EINSIEDELN, in'ze den, Switzerland, (place of the solitaries or hermits), a small town in the canton of Schwyz, 2,895 feet above sea-level and 26 miles southeast of Zurich, seat of a renowned abbey of Benedictine monks since the middle of the 9th century. It is a famous resort of pilgrims who visit the place in thousands to venerate an ancient miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin. For the accom modation of the pilgrims the little town has more than 50 inns or houses of entertainment. Those pilgrimages are made throughout the year, but the great annual pilgrimage culmi nates on the anniversary of the dedication of the abbey's church, 14 September. The pres ent abbey is the successor of four previous edi fices which were destroyed by fire; it was erected in the first quarter of the 18th century and is an imposing pile in the Italian style. The place was visited by Edward Gibbon, the histo rian, 1755, who writes that he was "'astonished by the profane ostentation of riches in the poorest corner of Europe; amidst a savage scene of woods and mountains a palace appears to have been erected by magic and it was erected by the potent magic of religion?' The abbey which Gibbon then saw is still in exist ence and is annually visited by more than 150, 000 pilgrims. It was plundered of its vast treas
ure of silver and gold and precious stones by the French (1798), but it is still very rich, es pecially in literary monuments, possessing a li brary of 61,000 volumes, 1,190 manuscripts and more than 1,000 productions of the printing press in its early period. The leading industry is the manufacture and sale of religious objects, statues, crucifixes, altar vessels, etc. The mon astery has many historical and religious associa tions; a great chandelier was donated by Na poleon III. The monastery was founded by Meinrad, who built a lady chapel here to house the statue of the Virgin given him by Hildegard. Pop. 8,438. Consult Ringholtz, 0., 'Geschichte des fiirstlichen Benediktinerstiftes Einsiedeln' (Einsiedeln 1904).