Abbot, Saint Michael’s Abbey, Metten, Germany (1929-1966)
Corbinian Hofmeister, given the name Alexander, was born on February 26, 1891 as the youngest of the nine children of the master saddler Wenzeslaus Hofmeister and his second wife Dorothea née Moos in Taus in Bohemia (Budweis diocese). After the early death of his parents, the seven-year-old was taken into the care of his older sister, who was married to a Bavarian customs inspector in Aschaffenburg. He and her family first moved to Tittling, then to Landshut and finally to Dingolfing. On the advice of the parish priest, who recognized the boy’s talents, he was sent to the boys’ seminary at Metten Abbey in Lower Bavaria. After graduating from high school in 1910, he entered the novitiate (October 24) and presented on November 16, 1911 before Abbot Willibald Adam his first profession. On this occasion he also received the religious name Corbinian. He studied philosophy and theology in Metten, Innsbruck and Eichstätt and was ordained a priest at the beginning of the First World War in Metten (August 7, 1914), with a dispensation before the solemn profession. He then worked as a cooperator in Neuhausen in pastoral care.
In the winter semester of 1915 he began studying modern languages (English, French) in Munich, which he completed in 1919 with the teaching examination and the Magister degree magna cum laude and then, after a practical year at the Luitpold-Oberrealschule in Munich, stayed for a few years Teacher and educator at the Abbey Gymnasium. From 1924 to 1926 he held the same position at the Archabbey of Saint Vincent in Pennsylvania. He then undertook a study trip through England and France. After his return to Metten, he taught new languages and at the beginning of 1929 took over the management of the monastery seminary (until 1930).
After Abbot Willibald Adam had resigned from his office for health reasons in 1929, the only 38-year-old Corbinian Hofmeister was elected his successor on July 15, 1929 under the chairmanship of Abbot Praeses Placidus Glogger (Saint Stephan, Augsburg) with 41 of 50 votes after Prior Maurus Dietl, who was elected in the first ballot, had rejected. Confirmation from Rome came on July 19th and Abbot President Glogger performed the ceremonial induction of the newly elected on August 5th. The Benedict was postponed to September 29 in view of the summer holidays.
Corbinian Hofmeister was abbot during the Nazi regime, which he opposed. From Rome he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the neighboring Benedictine Abbey of Niederaltaich in 1934 (Abbot Gislar Stieber) deployed to avert the impending financial collapse. He hired the so-called “Ochsensepp” lawyer Dr. Josef Müller, with whom he traveled through Europe to organize foreign loans until the Niederaltaich bankruptcy was successfully averted. The Nazis later accused Hofmeister of “currency offences”, but could not prove anything. Instead, the Gestapo tried to attack him personally, accusing him of “moral offences.” Since Hofmeister refused to make any statements, he was briefly imprisoned, but his friend Müller was able to secure his early release.
As in the whole of the German Reich, the schools in Metten and Niederalteich were increasingly targeted by the National Socialists. While the Niederalteich grammar school, which was still under construction, was simply closed, Metten was initially subjected to a number of harassments. On March 31, 1939, Hofmeister also had to close the abbey high school, the monastery seminary, the episcopal seminary, and the religious seminary.
Because of his participation (he was supposed to establish contact with the Vatican) in the resistance groups around the aforementioned Josef Müller, the evangelical theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with whom he was a very close friend, the later auxiliary bishop Johannes Neuhäusler, the Ettal abbot Willibald Wolfsteiner and the boss Admiral Canaris of the German counter-intelligence, Hofmeister was arrested by the Gestapo at Easter 1943, was first imprisoned in Berlin and was imprisoned from April 1944 to April 1945 with Martin Niemöller and Michael Hoeck (brother of the later Abbot Johannes Hoeck von Ettal and Scheyern). He was a “Special prisoner” in the commandant’s arrest of the Dachau concentration camp. He later never spoke about this period and left no notes about it.
After the end of the war, Abbot Corbinian resumed teaching at the Abbey Grammar School (until 1960). Again and again he was used as an intermediary for the American occupying forces. In 1946 he took in the German Benedictines, who had been expelled from the Bohemian Abbey of Braunau, with their Abbot Dominik Prokop in Metten. On his initiative, they were given the former Augustinian monastery in Rohr in Lower Bavaria.
Corbinian Hofmeister died on October 24, 1966, the anniversary of his entry into Metten, in the hospital of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Tutzing and was buried on October 27 in the Metten Abbey Church, to the right of the Marienaltar.