who are or were monks of the
Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien,
i.e. Missionary Benedictines

Bishops (A - Z): Ammann | Bilgeri | Bitterli | Breher | Dammertz | Fleschutz | Hälg | Hartmann | Kimmel | Ri | Sauer | Schall | Spiess | Spiß | Spreiter | Steiger

Countries / Dioceses / Bishops

Apostolic Proprefect Father Bonifatius (Magnus) Fleschutz O.S.B.

  • born on 9 January 1861 at Reicholzried, Diocese of Augsburg / Germany

  • ordained priest on 3 May 1886

  • nominated Apostolic Proprefect of the  on 18 November 1887

  • monastic profession at Rome (as monk of St. Ottilien) on 20 November 1887

  • assigned as missionary on 28 November 1887 to Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

  • died from Malaria on 29 January 1891 at Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

  • buried in Dar es Salaam in the cemetery of Msimbazi Parish

Father Maurus (Franz Xaver) Hartmann O.S.B.
  • born on 21 November 1865 at Wald, Diocese of Augsburg
  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 21 March 1889
  • ordained priest on 02 August 1890
  • assignment as missionary on 26 May 1894 to Dar es Salaam / Tanzania
  • 2nd Prefect Apostolic of  the Apostolic Prefecture of South Zanzibar from 01 July 1894 to 15 September 1902
  • died on 20 August 1905 at Madibira / Tanzania
  • buried in Madibira / Tanzania

Titular Bishop Cassian (Franz Anton) Spiß O.S.B.

  • born on 12 June 1866 at St. Jakob am Arlberg, Diocese of Brixen / Italy

  • ordained priest on 24 April 1889

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 15 August 1892

  • assignment as missionary on 30 July 1893 to Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

  • nominated 1st Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate of Dar es Salaam and Titular Bishop of Ostrakini (today: Straki next to Port Said) on 15 September 1902

  • ordained bishop on 16 November 1902:

    [left to right: Abbot Rupert of Scheyern, Bishop Antonius Henle of Passau, Bishop Spiß, Bishop Maximilian von Lingg of Augsburg, Auxiliary Bishop Sigismund Freiherr von Ow of Regensburg, Abbot Ildefons of Seckau and Abbot Albert of Fiecht]

  • died [murdered with a spear by chief Abdallah Chimai during the Maji-Maji Revolt] on 14 August 1905 next to Mikukuyumbu / Tanzania

  • buried at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

DER SCHIEFE KELCH - Bischof Cassian Spiss - Abenteurer Gottes

Titular Bishop Thomas (Franz Xaver) Spreiter O.S.B.

  • born on 28 December 1865 at Regensburg, Diocese of Regensburg / Germany

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien on 02 February 1888

  • ordained priest on 25 July 1897

  • assignment as missionary on 05 August 1900 to Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

  • nominated 1st Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate of Dar es Salaam an Titular Bishop of Thaenitanus on 13 March 1906

  • ordained bishop on 1 May 1906

  • returned to Germany on 24 November 1920

  • nominated 1st Apostolic Prefect of the Prefecture of Zululand / South Africa on 27 August 1921

  • nominated 1st Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate of Eshowe / South Africa on 26 January 1924

  • parish priest of Vryheid July 1927 ­ September 1927

  • founded the Benedictine Sisters of Twasana in 1929

  • retired as bishop on 14 May 1943

  • died at Inkamana on 27 January 1944

  • buried in Inkamana / South Africa

Thomas Spreiter (1865 – 1944)

Bishop in East Africa (1906 – 1920) and South Africa (1921 – 1944)

by Godfrey Sieber, O.S.B.

In two respects Bishop Thomas Spreiter was a man of the first hour as an Ottilien Benedictine Missionary.  He was among the first candidates who entered Reichenbach near Regensburg, where Andreas Amrhein had opened a mission house in 1884. In addition to that, he became the founder of the Benedictine Mission in Zululand after he had worked successfully, very successfully, for two decades in the missions of East Africa.

