Every so often, when in the Miltenberg area, we take a hike up the Engelberg mountain. Climbing up the 612 Engelstaffen” or Angel steps, we have a breathtaking view of Grossheubach below
Once we reach the top of the mountain we’d walk the grounds of the Franciscan monastery and take a seat at a Biergarten to enjoy the local Franconian drinks and eats.
The Engelberg mountain above the Main river, then called “Rulesberg”, goes back to the pre-Christian era. There was a pagan place of worship, of which the so called “Hünenstein” or “Heuneschüssel”, a huge boulder with a bowl-like depression, still bears testimony.
The Franciscan monastery is near Großheubach in Lower Franconia. The well-known pilgrimage site is located on the striking Engelberg high above Großheubach, from where there it can be reached via 612 sandstone steps, the so-called “Engelstaffeln”.
Around 1300 a.D. a simple wooden chapel was built on a mountain near Grossheubach, and then dedicated to the Archangel Michael. As the leader of the heavenly host, he was chosen with preference to be the patron saint of churches in places of former pagan shrines. The old “Rulesberg” gradually became the “Engelberg”.
At the beginning of the 14th century (mentioned in 1310 a.D.) a statue of the Virgin Mary was put into the chapel, which is venerated there as a miraculous image of grace and where the pilgrimage makes a stop.
The Biergarten at the Engelberg Monastery. Here you can rest after your hike for a refreshment and a sandwich platter also called “Brotzeit”
The Archangel Michael
As the number of pilgrims grew, the Archbishop of Mainz, Anselm Casimir Wambolt von Umstadt, to whose district the area belonged at the time, summoned the Capuchins or Kapuziner Monks (an independent order of the Franciscan) to Engelberg in 1630 and had a monastery built for them.
The double honoring of the Archangel Michael and the blessed Mother Mary, also called “Queen of Angels”, is the origin of the local pilgrimage. The oldest authentic document suggests a heavily visited, in need of repair chapel that dates back to 1406.
Initially a hospice with a few brothers was built that opened in 1647. The monastery was dissolved in 1803 in the course of secularization, therefor the Capuchins moved to town Aschaffenburg.