St. Florian Monastery (Stift Sankt Florian) is an Augustinian monastery in the town of Sankt Florian, Austria. Founded in the early ninth century, and later refounded by Augustinians in the eleventh century, St. Florian is the largest monastery in Upper Austria, and is one of the most impressive examples of Baroque architecture in Austria. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Florian whose fourth century grave lies beneath the monastery.
The monastery was founded in the Carolingian period. Since 1071 making it one of the oldest operational monasteries in the world following the Rule of St. Augustine.
Between 1686 and 1708 the monastery complex was reconstructed in Baroque style by Carlo Antonio Carlone, whose masterpiece is St. Florian’s. After his death, Jakob Prandtauer continued the work. The result is the biggest Baroque monastery in Upper Austria. Bartolomeo Altomonte created the frescoes.
Construction of the library wing began in 1744, under Johann Gotthard Hayberger. The library comprises about 130,000 items, including many manuscripts. The gallery contains numerous works of the 16th and 17th centuries, but also some late medieval works of the Danube School, particularly by Albrecht Altdorfer.
In 1827, Polish librarian Father Josef Chmel found one of the oldest Polish literary artifacts, an illuminated manuscript containing the Psalms in Latin, German and Polish in the monastery. Because of the site of discovery, it has been named the Sankt Florian Psalter, and now resides in the National Library of Poland.
In January 1941, the Gestapo seized the facility and expelled the monks. From 1942, the Reichsrundfunkgesellschaft (“Radio Society of the Third Reich”), under general director Heinrich Glasmeier, operated from here. The canons returned after the end of the war.
The premises now also house the Upper Austrian Fire Brigade Museum.
The canons’ church was elevated to a basilica minor in 1999. It is dedicated to Saint Florian and Saint Augustine.
St. Florian’s Priory possesses two organs, the larger one of which is known as the “Bruckner organ” (Brucknerorgel) and contains four manuals, 103 stops and 7,343 pipes. It was played by composer and organist Anton Bruckner, previously a choir boy at the monastery, when he was the organist, between 1848 and 1855. He is buried beneath the organ inside the church.