Born on 28 December 1865 in Regensburg to a middle class family – his father ran a bakery business with several shops – he was baptized in the cathedral parish and was given the name of Franz Xaver Michael.  Together with an older sister and a younger brother he grew up in a deeply religious milieu. After completing primary school he worked for a while in his parents business, until at Easter 1885 he saw in a regional newspaper about the opening of a mission house in nearby Reichenbach.  For a long time he had given some thought to be becoming a missionary and had even gone to a priest to speak about this in confidence.  Because at the time that were no mission monasteries in Germany due to the Kulturkampf, he thought he would have to join a missionary congregation in a foreign country. But now such a community was coming into existence before the gates of his own home city. And so he made his decision. On 29 April 1885 his father brought him to the newly opened institute in Reichenbach that Andreas Amrhein had set up in the rooms of a former Benedictine monastery.

Bitter poverty reigned in Reichenbach at that time.  The living conditions in the half-dilapidated monastery were anything but comfortable, in particular for someone who had lived in a home with good amenities.  Besides that, Andreas Amrhein expected much from the candidates.  Years later Spreiter wrote about it in his diary: “That was a difficult and heroic time. We suffered from hunger and yet we had to work hard. In spite of that, I would not liked to have missed these two years in Reichenbach.” (Diary entry for 29 April 1920).  It marked him and laid the basis of the qualities that were characteristic of his later work: frugality, perseverance, and the ability to stick it out even under the most difficult circumstances.  It also helped him to deal with a heavy workload even in his old age.

He began the novitiate in Reichenbach on 29 September 1886. At Easter 1887 he transferred to St. Ottilien, where Amrhein had moved his mission house, and on 2 February 1888 he took his vows there in the Ottilien chapel together with Fr. Paulus Sauter (1861–1931) and Br. Michael Hofer (1861–1937).  It was the first profession in the congregation of St. Ottilien.  It was done behind closed doors, because no one wanted to unnecessarily draw the attention of the civil authorities to St. Ottilien due to the Kulturkampf. The foundation there was only approved as a mission house, but it was Amrhein’s secret intention to establish it as a monastery. 

During this founding period Spreiter had to be all over the place, where ever the community needed him. In addition the founder made him his secretary. In November 1893 he began to attend lectures in the seminary at Dillingen. However, his studies had to be interrupted repeatedly because pressing work awaited him in the monastery.  Bishop Petrus von Hötzl of Augsburg ordained him to the priesthood in Dillingen on 25 July 1897.  This was followed by a three-year period of teaching in the monastery school, until finally, on 5 August 1900, he received the mission cross for East Africa from the hand of Abbot Ildefons Schober.

At the time Spreiter was thirty-five years old and considerably older than most of the other confreres who had been sent to the missions.  But he was a man with experience and a pioneering spirit who demanded much of others. With regard to monastic discipline, he leaned in the direction of taking a strong position.  Fr. Maurus Hartmann, who was leading the Benedictine missions in East Africa, made him the superior of the station at Kurasini very soon.  Two years later he was named pro-vicar by Bishop Spiss. This position he held until 1904.  He then became the superior of the Lukuledi station, which was founded in 1895.  There, in August 1905, the Maji Maji uprising took him by surprise. Spreiter was the first to flee with all the personnel in order not to fall into the hands of the Maji-Maji warriors. These had killed Bishop Cassian and four other missionaries on 14 August.

To handle the rumors going about that he would be named the successor of Bishop Spiss, Speiter asked for permission to travel to Europe in order to raise funds for the missions.  This was granted to him.  In November 1905 he arrived at St. Ottilien.  There the report reached him a half–year later that Rome had appointed him bishop and successor of Bishop Spiss on 13 March 1906.  He was ordained a bishop in the abbey church of St. Ottilien on 1 May 1906.  One month later he set foot on East African soil for the second time, but this time with the burden of responsibility for planning all the mission work and assigning the personnel.  He immediately went forward with great energy to reconstruct the mission stations destroyed during the uprising and to plan for new ones.  A high point of his mission strategy was the education of catechists and the erection of schools.  Every year he undertook a pastoral journey through his mission territory. That meant he was on the road for up to six months and covered a distance of around 1500 kilometers on foot.

The First World War brought his missionary work to an abrupt end, when in 1916 the Allied Forces occupied German East Africa.  The German missionaries had to leave their mission stations and were sent to internment camps.  Some, among them Bishop Speiter, were at first allowed to remain in Dar es Salaam, but they were placed under house arrest. In September 1920, Bishop Spreiter, together with a few remaining missionaries, had to leave German East Africa and depart for their homeland. In November he arrived at St. Ottilien Archabbey.  Because there was hardly any prospect that the German Benedictines would be able to return to East Africa, Bishop Spreiter applied for a new mission territory, and in September 1921 he received a part of Zululand in South Africa that was assigned to him by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. For some decades there had already been various Protestant churches active there, but there was at yet no Catholic mission.

