Community ID
Alternate Names
Coeli Porta
Medieval Location
Himmelstadt by Karlstadt; then moved to Schottenau by Würzburg.
Modern Location
Würzburg; in the governmental district of Unterfanken.
S. Mary; S. John the Evangelist; (today S. Nicholas)
Date Founded
Date Terminated
1804, May 5
Religious Order
Foundation Information

This Cistercian convent was founded by Hermann von Lobdeburg, bishop of Würzburg in 1231. The convent was established initially in Himmelstadt near Karlstadt on the left bank of the Main river and received the name "Coeli porta". The bishop retained the secular rights of patronage as well as the spiritual episcopal rights over the foundation, despite Cistercian proscriptions. He also ensured that the convent had a freedom from advocacy (Krausen, 55). In 1231 the convent was formally assumed within the Cistercian order and placed under the authority of the abbot of Ebrach. There was a constant dispute between the bishops of Würzburg and the abbots of Ebrach over visitation rights, investiture and benediction of the abbesses. Most of the convent's father confessors came from the monastery of Ebrach, among them the Chronicler P. Joseph Agricola, who died in Himmelspforten in 1680. In 1251 the convent was moved to Schottenau near Würzburg with the permission of the pope, due to its previous unfavorable location.

First Members

The first abbess was Gertrud, a sister of the founder.


There are no known visitations for this convent.


Friederich of Truhendingen acted as a patron of the community.

Social Characteristics

In addition to daughters of the regional nobility (from the families of Rieneck, Grumbach, and Heidingsfeld), early on Himmelspforten also admitted women from the local bourgeoisie. In 1352 the first non-noble abbess appears, Abbess Elisabeth IV Silberlin. Lay-sisters formed part of the community since the sixteenth century.


The increasing expansion of the convent's possessions encouraged the leasing of goods in place of the original self-sufficient state of the convent and led eventually to disputes (Krausen, 55).

Architecture & Archaeology

With the move to Schottenau near Würzburg, a new church was built in the "typical" style for Cistercian women's houses, i.e. with one nave, two stories, and a choir bordering the main nave. The church was consecrated in 1276. A cloister with grave memorials dates from the fourteenth century (Krausen, 55). According to Link, the cloister was completed circa 1300, and money for the construction was raised through collections and the sale of indulgences (Link, 661).

State Of Medieval Structure

The medieval church is still extant, although it was renovated in the Renaissance style by Abbess Katharina IV. Seubott (1592/1630).

Manuscript Sources

The archives for the community are located in the Hauptstaatsarchiv in München (Munich) and in the Stadtarchiv in Würzburg as well as in the Julius-hospital archives in Würzburg.

Secondary Sources

HUEMER, B. Verzeichnis der deutschen Cisterzienserinnenkloester. (StMBO, 37, 1916).
Klosterbuch der Diocese Wurzburg.
Die Klöster des Zisterzienserordens in Bayern

Miscellaneous Information

In 1297 the bishop and cathedral chapter placed Würzburg under interdict, when the city refused to acknowledge the convent's economic freedoms granted through papal privileges. Along with other female convents, Himmelspforten received a great privilege for protection from King Karl IV in 1360 (Krausen, 55). Abbess Sophie von Grumbach (d. 1526) built a new abbey. In 1847 the cloister was acquired and reinhabited by members of the Reformed Carmelite order.

Admin. Notes

more research necessary Hist. Staetten, 279. Link refers to the convent as originally a Bernardinerinenkloster (Cistercian?).

June Mecham
Date Started
Date Finished