THE famous Scots monastery in Vienna established by Irishmen, has celebrated the 800th anniversary of its foundation with Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Archbishop Koenig, now named a Cardinal.
Other ceremonies commemorating the event included the formal reading of a decree issued by Pope Pius XII raising the abbey's church to the rank of minor basilica.
The history of the monastery dates back to the year 1158 when the first duke of Austria, Henry of Babenberg, son of St. Leopold, called upon Irish Benedictine monks who had settled in Bavaria to establish an abbey in Vienna.
The monks were to devote their efforts chiefly to the care of sick or wounded crusaders who passed through Vienna on their way to or from the Holy Land.
At that time all Celts were regarded as Scottish and the newly arrived monks, although Irish, were called "Scots." To this day the abbey is still known under this name although the last Irish Benedictines left Vienna and were replaced by Austrian members of the order more than 500 years ago.
At the beginning of the 15th century. when there were no more crusaders to look after, the monastery became a centre of learning. The "Scots" maintained close contact with the University of Vienna. founded in 1365, and provided it with many famous professors.