S. Jakob auf der Hülben
Community ID
 
4988
 
Alternate Names
 
St. Jacob
 
Town
 
Vienna
 
Diocese
 
Vienna
 
Date Founded
 
1190
 
Date Terminated
 
On November 30, 1782, the Regierung began to consider termination of both Himmelpforte and S. Jakob. The latter convent’s life was officially ended with a decree from 18 September 1783 (Wiedemann 82).
 
Religious Order
 
Augustinian Canonesses. The originally Beguine community made their profession to S. Augustine’s rule near the end of the 13th century (Wiedemann 53). The first official documentation of their order dates from a 1301 visitation by Bishop Wernhard (Wiede
 
Rule
 
Rule of S. Augustine
 
Foundation Information
 

Leopold VI. decided in 1190 to have a chapel built. A holy woman by the name of Anna Khuelberinn founded a small cloister by this chapel (Schimmer 385). The other founding members of the convent were three noble women from the dukedom of Kärnten (Wiedemann 53). As the Mother Superior Susanna explained during the 1544 visitation, the community was first viewed as a “Bürgerhaus,” or community center, for young and widowed women (Wiedemann 53). In other words, it was Beguines that were the first inhabitants of S. Jakob.

A legend is associated with the foundation of the cloister, first detailed in the 1544 visitation documents. As explained by Mother Susanna, Duke Leopold decided on a walk beside the Danube that he wanted to build a chapel, but wasn’t sure where or to whom it should be dedicated. Suddenly he noticed a statue floating in the water beside him that bore a striking resemblance to S. Jakob. Thus, he constructed a chapel in honor of the saint at that location. The sisters loved this tale and owned a likeness of their patron that they believed to be the storied “swimming” statue (Wiedemann 53).

 
Notable Heads
 

Many abbesses of S. Jakob originated from the local nobility (Schimmer 388).

Diemut Padner: first recorded leader of the convent. Mother Superior during the 1301 visitation (Wiedemann 54-55).

Gebolfina is mentioned in documents dated 1349 and 1355 (55).

Anna die Jansinne is mentioned in 1359 documentation granting the mistress and her convent monetary support in exchange for an annual service prayed in memory of Mr. Burchart (55).

Margret: daughter of Austrian Duke Albrecht. Mentioned in 1360 documentation of a gift from the von Jewchingen couple (55).

Christina die Pariserin obtained possession or use of several vineyards in 1370 (56).

The holdings of the convent increased under Margretha die Hainrichin with the gifts of vineyards and money from 1376 through 1396 (57). The oldest known seal used by the cloister also dates from this time.

Dorothea von Gerlos is first mentioned in a document from Easter Sunday of 1404, establishing an annual mass in the cloister church for Mother Kunigunde (57).

Despite the common name, Agnes Scheck did not descend from the noble von Scheck family of the Steyr (58).

Christina II. Zebinger: granted an Anniversarium for Peter Alderman, Viennese citizen

Margaretha III. Gewr: mistress during construction of S. Sigismund altar in the convent church c. 1430 (59)

Elsbeth Schattauer: sold two vineyards in 1436 that had been willed to sister Lucia Sorger by her uncle Peter Weler (59)

Petronilla Poecklin: first appears in Klosterneuburg documents in 1439. Solidified a Verbrüderung in 1440 with the Carmelites of the court of Konrad Mosbach (60). Quite skilled in financial matters – achieved good balance of purchasing/managing properties and saving money (61). During this time, the convent’s confessors were Kaspar Meiselstein and Thomas von Haselbach (62).

In 1481 Crescentia von Zelking led the convent when Master Thomas von Wullerstorf donated some property in exchange for two weekday mass readings (62-63).

Lucia von Trautmannsdorf: first mentioned in 1504 documentation. Formed bartering agreements with the Schottentor convent from 1511 to 1519 (63). Died in 1520 (64).

Elisabeth von Scherffenberg: prioress for only three years before death in 1523.

Margaretha IV. von Losenstein: led cloister through fire, Turkish invasion.

Crescentia II. Sembler: sent petition to King Ferdinand for aide following the 1525 fire and 1527 invasion. Forced to sell some assets in 1530 for convent’s survival. Aided by noblewomen in rebuilding the cloister. Endangered by another Turkish threat, she and her sisters fled to Linz. She died before the women were able to return to their convent (65).

Susanna Sembler: sister of Crescentia II (65). Sold some communal assets to pay for a new roof for the convent. Died in 1545 (66).

