The "Little Crib" of Frauenwörth

On 11th December 1999 Msgr. Erich Lidel, inaugurated the “Little Crib of Frauenwörth” in the Abbesses Hall of the Abbey. Msgr. Lidel is the longstanding Chairman of the Bavarian Crib Association.

The story

Gerti Schanderl, 1922
Gerti Schanderl, 1922

At the beginning of Advent in 1948, the then abbess, M. Stephania Wolf received a letter from the Presbytery in Malching am Inn.

Gerti Schanderl (70) wrote:

 

"My grandparents on my father’s side, or my Great-grandparents respectively bought the little crib at an auction during the Secularisation in 1803. I still have 52 figures from it. They are moulded in wax, clothed and decorated in finest filigree-work. Recently several people have shown interest in acquiring the crib, but I would like to ask the reverend Lady Abbess, whether she would not like to have back the crib for the convent?"

 

Soon afterwards the figures returned to their original home and Mrs. Schanderl wrote:

 

… "I do not want to be paid for the crib, but if Lady Abbess could send me some gingerbread and a bottle of the famous liqueur of the Abbey, I would be very happy. But most of all, though, I ask you to pray for me ...” 

It was this generous act of Mrs. Schanderl which brought our crib back home. Times were difficult, and several other reasons played their role in the drama, so that the “homecomers” remained for forty years like “Sleeping Beauty” in an archive cupboard.

Old King
Old King

In 1992, Abbess M. Domitilla Veith brought the figures to the crib workroom, where they were newly taken notice of.

After the first appraisement by Dr. Nina Gockerell, it was clear that the tiny figures (9-11cm) need to be restored by experts, and then exhibited in a way which would prevent further damage.

 

The restoration took six years, and then it was necessary to make a protective box for the crib scenes.

 

With the help of competent crib-lovers the difficulty was solved in such a way that Dr. Nina Gockerell ended her lecture on 21.12.1999 with the words:

“After the careful and costly restoration of the figures and the completion of the new crib cabinet, the convent of Frauenwörth has re-gained a jewel of Bavarian Crib culture. Not only is the crib charming, it is also an important landmark in the development of cribs in Bavaria.”

We do not know where the figures of the large crib or those of the little crib originally come from, but there exist hints that they have been manufactured in the abbey.

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