Community ID
Alternate Names
ecclesia nostra in Meding
Medieval Location
In the prinicipality of Lüneburg. (See Foundation field)
Modern Location
In the district of Ülzen.
Corporate Status
S. Mary and S. Mauritius, S. Moritz
Date Founded
1228 (circa)
Date Terminated
still extant
Religious Order
Benedictine/Cistercian (see foundation field)
Foundation Information

According to tradition, the convent was founded circa 1228 by a Cistercian lay-brother named John. The first nuns came from the Cistercian convent of Wolmirstedt in the diocese of Magdeburg. There were four: Clementa, Floria, Antonia, and Zacharia (Riggert). In 1234 the convent was established unsuccessfully at Höhbeck; it then moved to the district of Lüchow-Dannenburg, where it found support from a noble widow (Riggert). In 1237 the convent moved to Bohndorf (in the district of Uelzen today). According to tradition, the community moved from place to place for nine years. In 1241 a knight from Meding, Marshal of the Lüneburg dukedom, gave the community permission to settle on the ancestral seat of the family (today Altenmedingen). According to Hoogeweg, he provided them with a vacant location in Alt-Medingen, built a dwelling here and provided the village church, to which the nuns' transferred in 1240 (Hoogeweg, 91). It is unclear whether the community was a family foundation of the knights from Meding (Riggert). In 1323 the community purchased the village of Zellensen from the noble family of Grote (today Medingen bei Bad Bevensen). In 1333 the community moved here with the permission of the bishop and cathedral chapter of Verden (Riggert). The reasons given for the move were: the lack of running water, the lack of wood, a mil, constant noise in the Heerstrasse, and the threat of robbers and arsons! (Riggert). In 1336 it transferred again to its present location, and the church was consecrated in 1337. The convent followed the Benedictine Rule and Cistercian customs, although it was not formally incorporated into the order (Riggert). The community was founded as a priory, but in 1494 it was transformed into an abbey.

First Members

The first nuns came from the Cistercian convent of Wolmirstedt in the diocese of Magdeburg. There were four: Clementa, Floria, Antonia, and Zacharia (Riggert).


The Welf family acted as patrons of the community. The provost Ludolf von Lüneburg, an illegitimate son of Duke Otto, also was a patron of the community (Riggert).

Secular Political Affiliations

The community was connected to the Welf family.

Art & Artifacts

Of all the convents in the Lüneburg region, the most illustrated manuscripts exist from the community of Medingen (see Manuscript sources). These works appear to have been made by the nuns themselves, on the basis of their artistic "naitivity" and internal evidence. The motif of the Arisen Christ appears frequently in the manuscripts, as do images of King David and the Virgin Mary. Most of the illustration consists of decorated initials and borders. The images depicted may have drawn their iconography from personal devotional images and tapestries produced in the region (Uhde-Stahl, 35-37). Most of the manuscripts date from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Among the most beautiful is an illustrated Psalter (Hildesheim Cathedral library Ms. J. 27 (HI3). This is the only manuscript that specifically mentions the date, place, and name of the producer; it was made in 1478 by Elisabeth von Winsen in Medingen, under Provost Tilemann de Bavenstede. Elisabeth both copied and illustrated the work (Uhde-Stahl, 33). An image of Christ appearing to two youths at the sea of Genezareth in Medingener Ms. J. 29 (HI1) apparently drew iconographically from the paintings in the nuns' choir at Wienhausen, displaying a further connection between the two houses. An antependium from the community, created circa 1450, is preserved in the Kestner Museum in Hannover. Medingen Antependium The antependium depicts the crucified Christ, surrounded by Old Testament prophets and the disciples. At the bottom of the antependium are scenes of the nativity and Christ emerging from his sarcophagus. Four large medallions appear on each side of the antependium. The two on the left-hand side depict the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus and the angel Gabriel. A nun climbs the ladder leading up to the crucified Christ. Medingen antependium(detail)

Architecture & Archaeology

The medieval convent buildings burned down and were rebuilt in the classical style. Medingen

Manuscript Sources

The extant illustrated manuscripts are held in Kopenhagen's Königliche Bibliothek (Royal Library) Ms.G.K.S. 3451, MS. Thott. 120. 8 (K2); Hannover's Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek (Lower-Saxon Regional library), Ms. I 75 (HV1), Ms. I 96 (HV2), Ms. I 74 (HV2); Hildesheim Cathedral Library Ms. J. 27 (HI3), Ms. J. 29 (HI1); Hildesheim, Stadtarchive (City archive) Ms. Mus. 379 (HI2); Münster, Staatsarchiv, Altertumsverein Ms. 301 (M); Oxford, Bodleian Library, lat. lit. f. 4 (O); and Hamburg, Staatsbibliothek, Ms. in scrin. 151 b (HB). Among the Medingen manuscripts is a group of Oratios in Latin and Middle low German, which have been grouped and described as the "Tölner" Manuscripts. These consist of : Ms Thott. 120. 8 (Royal Library Kopenhagen), Ms. J. 29 (HI2) (Hildesheim Cathedral library), MS. I 74 (HV2) (Hannover, Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek), Ms. Nr. 301 (M) (Münster, Staatsarchiv, Altertumsverein), and Lat. lit.f.4 (Oxford, Bodleian).

Published Primary Sources
Manuscripts Produced

The entire library of the convent burned in 1781; however, several illustrated manuscripts are still extant. Internal evidence, such as depictions of nuns in Cistercian habits and a reference to a nun (in Manuscript HI3) as scribe and illustrator, indicate that the nuns were active in copying and illustrating manuscripts (Uhde-Stahl, 31).

June Mecham
Contributors Notes

The images of the nuns portrayed in the illustrated manuscripts give some indication of the nuns' habit and how it changed with the reform of 1479. In works dating prior to 1479 the nuns are depicted with a round veil over a crown and with a red cross on the forehead, as in Wienhausen, Cistercian nun with Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim. In works dating to after 1479 the veils are depicted as pointed (Uhde-Stahl, 44-45).

Date Started