Today the library of the Holy Cross Abbey stores two collections of manuscripts thoroughly kept apart, because they differ widely concerning their history and their numbers. We are talking about the collection of the Holy Cross Abbey on the one hand and the one of the former Abbey Neukloster in Wiener Neustadt (since 1881 a Priory of Holy Cross) founded by the Emperor Frederik lll. in 1444. The covers of the codices mainly date from Baroque days.
A considerable number of manuscripts goes back to the days of the foundation of the abbey and most of them were written right here at our abbey.
A collection of books – those brought by the founding monks as well as those written right at Holy Cross – has been testified since the 12th century. Under the first abbot Gottschalk (+ 1147) the library of non-liturgical texts comprised already approximately 70 volumes. A complete breviary in Cistercian manner with simple red and blue initials (Cod.18) and some liturgical fragments (partly with music) have been preserved ever since the early days of the abbey. Among the manuscripts from the 13th and the early 14th centuries we have to put particular emphasis on the codices written by monks from Holy Cross such as Heinrich von Schüttenhofen, Gutolf (He wrote the Historia Annorum in the 13th century and is one of the first philologists in Austria) and Nikolaus of Holy Cross. They are among the most important authors of their time in Austria. When letterpress printing was invented in the 15th century also the contents of the manuscripts changed in the course of the 16th century. The texts of the medieval monastic lecture and studying canon are replaced by notes taken down by the students, above all texts only handed down once. Among these we find miscellaneous texts by various members of the abbey.
The medieval codices preserved in our abbey – notwithstanding losses in later days – give us a complex idea of the way in which trends in theology, pholosophy and literature were followed at our abbey and also when the respective streams were widespread. In this way it is possible to place Holy Cross Abbey within the context of the cultural and scientific life of medieval Austria. The abbey is well conscious of its responsible role byprotecting important cultural property. The manuscripts are being carefully restored – one by one according to the financial means of the abbey. For the time being emphasis is laid on recovering early fragments pasted over with layers of paper.
For scientific purposes the manuscripts can be used after contacting the administrator of the manuscript cabinet.
Order of microfilms should be directed to Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. The online order form can be found on website http://www.hmml.org/research.html.
Medieval lists documenting the books of the library from the 12th and 14th centuries have been published in:
Theodor Gottlieb, Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Österreichs 1: Niederösterreich, Wien 1915. Nachdruck: Aalen 1974.
The catalogues by P. Benedikt Gsell and P. Dr.Severin Grill covering the complete number of manuscripts is still valid.
Benedikt Gsell, Verzeichnis der Handschriften in der Bibliothek des Stiftes Heiligenkreuz, in: Die Handschriftenverzeichnisse der Cistercienser-Stifte…… Xenia Bernardina II/1, Wien 1891, 117-272
Severin M.Grill, Nachtrag zum Handschriftenverzeichnis der Stiftsbibliothek Heiligenkreuz, Sancta Crux Jubiläums-Festausgabe 1936, 62-67.
According to an initiative taken by the abbey Dr.Alois Haidinger and Dr.Franz Lackner (retired members of the Austrian Academy of Science) have been working on a new catalogue for some years. They started with the oldest codices of the manuscripts. Their descriptions can be found on website manuscripta.at (link: Heiligenkreuz Zisterzienserstift)
Dr. Haidinger´s minute scientific work on the codices of the 12th century is available in databank scriptoria.at
The manuscripts in the German language are described in a thesis for the Institute of German at the University of Vienna by Mag. Christina Jackel
Christina Jackel, Katalog der mittelalterlichen deutschen Handschriften des Zisterzienserstifts Heiligenkreuz, Diplomarbeit, Wien 2011, online.
The incunabula of the abbey are available in the databank Inkunabelzensus Österreich of the Austrian National Library -Österreichische Nationalbibliothek