Spreiter arrived in South Africa in May 1922. A pioneering task again awaited the fifty-six year old Bishop. He even succeeded in learning the English language, a kind of lingua franca in South Africa. He did so well that he could express himself orally and in writing without great difficulty, although he was never as confident in this language as he was in Swahili. Understandably he could not learn accurately the much more difficult Zulu language.

Together with a group of priests and brothers who had already been with him in East Africa and young missionaries from the German abbeys, Spreiter began to build up a Catholic mission in Zululand where at the time there were hardly more than five hundred Catholics. In August 1922 Inkamana was opened as the first station.  No less than seven others were founded before the outbreak of the Second World War.  Two more stations were added when the territory was expanded; these had been established by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. For twenty years Spreiter directed the Benedictine mission in Zululand and tried with all his energy to catch up with the Anglican and Lutheran churches, which had put down strong roots in Zululand in the nineteenth century.

With the onset of old age Spreiter felt it more difficult to reckon with the changing times and to be open to new ideas. When a young generation of missionaries called into question many rigorous monastic practices which were maintained by Spreiter and received support in this by Archabbot Chrysostom Schmid on the occasion of the visitation, he pulled back into himself more and more out of disappointment and hardly took part in community life. But he continued to devote much time to his extensive correspondence, followed the events in the congregation attentively, and bitterly criticized what displeased him.

An overall decline in his physical strength and intellectual powers led to the fact that since 1941 practically speaking the leadership of the mission lay in the hands of his official representative, Fr. Theodos Schall.  Spreiter died on 27 January 1944 at Inkamana and was buried in the cemetery there.  With his diaries, which cover a period of over thirty years, and his extensive correspondence, he has left behind a rich and reliable source of information for the history of the Ottilien Congregation.

Translated  from Godfrey Sieber, “Thomas Spreiter (1865–1944), Bischof in Ostafrika (1906–1920) und Südafrika (1921–1944),” Beständigkeit und Sendung:Festschrift St. Ottilien 2003, ed. Godfrey Sieber and Cyrill Schäfer (St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag, 2003) 345–350.


Abbot and Titular Bishop Bonifatius (Josef) Sauer O.S.B.

Boniface Sauer (1877–1950)

Abbot and Bishop in Korea (1921–1950)

by Godfrey Sieber, O.S.B.

 Abbot-Bishop Boniface Sauer died in 1950 as a prisoner of the communists who declared war on the Christian Church after their take-over in North Korea. Like many others, among them in particular foreign missionaries, Sauer also became a victim of the persecution of Christians. In this way, he may, in the truest sense of the word, be held as a martyr for the faith.

Boniface Sauer was born on 10 January 1877 in Oberufhausen in Hesse and baptized with the name Josef. Due to his above average talents, his parents sent him to the Gymnasium or secondary school. However, he had to break off his studies when he completed his exam after the fifth year of secondary school because his father was very sick. Later, it would not be easy for him to complete his Gymnasium course. Only in the autumn of 1900, when he was already in the monastery, was he able to take the school leaving exam in Münster.

He asked for admittance to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Ottilien and began his novitiate as Frater Boniface. On 4 February 1900 he made his monastic profession. Because he had already studied philosophy before his entrance, he went immediately to Dillingen for theological studies and was ordained a priest there on 26 July 1903. Named the director of the house of studies for the Benedictines, he remained in Dillingen until in 1908 he received a completely new assignment. Abbot Norbert Weber had promised the French missionary bishop, Gustave Mutel, to send Benedictine Missionaries to Korea, and now he was entrusting Father Boniface along with Father Dominikus Enshoff with exploring the possibilities of a foundation in the Far East. The two priests arrived in Seoul at the end of February 1909. After they had acquired a suitable piece of property for the planned monastery, Father Dominikus traveled back to Germany in August 1909. Father Boniface remained in Korea in order to set things up for the new foundation. While he was waiting for further personnel to arrive from the mother abbey – two priests and four brothers arrived in December – he devoted himself intensively to the study of Japanese. This was necessary because of the position that the Japanese held in East Asia. They had taken over Korea as a protectorate in 1904. In 1910 they quietly annexed the peninsula and became the determining factor not only in the political but also in the cultural life of Korea, especially since the immigration of Japanese families to Korea was promoted in every way.