Binosa Vogt: Mother Superior during a proposed assimilation of S. Clara (67). Asked secular and religious authorities to transfer women from other convents of the same order to S. Jakob, particularly a teacher (Schulmeisterin). At the time of the 1566 visitation, she was 70 years of age, in her 22nd year of leadership and her 50th year as an Augustinian. She died in 1572 (68).

Dorothea II. von Puchheim: head of the convent 1575-1594. Daughter of Erasmus von Puchheim and Elisabeth von Hoyos (69). In light of building deterioration and waning numbers, Dorothea in January 1586 to unite with the Himmelpforte community. While an official incorporation did not take place, the sisters of S. Jakob did relocate to the Himmelpforte convent, which Dorothea became head of on April 19, 1586 (70). This union did not last long, as S. Jakob became an independent community again c. 1594 (71). Shortly after this decision, Dorothea resigned.

Agnes Hiessler: elected on July 6, 1594 to replace Dorothea. Requested to create a “sister exchange” program with Kirchberg, but denied permission by Bishop Martin (72). Died from injuries sustained in the April 1627 fire.

Regina Frank (1628-1653): Installed by Cardinal Klesel on May 18, 1628

A consortium of nuns led the cloister from 1628 until 1654. These women were Magdalena, Marianna Schroetl, Margaretha and Ursula Widmer (76).

Magdalena Fellner (1654-1671): Installed on September 29, 1654 (76). Died May 1671 (77).

Maria Anna Schredl (1671-1682): Installed on September 8, 1671. Passed away in 1682 (77).

Susanna Constantia von Gurland (1682-1690): Installed on September 2, 1682. Took sisters to Linz for safety during 1683 Turkish invasion. Died in 1690 (77).

Maria Kunigunde Hildebrand (1690-1701): Installed on September 9, 1690. Died September 1, 1701 (77).

Maria Agnes Koepplin von Adlersberg (1701-1714): Installed on December 18, 1701.

Augustina Countess von Puecheim (1714-1722): Matron during the formation of an order of Brothers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Ordenskirche. Died January 1, 1722 (79).

Maria Katharina von Mayerberg (1722-1727): Elected February 26, 1722. Died October 14, 1727 (79).

Antonia Guenther (1727-1746): Installed January 23, 1727 (79). Died October 26, 1746 (80).

Maria Victoria von Landau (1746-1750: Born in 1688; last of the von Landua line. Elected December 19, 1746. Installed January 8, 1747.

Jakobina von Pollheim (1750-1761): Established several annual Masses in memory of patrons (80).

Maria Katharina Neubeck (1761-1783): Elected October 17; installed October 29, 1761. Notable for lavish decoration of the cloister church.

Abbess Maria Theresia v. Hackelburg und Landau oversaw the closing of the cloister in 1783. (Czeike, 192)

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Following the death of her husband Wilhelm, Amelia von Wolfenreuth entered the cloister in 1531, bringing a generous dowry (Wiedemann 65).

Countess Martinitz joined the convent in 1636. (76)

The last living S. Jakob nun, Antonia Schmerl, died on May 25, 1822 (84).

 
Population Counts
 

The visitors of 1544 found 17 sisters living in the convent (66).

In 1557, 21 sisters and young women from the S. Clara convent became part of the S. Jakob community (67).

When Bishop Anton visited in 1560, the convent housed three Chorfrauen, a novice, Dorothea von Puchheim, and a lay sister (68).

A 1566 visitation found five sisters living in the convent (68).

The February 25, 1722 visitation found a population of 48 choir sisters (79).

During the 1731 visitation, the cloister housed 15 lay sisters, 48 choir nuns, and 2 novices (79).

During the April 27, 1750 visitation, the convent was home to 43 choir sisters (80).

 
Incorporated Communities
 

After the death of their Abbess Barbara in 1557, the sisters of S. Clara were incorporated into the S. Jakob convent (67).

 
Dependent Communities
 

S. Jakob experienced such financial and spiritual growth under the leadership of Petronilla Poecklin in the mid-fifteenth century that the Cloister of Mary Magdalena vor dem Schottentor was subordinated to the convent (62).

 
Visitations
 

Documentation dated May 26, 1301 detail ordinances given by Bishop Wernhard of Passau during a visit. Statutes of significance include the establishment of a cloistered existence for the women and the placement of the convent under the guidance of the Provost of Klosterneuburg (Wiedemann 54).

Records from the 1544 visitation indicate that the community at the time consisted of 17 sisters (66).

On May 26, 1554, Bishop Urban, the provost of S. Dorothea, canon Engelhard and imperial advisor Leopold Ofner visited S. Jakob at the request of the emperor (67). In the ten years since the last visitation, the population had dwindled to four lay sisters and seven Chorfrauen.

