1810: The abbey in Müstair becomes a priory

Augustina Wolf, last abbess of St. John's convent in Müstair

Augustina Wolf, who came from Algund (South Tyrol) died on 7th April 1810; she was the convent’s last abbess. As the youngest canoness she was elected abbess in 1806, but only presided over the convent for 3 years and 4 months. Her abbess’s crosier is on show in the convent museum.

Threat of dissolution

Following the death of Augustina Wolf the Corpus Catholicum of canton Grisons wanted the dissolution of the convent. The election of a new abbess and enrolment of novices were temporarily suspended. However, the last prince-bishop of Chur, Karl Rudolf von Buol-Schauenstein, and the commune of Müstair supported the convent, not least for its religious and economic importance. The convent’s existence was therefore saved, but there has until this day no longer been an abbess to lead the convent.

A priory instead of an abbey

Seraphina Albrecht, from Brixen (South Tyrol) took over the priory in 1810. Since then there have been 25 prioresses. In 1824 the Corpus Catholicum once again expressed the wish to the cantonal parliament to dissolve the convent of St. John the Baptist in Müstair. Yet again the bishop of Chur and the commune of Müstair stood behind the convent.

In 1828 the cantonal parliament decided that the convent should be under the supervision of an administrator, who would examine its finances each year. Every new intake should be approved by the government. Postulants from canton Grisons paid an admission fee of 1,500 gulden, Swiss citizens from outside the county 2,000 gulden and non-Swiss citizens 4,000 gulden. Many of the convent’s nuns came from neighbouring South Tyrol; this measure made their admission to the convent more difficult. By 1832, however, there was already an increase in numbers; in 1955 there were 31 Benedictine nuns in the convent. Currently (2014), there are 9 and one ancillary nun from the Philippines.