Taking into account the situation, Father Boniface made a great effort to cooperate with the Japanese. He maintained excellent relations with the highest authorities. Thus it comes as no surprise that up until the Second World War all the Japanese governor generals established contact with the Benedictine Abbey in Seoul and later Tokwon and often paid a visit. In Admiral Saito, who was governor from 1919 to 1929, Abbot Boniface had a special patron and friend of the monastery. The success of acquiring a plot of land and constructing the mission was not least of all possible because Sauer was ever loyal to the Japanese authorities and, furthermore, had a good knowledge of the Japanese language. In comparison, he found Korean a difficult language throughout his life. All of this may have played a role in the brutality of the Korean communists towards the German missionaries after the defeat of Japanese.

On 6 December 1909 the Benedictines opened their new monastery in the capital city of Seoul. A week later, on 13 December, Rome raised the “Monastery of St. Benedict” to a conventual priory. Father Boniface, who was entrusted with the office of prior, now bore the responsibility for the placement of the monks and the further development of the monastery. Right from the start he put his focus on the school apostolate and the setting up of workshops. By 1911 the Benedictines had opened a teachers’ training school at the monastery in Seoul. In addition to that, came a trade school that very soon won high praise from the Japanese authorities. On 13 May 1913 the priory was made an abbey. Father Boniface, who at the time was attending the general chapter in Germany, was named the first abbot. Bishop Maximilian von Lingg of Augsburg conferred the abbatial blessing on him on 8 June 1913 in the abbey church of St. Ottilien. In November of the same year he returned again to Korea.

The First World War brought far reaching changes for the Benedictine missionaries. The connection with their homeland was broken. Four brothers had to do military service in the German colony of Tsingtao and were only able to return to the abbey in 1920. But the war brought about a deterioration in the previously good relationship between the German Benedictines and the French missionaries. Fortunately the close friendship between Bishop Mutel and Abbot Boniface remained untouched by it. Among the French priests there was a noticeable resentment against the Germans. They showed no cooperation whatsoever when the Benedictines tries to get a larger area in which to do pastoral work in the capital city and rejected every concession in this matter. Abbot Boniface was pressured even more by his priests to enter into negotiations for a separate mission territory although he himself would rather have held off in this matter.  For him an exemplary monastic life held priority. He wanted to avoid any pastoral obligations that would isolate the priests from the monastic community. But in the end he gave into their pressure and called in Bishop Mutel in whose hands the ecclesiastical jurisdiction lay. That led to the Congregation of the Propaganda Fide handing over to the Benedictines the newly created Apostolic Vicariate of Wonsan on 5 August 1920. It turned out to be a relatively narrow strip of land on the east coast of North Korea. This was extended on 19 March 1921 to include southeast Manchuria.  Abbot Boniface was named the ordinary of this territory on 25 August 1920 and received the episcopal ordination on 1 May 1921 from Bishop Mutel. The missionary work forced Sauer to transfer the abbey in Seoul, which lay outside his mission territory, to Tokwon in the immediate vicinity of Wonsan in the south of the vicariate. The negative attitude of the French missionaries even went so far as to prevent the Benedictines from retaining a plot of land in Seoul on which to construct a mission procura. For that reason some confreres reproached their abbot for not having effectively enough pursued the justifiable demands of the Benedictines.

The construction of the new abbey in Tokwon began in the autumn of 1926. A year later the community transferred from Seoul to the newly finished monastery in Tokwon.  The seminary was built in 1927–1928 and from 1929–1931 the monastery church was constructed in the neo-Romanesque style. After the erection of the monastery and seminary buildings and the large church, the abbey was an imposing sight with its neo-Romanesque church towers and was a landmark visible for some distance away.

With regard to the apostolate at the abbey and the strategy for the mission work, the abbot-bishop set the tone. With the construction of a printing press, he very quickly made Tokwon an important center for the publication of liturgical, catechetical and spiritual books in Korean. Together with Abbot-Bishop Theodore Breher of Yenki, Manchuria, he laid the ground work for a genuine Benedictine tradition in East Asia to which Waegwan Abbey in South Korea also later committed itself. The training of candidates for religious life and the priesthood was a special interest of Abbot-Bishop Boniface.  Thus he allowed the minor seminary that was set up in Seoul in 1921 to expand after the transfer to Tokwon and complimented it with a major seminary. In his mission strategy, the social involvement of the Benedictines played an important role along side the pastoral engagement. Within merely twenty years Sauer succeeded in establishing two dozen mission parishes of which almost every one had a school recognized by the government.