In 1560 Bishop Anton visited the convent and found the population continuing to decline (68).

Records of the 1566 visitation show that the convent consisted of Mother Binosa, 66-year-old choir sister Flora, and three other aging sisters (68).

The convent’s Official visited on April 15, 1602. He found everything to be in order – the only disciplinary action taken was the introduction of a stricter enforcement of enclosure (73).

On October 7, 1629, S. Jakob was visited by Bishop Anton, vicar Tobias Schwab and Domherr Stephan Zwirschlag. The visitors gave the convent a slew of ordinances to follow, stressing discipline as well as sisterly love and respect. The extent of this affection was somewhat regulated – the women were not to visit each other’s rooms or chatter on the way to or in the choir (75). Sleeping hours were specified, with bedtime set at 7:30 to awake at 5:30 the next morning (76).

Bishop Franz Ferdinand von Rummer visited on April 1, 1710 and was impressed by the sound leadership of Mother Maria (78).

A visitation occurred on November 7, 1714 (79).

The only complaint lodged in the records of the March 10, 1717 visitation concerned the gruff nature of the doorkeeper (Pfoertnerin) (79).

A visitation occurred on February 25, 1722 in connection with the election of Mother Mayerberg (79).

The visitation of April 4, 1724 resulted in a pleasing report of the convent (79).

Due to the increasingly lax leadership of Mother Mayerberg in her final days, the visitation of December 15, 1727 found the need to reinforce adherence to the order (79).

The April 4, 1731 visitation found the convent in a more disciplined state (79).

Further visitions are known from April 15, 1735, April 14, 1739, April 27, 1750, and October 17, 1761.

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

Three noblewomen agreed to leave the convent all of their assets on the condition that the sisters would follow the Augustinian order (Schimmer 385).

By the mid-14th century, S. Jakob celebrated endowed masses for two patrons. Hermann of S. Pölten had a daily mass in his honor; Master Andrea made a mass in the S. Simon- and Judas-Chapel part of his will (Wiedemann 56).

In the early 15th century, a few more benefices developed. Peter Goetz, saddler (Riemermeister) of Vienna, endowed the benefice of the Frauenaltar, which promised the sisters the patronage of the mayor and the counsel of the city. Documentation dated May 21, 1404 lists Mr. Jost Rot as the first chaplain of this benefice (57). Records of the same year name Mr. Thomas as the chaplain of the S. Augustine altar benefice. The rector of S. Jörgen in Attergau, Peter Hechtl donated a vineyard and wine to the benefice as penance (58).

On August 12, 1443, Emperor Friedrich took the convent under his protection (60).

To fulfill the last wishes of Mrs. Elsbeth Pretrer, Viennese citizens Hanns Viereck and Michel Mennesdorfer donated her house to the convent on November 15, 1467. In exchange, four annual weekday masses were established in Elsbeth’s honor (61). Mother Petronilla sold the house and used the income to purchase several vineyards (62).

The chapel of S. Sigmund was constructed through the patronage of Dr. Martin Steinpeis (63).

The citizens of Korneuburg established the benefice of Saints Margareth, Christoph, Sebastian and Florian (63).

 
Assets/Property
 

The convent obtained various good throughout its existence, including vineyards and other properties (Schimmer 387).

The Bishop of Freising gifted the cloister with the use of Puchberg forest c. 1316 (Wiedemann 54).

Records from 1355 describe rights granted to the convent, including the ability to gather wood in Heckenberg (Wiedemann 55).

In February 1443, Father Thomas Hoffmann von Weitra donated a noteworthy vineyard to the sisters. The garden was a free property and was named the Leyten (60).

The sisters purchased a garden on the road “vor dem Stubenthor” on April 7, 1468 (62).

With the passing of General Isolan, father of Sister Isabella, the convent inherited property in Aicha and Biedermannsdorf (76).

Maria Magadelana von Walterskirchen presented a Marian statue to the convent. The figure was placed in the chapel of Mary, where it became a popular object of devotion (78-79).

 
Litigations
 

In 1452 Pope Pius V. instructed the convent to appoint Johann Larga, a clergyman in Olmuetz, to the next available benefice position. (61)

As of 1531, the S. Jakob sisters were permitted to elect members of the general clergy to serve as their ministers and confessors (65).

An imperial document from November 5, 1557 describes the assimilation of the S. Clara sisters into the S. Jakob community (67).

In September 1559, Kaiser Ferdinand appointed Viennese citizen Georg Puerkl as “a father for the ladies of S. Jakob.” Puerkl acted as a sort of administrator to help the convent with its financial difficulties. According to imperial orders, he was also to keep the sisters in line, making sure that they heeded their rule and followed strict enclosure (67).

