January 24th 1863 - Jesuits in Maria Laach
The Benedictine Abbey Maria ad Lacum was founded in the year 1093. The pillared basilica with three naves is an outstanding evidence of Romanesque architecture. It was consecratad in 1156.
In the year 1802 the abbey was dissolved by the French government. The church became government property until 1924. On January 24th 1863 the Jesuits bought Maria Laach to establish there a Collegium Maximum. Already four days later they moved into the just purchased monastery. At the beginning of May 1863 the young students of philosophy came from Aachen. Father Provincial Antonius Anderledy went a stretch of the way to meet them. In September the theologians came from Paderborn. According to the catalogue from October 1st 1863 41 Fathers, 111 Scholastics (students) and 25 Brothers lived in Maria Laach. You have to add still the fourteen Jesuits who belonged to the residence on the Kreuzberg (Cross Mountain) near Bonn. Most of them studied at the university in Bonn. They were attached to Maria Laach.
From 1863 to 1870 also the provincialate of the German Province was in Maria Laach. Soon the college got an international atmosphere. Because of the church-political tensions in Italy came 23 Italians, 5 Spaniards and 6 Frenchmen to study in Maria Laach.
During the few years in the Collegium Lacense the Jesuits achieved a lot by their pastoral and publishing activities, and by the enlargement of the buildings. In 1870 was created the periodical 'Stimmen von Maria Laach'.
Pisciculture, a brewery and a mansion beyond the lake on the eastern bank enriched the life. Also the beginnings of the sea-hotel were motivated by the Fathers, and a statue of Our Lady on the island in the lake. In 1865 a vault was built under the St Joseph Chapel where fourteen members of the Order rest.
Beside the study house the college became increasingly important also as a centre for pastoral. The more bitter was the 'Jesuitengesetz' (Jesuits Law) from July 5th 1872, by which in Germany all the works of the Society of Jesus were forbidden and the Jesuits expelled from the country.
The abolition of the Jesuitengesetz and thus the return home from exile took place in the year 1917 during World War I.
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