The current mission museum's special exhibition portrays the life of abbot Notker Wolf and highlight his merits for the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictines. 


Pfeil runterBiographical Data

June 21, 1940 
born at Bad Grönenbach on as eldest son to tailor and factory worker Josef Wolf and his wife Katharina, under the baptismal name of Werner

elementary school, then secondary school at Memmingen; first contact with St. Ottilien by incidential reading of St. Ottilien's “Missionsblätter” periodical

entry into St. Ottilien's boarding school (Missionsseminar)

entry into the monastery as “Brother Notker”

September 17, 1962 

philosophy studies at Papal University of Sant' Anselmo in Rome

theological studies at Munich University

September, 1 1968 

PhD in natural philosophy at Sant' Anselmo; there also first cantor (conductor of the Choralschola) 

professor for natural philosophy and philosophy of science at Papal University of Sant' Anselmo

October 10, 1977 
elected archabbot of the St. Ottilien convent, abbot president of the Missionary Benedictines' Congregation

September 7, 2000 
elected abbot primate and abbot of Sant' Anselmo

return to St. Ottilien

April 2, 2024 
death after short illness

Extracts from the German obituary


Archabbot (from 1977)

"The new abbot's leadership style was desribed as "rapidissimo" (meaning 'very quick' in Italian); however, this was not perceived as burdensome due to his high intelligence, a generous and trusting willingness to delegate, an explicit brotherly leadership and a philanthropic humor … At St. Ottilien, archabbot Notker supported a number of renewal processes like closing down outposts and workshops no longer viable, increasing involvement of laity, liturgical renewals and the major restoration of the abbey church. In these processes, he extensively involved his religious community; as a consequence, there were few conflicts. Above all, he changed the hierarchical management style to a more horizontal leadership."

Abbot President of the Missionary Benedictines (from 1977)

"Due to the wide exemption from inner-monastic duties, the archabbot could go on visitations to houses of the congregation. The dynamic management style of the new archabbot resulted in a number of shifts that enabled necessary developments in the congregation like the change from classical European-centered mission to native churches and the consequential switch of missionary houses taking over special tasks in the dioceses; the transition from mainly European convents to local religious communities in India or Togo; foundings like the one on the Philippines with an emphasis on monastic life or the openness to inter-religious dialog. This latter topic was especially close to abbot Notker's heart; he encouraged the religious interchange between Christian and Buddhist monasteries which is still alive today, and at numerous times he stayed at Buddhist monasteries in Japan."

Bridge-builder to China (from 1985)

"One of Abbot Notker's special interests was the interchange with the Chinese Church. After the expulsion of European missionaries by the Chinese government in 1952, contacts to the local parishes broke off. After the first cautious opening of China, archabbot Notker travelled in 1985 to the former Yenki/Yenji diocese in Northeastern China. Through adventurous steps, the remaining Christians who have had to endure hard times could be reached. The Archabbey started a number of aid projects for the former mission areas, among them the re-erection of the theological college, construction of a hospital, building projects of churches, schools and kindergartens, social projects, training of local priests and religious and many more. However, the focus was on human contacts, enhanced by numerous invitations to Germany and return visits to China."

Abbot Primate of the Benedictines (from 2000)

"During his visitation travels to the monasteries helped … especially his ability to get involved with every situation and every human being; he showed a strong presence and genuine commitment. At Sant' Anselmo, there were plans for a great modernization and restoration program with renovation of rooms, new windows, an effective internet system, restructuring of the university and many more. These tasks required major coordination and committee work with the university, the order, the Vatican and the authorities of Rome. On October 13, 2012 he was re-elected by the abbot’s congress for another term of 4 years …"

Monk at St. Ottilien (return from 2016)

"After this time, he returned to St. Ottilien which he … always called 'my home'. He was on release now but was involved in the monastery in the areas of future planning, acquisition of funds, public events; now and then he found concise words at inner-monastic discussions. Above all, he had an impressing program of lectures, radio and TV talks, retreat days, spiritual exercises, celebratory masses and events of all sorts, which led him across the country and around the world. Thanks to his self-discipline and a high self-expectation to be available for the people, he mastered this program … His high self-expectation was expressed in his socio-critical and pastorate writings where he challenged the individual with a great freedom combined with many responsibilities. A resting point in his duties were the Liturgy of the Hours and community life which he obviously liked."

Exhibition objects

As archabbot, abbot president of the Missionary Benedictines' Congregation and later abbot primate, Notker Wolf travelled around the world to visit monasteries, confreres, sisters and nuns and celebrate mass with them. He always took several items on his travels.

Chalice and paten for Holy Mass


Abbatial seal "Notker Wolf Archiabbas Ottiliensis"

Abbot's staff with sketched globe, below the inscription "euntes in mundum universum" from the so-called missions assignment of the risen Christ according to Saint Mark's Gospel, chapter 16,15, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation."

Stole for the celebration of Holy Mass

Pectoral (breast cross) with his "JUBILATE DEO" motto. 
Notker Wolf quoted in a 2010 interview "one of the most beautiful Gregorian Chants is the 'Jubilate Deo' offertory. This has become my purpose in life; not to focus on myself but on God, to praise His greatness, the joy to be accepted by God."

His motto "Jubilate Deo" with abbatial emblem also showed on the door plate to his room in the monastery. Abbot Notker's emblem is combined from three single symbols:
1. a white cross on red, the emblem of the St. Ottilien Missionary Benedictines, a symbol for the Christian gospel
2. a harp as a symbol for the psalms, derived from harpist King David, and of Notker Wolf's motto
3. A river symbolizing the Iller, the river running through Notker Wolf's hometown Bad Grönenbach. 


Several objects show different interests and personal preferences of Notker Wolf.

Collecting of items for the mission museum; its permanent exhibition has many valuable gifts on display. Abbot Notker also collected for St. Ottilien's nativity collection; in the photo above, an elaborate ivory nativity scene from the 1980ies.

Public appearances (lectures, talk shows) and writings
In the photos above, two books out of his extensive bibliography comprising 30 titles.

Inter-religious dialog
Notker Wolf's sandals and prayer chain during his stay at a Buddhist monastery in 1984. 
In an interview, he quoted "I was and still am in discussion with Buddhists, especially with Zen Buddhism. I stayed at Japanese monasteries, lived with the monks and I must say that this has taken me back to my own roots. Some values I had no longer considered came back to my mind."

Pipe smoking
Personal pipe set, tamper, pipe cleaner and favorite brand of tobacco. 
Notker Wolf at his speech for the "pipe smoker of the year" award in 2012: "smoking a pipe is a good daily companion in my great responsibility for the worldwide organization of all Benedictines."

Notker Wolf’s transverse flute and sheet music. 
In an interview (2010) he said "I later studied the recorder, with eleven years I started on the violin and was intended to join the St. Ottilien orchestra. There I saw that the transverse flute was missing, and so I learned to play the flute. Since then, the flute has become my instrument for life. To this day I frequently play classical music."


In the mission Museum's special exhibition, a photo wall highlights several pictures of abbot Notker Wolf's life stages.