Bishop Klesel disagreed with Mother Agnes about the burial of Eva von Golvitz on S. Jakob grounds in 1614, and subsequently asked for her resignation. Feeling wrongly accused, Agnes refused, beginning a battle over the issue that raged for thirteen years. The death of the matriarch in a 1627 fire brought an end to the issue (73).

The relatives of Charitas Secunda Zipfer, who entered the convent in 1639, petitioned to gain unlimited access to the land given by Zipfer as her dowry. The matter was settled in favor of S. Jakob on June 6, 1646 (76).

In February 1660 the nuns pleaded for an expansion of their convent building, as it was becoming too small to comfortably accommodate the S. Jakob population (77).

A lawsuit concerning the possession of a tract of land was resolved in 1719. Dorothea von Landau inherited the area of Rothenbach with the passing of her father in 1690. When she entered the convent of S. Jakob in 1705, the possession of the land was handed over to the community. Dorothea’s aunt, Susanna Magdalena, was unhappy with this occurrence and fought for control of the territory. A compromise was created where the convent sold Rothenbach to Susanna (78).

 
Art & Artifacts
 

Many important documents and books associated with the convent were lost in the great fire of April 21, 1627 (73). The convent’s last leader, Maria Katharina Neubeck, took a wooden figure of St Jakob with her when she left the convent; it was held for some time by the Ursulinenkloster, and came to the Dom- and Diocesan museum in 1960. (Czeike, 337)

The seal used by the convent went through several incarnations. The earliest known stamp dates from the late 14th century and is imprinted with the Latin phrase, “S. monasterii ad sanctum Jacobum in wienna” (57). Also featured is a likeness of the patron S. Jakob, carrying a staff and a shell.

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

The last renovation of the church probably took place in 1700. The enclosure of the nuns was protected by a wall to the left of the church (Schimmer 388). A city plan from 1552 describes the Gothic style of the building. The convent building stood free, unconnected to other structures, and was bordered by four square courtyards (Wiedemann 69).
Beginning in 1525, the cloister and church were merely patched following damage, and were quite dilapidated by 1586 (69). By the beginning of January 1586, chunks of the ceiling were falling into the church on a regular basis (69). On January 30th, a royal decree was issued, directing a commission including the Kaiser’s master builder to inspect the church and convent buildings. The men found the structures to be in frightening but repairable shape. Unfortunately, all renovations that resulted from this inspection were undone by a 1590 earthquake (69-70). After receiving enough monetary support to fix the church once more, the building burned to the ground in 1627, never to be rebuilt (70). The church lot was turned into an apartment complex, which has since been razed (84).
The convent building was ultimately handed over to industry, becoming a tobacco and wool storage facility. It later was turned into the “orientalische Akademie,” the oriental academy. Now much of the building is demolished (84).

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

The convent was subject to the wrath of city fires, such as the great fire of 1256 (Schimmer 385).

The night of November 6, 1452 was a frightening time in both the S. Jakob and Viennese histories. A storm of such violent thunder, lightning, and hail occurred that many thought they were amidst the apocalypse. A lightning bolt hit the steeple of S. Jakob, melting the church bells and igniting both church and convent. At least one elderly sister was lost to the fire (Schimmer 386).

Similar to the fate of Himmelpforte convent, S. Jakob lives on through its namesakes: a street (Jakobergaesschen) and a courtyard (Jakoberhof) (Schimmer 384).

In 1720, a statue of the virgin mother, holding the Christ child and a scepter, was placed at the high altar in thanksgiving for the cloister’s survival of the 1713 Viennese plague (Schimmer 387). Unfortunately, the statue has since disappeared (http://www.diekelten.at/st.jakob-Hülben.htm).

Despite orders of confinement during the 1301 visitation, the sisters violated their enclosure with visits to Klosterneuburg in late 1337 (Wiedemann 55).

The convent church served as a final resting place for both the S. Jakob sisters and women of the laity (60).

A fire on July 18, 1525 did significant damage to the cloister church, but the convent itself avoided harm. When the Turkish invaded Vienna two years later, however, all of the S. Jakob buildings were badly marred (64).

A fire broke out in a neighboring house in April 1535. The roof of the S. Jakob convent caught fire and was ruined. Bishop Faber issued a plea to King Ferdinand on May 13 for funds to rebuild the roof. The request was not met, however, forcing the sisters to sell more of their assets. Despite the dire circumstances, the women were able to maintain their school for noble children (66).

 
Contributors
 
Christine Smith and Cynthia J. Cyrus