St Matthias Abbey – Trier - History and Facts | History Hit

St Matthias Abbey – Trier

Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

St Matthias Abbey houses the grave of its namesake, the apostle, St Mathias.

Antara Bate

19 May 2021

About St Matthias Abbey – Trier

St Matthias Abbey (Benediktiner abtei St. Matthias) is a 12th century church and the site of the tomb of the apostle St Matthias, who succeeded Judas.

Also located at St Matthias Abbey, which was consecrated in 1148, is a Roman cemetery housing the final resting places of the first bishops of Trier, probably dating back to the third century.

Much of the building of St Matthias Abbey was reconstructed in the 19th century, having been subject to several invasions and occupation as a private home.

St Matthias Abbey history

Magnificent St Matthias Abbey is thought to be Germany’s oldest Christian church. Begun in 1127, when the relics of the Apostle Matthias were found here, it was added to over the following centuries.

According to tradition, Matthias preached in Cappadocia, Turkey, and was martyred at Colchis, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. He was sentenced to stoning but this method miraculously failed, so he was beheaded. St. Helena, Constantine’s mother, is said to have brought St. Matthias’ relics from Jerusalem and divided them between the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and this abbey church at Trier.

The building retained its role as an abbey church and burial church of St. Eucharius and St. Valerius.

The architecture of the abbey is eclectic, the western facade features a mix of baroque, Romanesque and classicist forms.

When French army troops entered Germany after the Revolution, they requisitioned the abbey buildings in 1794. The abbey was dissolved in 1802 and it was not until 1922 that monks returned to the abbey.

St Matthias Abbey today

The abbey has been an important pilgrimage destination since the middle ages. Over 10,000 pilgrims come to the abbey each year to venerate the shrine of St. Matthias.  Pilgrim-Shields are displayed on columns adjacent to the entrance to the Matthias-Crypt.

Below the choir, visitors can view the impressive crypt, where numerous sarcophagi (including the two sarcophagi of the first bishops of Trier, Valerius and Eucharius) are kept.

The abbey museum displays a significant collection of artefacts, paintings and historical documents.

Getting to St Matthias Abbey

Saint Matthias’ Abbey is in Western Germany close to the Luxembourg border. Saint Matthias’ Abbey is a short walk from the centre of Trier.

Featured In

Roman Sites in Germany

The Romans left behind a number of fascinating sites such as amphitheatres, baths, villas, and burial grounds after being evicted from 'Germania'. Here's our pick of 10 of the most fascinating Roman ruins in Germany.