The successful missionary and monastic apostolate came to a sudden standstill with the defeat of the Japanese and the take over by the Communist party. During the night of 9– 10 May 1949 the Korean police forced their way into the abbey and arrested the superiors. Later the entire European personnel together with the Korean priests were also arrested. In a mock trial they were charged with supposed anti-communist sabotage and sentenced. Eight priests and three brothers were executed in Pyongyang in October 1950. The rest met up with the sisters in a labor camp. There nineteen of them died because of the conditions in the camp. The survivors were released after four years of imprisonment and returned to their homeland.

Abbot-Bishop Sauer, who was plagued by painful attacks of asthma, spent a half year in solitary confinement in Pyongyang. The inhuman treatment that he suffered there soon made him a candidate for death.  On 7 February 1950 he died in the presence of Brother Gregor Giegerich, who shared the tiny cell with the bishop for three months.  He succumbed to the prison conditions eight months after the bishop. Whether and where the bodily remains of Abbot-Bishop Sauer were buried could never be determined.

Translated from Godfrey Sieber, “Bonifaz Sauer (1877–1950), Abt und Bischof in Korea (1921–1950),”

Beständigkeit und Sendung: Festschrift St. Ottilien 2003, ed. Godfrey Sieber and Cyrill Schäfer (St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag, 2003) 351–356.

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Abbot and Bishop Theodor (Hermann) Breher O.S.B.
  • born on 21 August 1889 at Ottobeuren, Diocese of Augsburg / Germany

  • monastic profession as a monk of St. Ottilien on 08 October 1911

  • ordained priest on 16 July 1915

  • assignment as missionary on 16 June 1921 to Seoul / Korea

  • nominated Apostolic Prefect of the Prefecture Apostolic of Yenki on 05 February 1929

  • nominated 1st Abbot of the Abbey of Yenki on 01 August 1934

  • nominated Titular Bishop of Hieritanus on 13 April 1937

  • ordained bishop on 05 September 1937

  • nominated Bishop of the Diocese of Yenki on 11 April 1946

  • returned to Germany on 12 December 1949

  • died on 02 November 1959 in the vicinity of Windach in a motor vehicle accident when returning from hospital in Memmingen

  • buried in St. Ottilien / Germany

Theodor Breher (1889—1950)

Abbot and Bishop in Manchuria (1937—1950)

by Godfrey Sieber, O.S.B.

 On All Soul’s Day, 2 November 1950, Bishop Theodor Breher died in a car that was supposed to bring him, deathly sick as he was, from Memmingen to his home abbey of St. Ottilien. Weakened by years of physical privation and psychological stress, under which he had to exercise his office as bishop and abbot in Manchuria, and suffering from severe diabetes, he passed away at the age of only sixty-one.

            Bishop Theodor was born on 21 August 1889 in Ottobeuren where his father ran a painting business. At baptism he received the name Hermann. Together with an older sister, who later entered the Franciscan convent of Maria Stern in Augsburg as Sr. Amarantha, he grew up in the shadow of the famous Benedictine Abbey. After his secondary school at St. Ludwig on the Main and St. Ottilien, Hermann entered St. Ottilien Archabbey and received Theodor as his name in religious life. On 8 October 1911 he made his profession. He studied philosophy and theology in Dillingen where Bishop Maximilian von Lingg ordained him to the priesthood on 16 July 1915. A year afterwards he began the study of sinology in Berlin; he completed that with the doctorate exam in the spring of 1921. That same year he was given the mission cross for Korea. He was supposed to thoroughly learn the life of the Koreans, especially their culture and religion, so that after returning to St. Ottilien, he was to prepare the missionaries assigned to East Asia.

