbrunn and Reinprechtspölla.
43. Bernhard I Enoch Waitz of Salzungen
January 16, 1630 – April 11, 1643
The most important initiative Propst Bernhard undertook was the first phase of the Baroque renovation of the church. This included adding stucco to the interior of the church and the restoraiton of the organ. The project continued until 1645.
In 1635, Bernhard was also given the task of overseeing two canonries in Bohemia, Wittingau and Forbes, both of which had fallen on hard times. Thanks to financial support and personnel from Stift Klosterneuburg, these two near extinct communities were revitalized. By 1663 there were both capable of self-goverance and remained in existence until Emperor Joseph II suppressed them in 1785.
44. Rudolf II Tobias Millner
June 9, 1643 – September 13, 1648
45. Bernhard II Schemdingh of Münster
December 14, 1648 – November 9, 1675
46. Adam I Scharrer of Krems
December 1675 – February 13, 1681
Just two years before his own death in 1679, a deadly plague struck Klosterneuburg and the nearby areas. Several canons died on account of their pastoral care of their people in the face of this catastrophe. The devastation wrought by the plague was extensive, however there remained the consolation of the faith and the hope offered by the Sacraments. For example, future Provost Christoph Matthai gave Last Rites to approximately 1,000 victims, ensuring that they would depart this world with the confidence and hope.
47. Sebastian Mayr of Eberschwang
May 4, 1681 – June 21, 1686
The Ottoman siege of Klosterneuburg began on July 18, 1683 and lasted until September 8, 1683, the Nativity of Our Lady. At this point the entire community has fled to St. Nikola in Passau or Ranshofen except for the young priest, Wilhelm Ignaz Lebsafft and the choral brother, Marzellin Georg Ortner. While Lebsafft carried for the spiritual needs of the town, Ortner organized the defense of the town. Though the city was damaged, the Ottomans were repelled every time they attacked.
When Propst Sebastian and the Chapter returned to the Stift on October 5th, they found Lebsafft dead. Left in a weakened state by his zealous priestly work, he contracted dysentery and died on October 4th. Ortner survived the trial and was honored for his heroic efforts in defense of the Stift and the town.
48. Christoph II Matthaei of Neustadt
October 1686 – January 26, 1706 (resigned)
During his twenty year reign, the Stift continued to buy or receive gifts of property. Moreover, in 1703 the Stift financed the construction of a new town, Neulerchenfeld. This was one of several settlements that Klosterneuburg founded. In 1704 the Stift become home to an enormous (it could hold 860 buckets of wien) and therefore famous barrel.
Propst Matthaei resigned early due to illness and died on December 17, 1707.
49. Jacib II Cini
February 1706 – December 6, 1706
50. Ernst Johanes Perger of Horn
January 1707 – December 24, 1748
This Master of Liberal Arts and Philosophy as well as a Doctor of Theology was born in Horn on December 6, 1667. He was clothed as a novice on the Feast of the Assumption, 1685, professed on the Epiphany in 1687 and offered his first Mass on October 5, 1692, the same day as the previous provost, Jakob Cini. Prior to becoming Propst he was the Dean from 1699-1707. As Provost, he likewise held the position of Dean at the Faculty of Theology at the University in Vienna in 1709 and a year later became Rector Magnificus of the University itself. He was the first Provost to bear the title Lateran Abbot since it was he who in 1739 confederated the Stift with the most venerable of the Canonical Congregations, the Lateran Canons.
The achievements of his reign are numerous. In 1714 Johann Baptist Känischbauer gave the Canons the exquisite Monstrance of the Legend of the Veil to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the foundation of Stift Klosterneuburg. Propst Ernest also took this festivities surrounding the anniversary of the consecration of the church on the feast of St. Michael to suppress the traditional canonical habit of a white linen cassock and surplice and introduce the black woolen cassock and a sleeveless bell-shaped linen shirt, the sarozium. On Sundays and feast days the Canons wore rochetts in choir. It should be noted that while the Canons wore the new version of the habit, the novices retained the white linen cassock and surplice until 1772.
In addition to the reform of the Canonical habit, Propst Ernest also decided to discontinue the practice of clothing choir brothers (Chorfrater). The last choir brother, Laurenz Jakob Kraus, died on January 18, 1733. There have been, as is true today, choir brothers since, but their cases were extraordinary.
Propst Ernest also completed the third stage of the Baroque renovation of the church (1723-30). New hand carved choir stalls were added in 1723-24 and a new marble high altar was installed in 1726-28. In 1729 Donate Felice rearranged the Presbyterium and the windows were likewise remodeled. Also in 1729 the Stift took delivery of the so-called Leopoldiornat, a heavy gold and silk pontifical set of vestments still used on the feast of St. Leopold to this day.
