Monastery 'Marienthal‘
Yolanda of Vianden (1231-17 December 1283)

Description and biography.

The Dominican nuns of Augsburg founded the monastery ‘Marienthal’ in the county of Lützelburg in the valley of the river Eisch, near the castle of Hollenfels, in 1232. This county (Luxembourg) was in possession of Countess Ermesinde II (1186-17.12.1247), since 1197, after the death of Emperor Heinrich VI. But she had to  leave Namur to her nephew in Haina. So she lost her last base on the river Meuse.

Countess Ermesinde II (1186-7.12.1247).
Luxembourg 1932, Mi 245-249; Sc B50-B58.  Very expensive.

She recognized the foundation of Marienthal on 22 February 1238,
and favoured it.

The seal with the statue of Countess Ermesinde and the text:

(ET DE  RUPE = et Laroche: the city, now named La-Roche-en-Ardenne
in the province of Luxembourg. With thanks to Mr G. Bary.)

Luxembourg  1986, Mi 1159, Sc 762. Now preserved in the National
Archives in Luxembourg.

She granted the charter of freedom to the towns of Echternach (1236),
Diedenhofen and
to Luxembourg (1244).
Countess Ermesinde had a very good reputation
Countess Ermesinde II handed over the letter of freedom to the inhabitants
of Echternach in 1236. Engraving by the Dutch painter P.H. Witkamp,
ca 1880.
Luxembourg 1986, M 1158, Sc 761.

Prioress Yolanda of Mersch or of Vianden.

A famous prioress of Marienthal was Yolanda of Mersch, also named of Vianden (1231-17.12.1283).Yolanda, or Yolande, youngest daughter of Count Henry I of Vianden, joined the monastery of Marienthal against the wishes of her parents when she was very young.

The Dominican from the priory of Trier, Hermann von Veldenz, tells in his epic, written in 1290, that Yolanda’s mother had hoped to arrange a marriage into the nobility (to Walram of Monschau) in order to consolidate the influence of the Counts of Vianden, especially in their relations with the Counts of Luxembourg. Finally in 1245, when Yolanda was 14, her mother, Margareta of Courteney (French: Marguerite de Courtenay), accompanied her to the Dominican monastery of Marienthal where Yolanda unexpectedly fled into the protection of its inner sanctuary and became a novice.
A year later, her mother returned, with the support of several Luxembourg noblemen, threatening to destroy the convent unless
Yolanda agreed to leave. The girl was thus persuaded to return to Vianden where her parents' once again attempted to change her wishes. But Yolanda did not waver. If anything, she was reinforced in her views through discussions with well-known Dominicans such as Walter von Meisemburg and Albertus Magnus (ca 1200-15.11.1283).

Her life in the monastery.
Finally, even her mother relented and agreed that Yolanda should return to Marienthal. Entering a life of prayer and charity, Yolanda went on to become the convent's prioress in 1258.
During this time she collected valuable relics for the monastery, many manuscripts for the library and could expand the territory. She lived in the monastery till her death in 1283. Interestingly, her mother also joined the monastery after the death of her husband Henry I during a crusade (1252).

There is little remaining evidence of the life of Yolanda apart from a skull, said to be hers, which is displayed at the Gothic church of the Trinitarians in Vianden (13th century). As the convent in Marienthal was closed in the 18th century, there is little trace of her there today. In 1825 her grave was discovered in the monastery.

The epics of Yolanda.

There are two epics of the life of Yolanda of Vianden.

Epic by the Dominican Hermann von Veldenz. 1290.
His work consists of 5,963 lines of rhyming couplets in Moselle Franconian with close similarities to today's Luxembourgish. Brother Hermann's epic appears to have lain in the Marienthal monastery for almost four centuries after he wrote it. Brother Hermann was inspired to write the story of her life and why she has become such a revered figure, above all, for Luxembourg's women.

In 1655 the then lost original was copied on paper by the Belgian Jesuit, Alexander von Wiltheim. At the same time, Wiltheim wrote a life of Yolanda in Latin based on Brother Hermann's Middle High German.
Then in November 1999, the Luxembourg linguist Guy Berg discovered the original manuscript, now known as the Codex Mariendalenis, in Ansembourg Castle, a short distance from Marienthal. This was a very important discovery as it is considered to be the oldest manuscript in Luxembourgish.
References:  Bruder Hermann: Yolanda von Vianden. Moselfränkischer Text aus dem späten 13. Jahrhundert, übersetzt und kommentiert von Gerald Newton und Franz Lösel (Beiträge zur Luxemburger Sprach- und Volkskunde XXI, Sonderreihe Language and Culture in Medieval Luxembourg 1). Luxembourg 1999.

The second poem about Yolanda, by an anonymous English author, has also recently come to light. Entitled Iölanda, a Tale of the Duchy of Luxembourg, it was published in 1832. The author, who was told about Yolanda on a visit to the castle in Vianden, was apparently aware of Brother Hermann's account as he explains in his introduction that, for Romentic reasons, he has changed the story so that it concludes with Iölanda's marriage.
References: Iölanda, a Tale of the Duchy of Luxembourg, anonymous poem in English (1832). D'Land Luxembourg. Retrieved 15 January 2007.

Other references see internet.  

Sources: All from Wikipedia


The Black Madonna, wood sculpture from the 15th century
of the monastery of Marienthal, today in the church of Saint
John in the city of Luxembourg.

Luxembourg 1963, Mi 672, Sc 394.



The seal of the monastery 'Marienthal' with the Blessed Virgin
and Child from 1295.

1974, Mi 881, Sc 545.



Gothic sculpture group 14th century. ‘Saints Cecilia and Valerian crowned
by angel’ from the church of Marienthal, now in the church of Hollenfels.

Luxembourg 1974, Mi 887 , Sc 534.




Yolanda Tower of the monastery 'Marienthal' in Eischthal.

Luxemburg 2006, Mi 1723, Sc -.  



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