            At that time Korea was ruled by Japan. The empire had annexed the Korean peninsula in 1910 and after 1930 also occupied the Chinese border province of Manchuria. In the southern part of Manchuria the Japanese had already made their influence felt since the war with China (1894—1895). The Ottilien Benedictines had a mission field there that had been given over to them by the Propaganda Congregation on 19 March 1921. Boniface Sauer (1877—1950), the abbot-bishop of Seoul, sent Father Theodore to Yenki, a district city near the Korean border, with instructions to intensify the mission to the Chinese. On 6 December 1922 Father Theodor arrived there. In order to create favorable conditions for the mission work, much was laid on him to work together with the civil authorities. He succeed in this with the Chinese officials and later also with the Japanese who had been assigned to Manchuria since 1931. His good knowledge of Chinese and Japanese came in very handy for him. He visited the outlying villages and hamlets by horse to make sure the Christians who no longer practiced their faith were moved to an active participation the life of the Church.

            On the occasion of his stay in Korea in 1925, Archabbot Norbert Weber decided not to call Father Theodor back to St. Ottilien, but to leave him in the East Asian missions. The same year Father Theodor was designated as the official representative of Abbot-Bishop Boniface Sauer in Manchuria. On several trips in northern China and Mongolia he came to know more closely the working methods of other mission societies

and made use of them in the Benedictine mission work. That benefited him when Rome, on 19 July 1928, reorganized the mission territory of the Benedictines in East Asia. The northeastern part of Manchuria was declared an independent mission territory as the Apostolic Prefecture of Yenki and on 5 February 1929 Father Theodor was named the Apostolic Prefect of Yenki. He now bore complete responsibility in the monastic and also in the ecclesiastical sphere. It was his priority to get additional personnel for a quick development and consolidation of the mission. At his request the Holy Cross Sisters in Cham, Switzerland sent out a group of sisters to Yenki at the end of 1931.

            When the Japanese took over control of Manchuria and especially when they set up a puppet emperor, the opposition to the Japanese occupation regime became noticeably clearer among the Koreans as well as also among the Chinese. Japanese officials attempted to suppress every opposition, but the remote regions of Manchuria slipped out of their supervision more and more. Bands of robbers took advantage of that and went through the region plundering and killing and deliberately struck isolated places and mission stations. Like most missionaries, Breher also held the Communists responsible, particularly since these called for an open battle against the Japanese. For the missionaries it was not simple: on the one hand they wanted to identify themselves with the justified concerns of the Koreans and Chinese who desired an end to the Japanese occupation, and on the other side they needed to cooperate with the Japanese administration at least so that the mission work was not jeopardized. When the Japanese officials insisted that the state religion of Japan, Shintoism, be properly maintained in all schools including the Christian mission schools, the missionaries, too, sounded the alarm. Breher registered a protest, even going against the advice of the apostolic delegate, who suggested making some compromise with the Japanese on this point.

            In November 1933 Breher traveled by train across Siberia to Germany in order to participate in the general chapter that was to take place at St. Ottilien in April 1934.  During the discussions it was emphatically emphasized that genuine Benedictine centers, namely abbeys, be set up in the mission territories. Shortly after that, on 1 August 1934, the station of Yenki was raised to an abbey. Breher, who always urged his people to carry on mission work according to the well-tried Benedictine tradition, was named the first abbot of Yenki. He received the abbatial blessing at St. Ottilien on 5 September 1934. After an exhausting tour of Germany to recruit benefactors, he returned to Manchuria in June 1935. On 13 April 1937 Rome raised the Prefecture of Yenki to an apostolic vicariate and appointed Breher as bishop. Since Yenki had only a miserable mud church, Breher gave the order to build a proper church.  It took a supreme effort on the part of the brothers to get the church ready by 5 September 1937 when Breher was ordained a bishop by the apostolic delegate.

            Thanks to the judicious planning and circumspect leadership of Breher not only did the ecclesiastical communities of Manchuria experience an upswing, but Benedictine monasticism also began to put down roots. What the Benedictines had built up in a mere twenty years was suddenly called into question after the Second World War by the political upheaval in China. On 20 May 1946 a military delegation of the new Communist regime confiscated the monastery buildings of Yenki Abbey. Breher and his missionaries were led away to a prison camp. Later, some, even the abbot-bishop, were allowed to return to the plundered abbey. The buildings and the workshops that belonged to it remain expropriated, however. It was a matter of naked survival as everything had been taken away from the monks. Pastoral work was almost impossible. Many Christians lived widely scattered because of the resettlement program. Besides, the Communist authorities made it almost impossible to visit the churches. All church institutions were closed; missionaries were put in stocks as seducers of the people and not infrequently were arrested while making their way on the street.

