1184 - 1802

Following the promotion to an abbey in 1184, Steinfeld Monastery had time to develop and to get on a sound economic footing for many peaceful decades. According to the mission of the Founder, the Steinfeld Canons took over pastoral work throughout the region. Steinfeld soon became archdeaconry with the places Steinfeld, Kall, Krekel, Reifferscheid Ripsdorf and Sistig, probably also Harperscheid, Hellenthal, Schleiden and Wildenburg. In addition, the Steinfeld Norbertines exercised pastoral works in many parishes of an area that extends from St. Dionysius in Krefeld to Wehr near Laach, and to the Nahe River in the south.

The later St. Hermann Josef is accepted to the convent by provost Ulrich and studied in Mariengarten. Until his death he is Canon in Steinfeld. His devoteness and his mystical charisma are so overwhelming for his contemporaries that immediately after his death (about 1241), a seemingly endless worship began. Sure a life has contributed, which a friar composed from own knowledge shortly after his death.

The abbey was well established, but war and unrest followed in the 14th Century. Also inside the monastery, it was not like you could want. Crop failures and famine became a plague in this region. The Steinfeld canons were forced to sell some property to survive. Furthermore there were the terrible effects of the plague, which did not stop at the gates of the monastery. Six abbots resided within 47 years.

The Steinfeld Canons also entered into the conflict between the legitimate Pope Urban VI. and the anti-pope Clement VII. Steinfeld was entirely on the side of the rightful pope. Thus, the Bretons attacked the monastery, put the church on fire, and tore down the walls. Abbot Gottfried Bongenberg (1381-1388) was kidnapped and assassinated.

After these terrible events, the following abbots together with the community built up Steinfeld Monastery again and made it to a particular religious and spiritual center of the northern Eifel again. But even some of the confreres thought the reforms too strict. So the abbot Jacob I. (1412-1416) is said to have been murdered at the hands of two of his own brothers. However, his successors continued the work of reform and so Steinfeld became in its period of boom to one of the most important monasteries in Germany.

Also, the conflicts during the Reformation and the Thirty Years War did not leave Steinfeld uneffected. Nevertheless Steinfeld was a place of theology for centuries. Abbot Christopher Pilkmann from Bonn (1606-1630) founded the Collegium Norbertinum for monasteries of the Rhenish-Westphalian circary in Cologne. Abbots of Steinfeld became Rector of the University of Cologne for several times.

Also in Steinfeld, the importance can be seen. Especially in the years of the abbot Evermodus Claessen from Gangelt (1767-1784) Steinfeld was restored, architecturally renovated and expanded. Under this abbot the monastery complex got its present form with the 1.6 km long wall and the main gate that receives visitors, hikers, and pilgrims with wide open gates.

But as soon as everything was completed, a Napoleonic decree stopped all monastic life in a violent way in 1802. The canons were expelled, the last Abbot Gilbert Surges (1790-1802) became the first parish preast of Steinfeld. The monastery church became and St. Andrew’s, the older (Parish) Church was demolished. The precious shrine of St. Potentine was brought to Paris (now in the Louvre), the library is wasted or burned, and the estate was parceled and also wasted. The abbey itself was being auctioned and came into the possession of the Prussian state later.