Meanwhile the Refectory was likewise renovated (1725-28). New art was added as well as a chancel for the table readings. A monastic seating order was likewise retained (this was later suppressed by Propst Ambros Lorenz).
Besides the church, the entire Stift was slated for an entirely new plan according to the wishes of Emperor Karl VI, who wished for an Austrian Escorial. He employed Felice as the architect and a grandiose plan was drawn up. The first stone was laid by the Stift’s Chamberlain, Ambros Schmid, on April 30, 1730 and a liturgical cornerstone laying ceremony was celebrated on May 25th by the Propst. The Emperor lived only long enough to enjoy one meal at his not yet completed imperial residence at the Stift on the Feast of St. Leopold, 1739.
Also during 1739, Stift Klosterneuburg confederated with the Lateran Congregation. The Stift was given the rights and privileges of the Lateran Congregation and in thanksgiving offered every three year a solemn celebration of the Assumption of Our Lady for the growth and well-being of the Lateran Congregation. The Provost henceforth bore the title “Lateran Abbot” and the canons, “Lateran Canons.” As well, the Stift was entitled to full exemption through this aggregation. However, it seems that in reality, neither the members of community nor the Bishops were aware of this union. Therefore the Stift in practice remained under the governance of the Bishop.
Propst Ernest’s long four year reigned ended on Christmas Eve, 1748, when he died.
51. Berthold II Johannes Paul Staudinger
February 1749 – March 16, 1766
Besides governing the community, Propst Berthold also played role in the goverance of Lower Austria and from 1753 onward he was named adminstrator of Stift St. Pölten. He oversaw the construction of a Stift residence in Vienna and various acquisitions including vineyards in Nußdorf, Heiligenstadt, Kahlenbergerdorf and Klosterneuburg.
At the behest of Empress Maria Theresia, Propst Berthold accepted the mandate to assist in the rural missions in Upper Austria, Carinthia and Styria. He sent Canon and Master of Philosophy Wilhelm Sebastian Hätzl, who during his three year mission (1753-56) met with great success. Where others failed earlier, he brought many Protestants back into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Propst Berthold died on March 16, 1766 in Vienna
52. Gottfired Johannes von Roleman
May 1766 – March 8, 1772
His most important contribution to the Stift was the foundation of the Stift’s own theological faculty in 1768. It began humbly with two Canons as professors, one teaching speculative theology, the other practical theology. However, the promise of this faculty would not be realize until the 19th Century since Emperor Joseph II closed all theology faculties except for imperial faculties in 1783.
53. Ambris Ignaz Lorenz of Vienna
May 1772 – November 8, 1781
It was Propst Ambros who relocated the Stift’s library from the Altstift (old Stift) to the northern and eastern tracts of the Neustift (new Stift) and he himself took possession of a new apartment in the Neustift for the use of the provost in 1775. The following year witnessed the last time that the Imperial Household attended the festivities for St. Leopold.
In 1778 the Stift reformed its junior Latin school, which dates to the 15th Century, into a proper secondary school. The Stift pastor served as the principal. The Stift operated the school for almost 125 years before it was finally closed in 1921 due to financial difficulties. The building was taken over by a public school.
Propst Ambros during 1780-81 also replaced the wooden tabernacle with a new silver one in the church and a new 16 pipe organ was constructed for the southerly gallery. He died in 1781.
54. Floridus Johannes Leeb of Nikolsburg
February 16, 1782 – August 13, 1799
Elected in 1782, he governed the community during perilous times. Not since the Protestant Reformation had the Canonical Life been so threatened. Ironically this danger came from the same institution has restored the Canonical Life to the Stift after its self-destruction under the influence of Lutheranism: the Emperor. The new Emperor, Joseph II, was very different from his mother, Empress Maria Theresia. His ecclesiastical policies were worldly and utilitarian in their ends. For this reason, all forms of religious life in the Austrian Empire lived with the threat of extinction.
In April, 1782, Pope Pius VI took the unusual step of traveling to Austria to remonstrate with the Emperor. During his visit, on April 20th, the Holy Father visited the Stift. His efforts to forestall the Emperor’s designs were unsuccessful. On November 11, 1782 Stift St. Dorothea in Vienna was merged with Klosterneuburg, making Propst Floridus administrator of the Viennese canonry. Just four years later Emperor Joseph II suppressed Stift St. Dorothea altogether.
In 1783, Emperor Joseph II decreed that all priestly formation would be given exclusively in imperial seminaries. All other faculties of theology were closed including the school at Klosterneuburg. The threat of Josephinism, as the Emperor’s policies are called, was very real. Many religious houses were suppressed and others were made more “useful” by imposing various “practical” activities on them. During those years, Stift Klosterneuburg, for its trouble, had several more parishes imposed on it. While this was not as detrimental to the Canonical Life as it is to other forms of religious life, it certainly burdened the community.