            Burdened with cares and deprivation, the health of the bishop, which was poor anyway, completely broke down. In the autumn of 1949 when the government let it be known that foreigners were permitted to leave the country, the confreres pressed the bishop to return to Germany. They themselves wanted to remain in China, particularly since Internuntius Riberi called upon the foreign missionaries to remain at their posts. On 12 December 1949 Breher arrived by plane in Rome. Before continuing on to Switzerland, he was received in audience by Pope Pius XII. From the words the Pope addressed to him, which were clearly heard, he had little understanding for Breher’s decision to be the first to leave the mission. It was a very severe blow to Breher. The confreres who were present at the audience recalled later that the abbot-bishop had been stunned and nearly collapsed. After a long period of recovery, Breher took part in the general chapter of June 1950. Then his strength quickly declined. Four months later he was dead.

            Breher had an aggressive and impulsive manner and was inclined to strong reactions.  He demanded much of himself and expected much from his missionaries. These admired and sometimes feared the enormous creative energy of the bishop and abbot who showed little consideration of the impact on his health. In the end his illness forced him to leave his mission work before his colleagues did. He was much criticized for this in responsible circles in his homeland. Among his own people who were with him on the mission front, Breher was and remained respected as bishop and abbot and enjoyed their full confidence because of his open and upright manner.

Translated from Godfrey Sieber, “Theodor Breher (1889—1950); Abt und Bischof in der Mandschurei (1973—1950),” in Beständigkeit und Sendung, ed. Godfrey Sieber and Cyrill Schäfer. (EOS Verlag: St. Ottilien, 2003) 369—374

Ein Ottobeurer in China (excellent biography with most valuable pictures!)

Apostolic Administrator Father Theodos (Peter) Schall O.S.B.

  • born on 07 June 1884 in Nandlstadt, Archdiocese of München und Freising / Germany

  • monastic profession as a monk of St. Ottilien on 08 October 1905

  • ordained priest on 30 May 1909

  • assignment as missionary on 19 July 1909 to Dar es Salaam / Tanzania

  • returned to Germany on 25 November 1919

  • reassignment as missionary on 15 November 1921 to Inkamana / South Africa

  • parish priest of Vryheid Aug. 1922 ­ Dec. 1925

  • assistant priest of Nongoma Aug. 1926 ­ Oct. 1926

  • parish priest of Eshowe (Zulu speaking parish and Little Flower parish) November 1932 ­ May 1952

  • Apostolic Administrator of the Vicariate Apostolic of Eshowe from 14 May 1943 to 03 August 1947

  • parish priest of Twasana June 1952 ­ January 1953

  • parish priest in Eshowe (Zulu speaking parish and Little Flower parish) January 1953 ­ February 1954

  • parish priest of Twasana February 1954 ­ November 1955

  • died on 16 November 1955 in Nongoma / South Africa

  • buried in Inkamana / South Africa


Abbot and Titular Bishop Gallus (Bernhard) Steiger O.S.B.

Bishop Aurelian (Josef) Bilgeri O.S.B.

  • born on 16 April 1909 at Memmingen, Diocese of Augsburg / Germany

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 16 May 1931

  • ordained priest on 15 March 1936

  • assignment as missionary on 06 April 1937 to Inkamana / South Africa

  • assistant priest of Mahlabatini July 1937 ­ December 1937

  • assistant priest in Nongoma December 1937 ­ May 1938

  • assistant priest in Nongoma February 1939 ­ May 1939

  • parish priest of Mahlabatini June 1942 ­ November 1943

  • nominated Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate Apostolic of Eshowe and Titular Bishop of Germanicopolis on 12 June 1947

  • ordained 1st Bishop of Eshowe on 14 September 1947

  • founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Alban on 06 January 1957

  • parish priest of Mtunzini March 1969 ­ July 1973
    died on 24 July 1973 at Mtunzini / South Africa

  • buried in Inkamana / South Africa

History Bhekuzulu Parish

History Cassino Parish

History Dumbe Parish

History Empangeni Parish

History Emoyeni Parish

History Eshowe Parish

History Fatima Parish

History of Mangete Parish

History Mandeni Parish

History Mbongolwane Parish

History Melmoth Parish

History Mtunzini Parish

History Nkandla Parish

History Twasana Parish

History Vryheid Parish

Shrine of Our Lady of Ngome

Vorgeschichte des Klosters St. Alban

Abbot and Titular Bishop Victor  (Anton) Hälg O.S.B.

  • born on 12 November 1906 at Kirchberg, Diocese of Sankt Gallen / Switzerland

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 05 November 1928

  • ordained priest on 06 March 1932

  • assignment as missionary on 15 August 1933 to Ndanda / Tanzania

  • nominated Titular Bishop of Baianensis and

  • elected Abbot Coadiutor on 13 January 1949

  • installed as 2nd Abbot Ordinary of Ndanda / Tanzania and

  • ordained bishop on 29 November 1949

  • died in an accident on 29 November 1975 at Feldkirch / Austria

  • buried at St. Ottilien / Germany

Apostolic Administrator Father Elmar (Rupert) Kimmel O.S.B.

  • born on 24 February 1914 in Hübschenried, Diocese of Augsburg / Germany

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 11 May 1935

  • ordained priest on 31 December 1939

  • assignment as missionary on 10 October 1954 to Inkamana / South Africa

  • assistant priest in Mbongolwane June 1955 ­ June 1957

  • parish priest of Amatikulu 1958 - May 1962

  • parish priest of Mandeni December 1958 - May 1962

  • parish priest of Mangete December 1962 - February 1963

  • parish priest of Eshowe (Cathedral parish) March 1963 - August 1967

  • parish priest of Amatikulu May 1963 - March 1964

  • parish priest of Eshowe (Cathedral parish) June 1968 - February 1969

  • parish priest of Empangeni February 1971 ­ August 1973

  • Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Eshowe from 1973 to 1975

  • elected 2nd Conventual Prior of Inkamana Prioy on 10 July 1975

  • resigned on 15 August 1978

  • parish priest of Twasana August 1978 ­ November 1978

  • parish priest of Nandi November 1978 - July 1980

  • died on 08 July 1980 at Nkandla / South Africa

  • buried in Inkamana / South Africa

Abbot and Titular Bishop Joachim (Alois) Ammann O.S.B.

  • born on 28 February 1898 at Wil, Diocese of Sankt Gallen / Switzerland

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 05 April 1920

  • ordained priest on 09 March 1923

  • assignment as missionary on 05 August 1923 to Ndanda / Tanzania

  • elected 1st Abbot Ordinary of Ndanda / Tanzania on 29 May 1932

  • nominated Titular Bishop of Petnelisso on 11 December 1933

  • ordained bishop on 11 March 1934

  • resigned and returned to Germany on 15 December 1949

  • stayed at Fribourg / Switzerland from 1949 to 1958

  • stayed at Münsterschwarzach / Germany from 1958 to 1981

  • died on 19 August 1981 at Münsterschwarzach / Germany

  • buried at Münsterschwarzach / Germany

Apostolic Administrator Father Timotheus (Franz Xaver) Bitterli O.S.B.

Titular Bishop Eberhard (Hermann) Spiess O.S.B.

  • born on 06 May 1902 at Ertingen, Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart

  • monastic profession as monk of St. Ottilien / Germany on 02 June 1925

  • ordained priest on 09 March 1930

  • assignment as missionary on 15 August 1932 to Peramiho / Tanzania

  • nominated 2nd Abbot Ordinary of the Territorial Abbey of Peramiho on 23 September 1953

  • abbatial blessing and

  • ordained titular bishop on 03 December 1953

  • resigned on 08 November 1976

  • founded Hanga Abbey

  • died on 17 September 1990 at Litembo / Tanzania

  • buried at Peramiho / Tanzania

Apostolic Administrator Abbot Placido (Linus Tong-Ho) Ri O.S.B.

  • born on 04 December 1935 at Paldogu, Diocese of Yenki / Korea
  • monastic profession as monk of Waegwan Abbey on 07 April 1958
  • ordained priest on 06 January 1962
  • elected 2nd Abbot of Waegwan on 15 April 1971
  • abbatial blessing on 16 April 1971
  • nominated Apostolic Administrator of Tokwon Abbey and Hamheung Diocese on 22 May 1981
  • resigned as Abbot of Waegwan on 16 April 1985
  • ad multos annos!

Wappen des BischofsAbbot and Bishop Dr. Viktor (Josef ) Dammertz O.S.B.

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Benediktinerkongregation von St. Ottilien

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