If there was a spiritual need for these parishes, their construction would be a positive development. However the Emperor’s plan was less concerned with the spiritual health of his subjects, but with the usefulness of the church as an arm of civil administration. The affects of this bureaucratization of pastoral life in the Austrian Empire was not without negative consequences.
In 1786 the Stift financed the construction of a new settlement of thirty houses on the east bank of the Danube, which thereafter was named Floridsdorf, after the Provost. The Stift also assisted the families to rebuild their homes after extensive flooding in 1787. Also in 1786 the Stift purchased the complex on the Leopoldsberg and its surrounding woods and enacted a program of land reform. In 1787 the Stift opened a bakery, which endured until 1814.
Emperor Joseph II died and was succeeded by Emperor Leopold II, who upon the death of the last provost of the canonry of St. Pölten in 1791 appointed Propst Floridus and his successors as the dignity of the Head Chaplain of the Ancestral Lands of Austria (Oberst Erblandhofkaplan von Österreich). In 1796 the Provost requested and receive permission to re-establish the school of theology at Klosterneuburg. On January 3, 1797 classes began again, covering the first two years of studies. Subsequently this modest program grew into a complete theological education.
Propst Leeb died on August 13, 1799.
55. Gaudenz Andreas Dunkler of Piesling
March 1800 – November 29, 1829
Ordained a priest in 1771, he served as a confessor at the pilgrim church in Hietzing, Novice Master (1770-1800), Librarian (1795-1800), Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Vienna (1795) before his election as Provost in 1800. A Doctor of Theology, his strong interest in education led him to double the two year program at the Stift school of theology to four years in 1801. The next year he was chosen to be the Rector magnificus at the University of Vienna.
Also in 1802, an imperial decree settled the question of the ownership of the wealth of the suppressed Stift St. Dorothea. Klosterneuburg at this time came into possession of the Albrecht Altar, which now stands in the St. Sebastian Chapel. Its importance lies in the fact that one of its panels possesses the oldest representation of Vienna. The next year Klosterneuburg took possession of the Dorotheerhof on the Plankengasse in Vienna.
Twice during the Napoleonic Wars (1805-6 and 1809) was the Stift occupied by French troops. The occupation led to a dispersion of the Canons and cost great sums of money. However this did not prevent the Canons for carrying on their work. In fact in 1806, produced at the expense of the Stift, a new four volume Hebrew edition of the Old Testament under the direction of Dr. Johannes Jahn and with the assistance of four of the Canons.
A second French occupation of the Stift took place in 1809.
56. Jakob III Ruttenstock of Vienna
June 8, 1830, June 22, 1844
In the Stift numerous renovations were undertaken. The painting of the Nativity of Our Lady was placed above the High Altar, where is hangs to this day; the Verdun Altar was relocated to its present place in the old Chapter House, which had already become the St. Leopold’s Chapel, where pilgrims by the thousand venerated the relics of the Holy Margrave; and the construction of the New Stift was finally brought to its completion. The latter dramatically changes the life for the canons since it brought with it a new refectory, a new library and new living quarters.
Outside, the Stift’s garden was lay out in the English manner and a crypt for the Canons was built in the city cemetery, where Ruttenstock would buried. The Stift also took over the parish in Jedlesee and Strebesdorf and paid for the contruction of a new church in Meidling dedicated to St. John Nepomuk.
57. Wilhelm Ludwig Sedlaczeck
Oktober 16, 1844 – June 20, 1853
Propst Wilhelm commissioned a new chapel to accompany the new crypt for the deceased Canons in 1846 and built a new building for the Stift’s school in 1852. That same year the Stift bought the ruined Cistercian abbey of Horn, whose chapter house and a portion of the cloister remained intact and were transferred to the Stift.
58. Adam III Schreck of Vienna
October 12, 1853 – March 29, 1871
59. Berthold III Ignaz Froeschl of Weinsteig
August 4, 1871 – August 17, 1882
60. Ubald Ewald Kostersitz of Vienna
November 22, 1882 – October 2, 1902
61. Bernhard III Johannes Peitl
January 8, 1903 – October 6, 1906
62. Friedrich Gustav Piffl of Landskron
January 9, 1907 – April 1, 1913
63. Joseph Eduard Kluger of Reitendorf
June 18, 1913 – November 9, 1937
64. Alipius Joseph Linda of Vienna
November 25, 1937 – April 29, 1953
65. Gebhard Ferdinand Koberger of Vienna
October 20, 1953 – November 18, 1995 (resigned)
1968 – 1974: Abbot Primate
66. Bernhard IV Hermann Backovsky
December 14, 1995 – ad multos annos