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Abbey Of St. Gall (Switzerland), 20 Kreuzer 1774

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 Posted 01/27/2021  6:06 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Collectors of European coins know the Abbey of St Gall as one of the places whose coins often bear an image of a bear.

I was more interested in other features of this coin ... but got the bear anyhow!

St. Gall was an Irish monk sent to help with the evangelization and conversion of Germanic peoples to Christianity (St. Killian left Ireland a couple of decades later, and shows up on coins of Wurzburg). Around 612 AD he started a hermitage in what is now Switzerland, and after his death, an abbey dedicated in his name was built on the same spot, around 720. The abbey was made an imperial institution under Louis the Pious in the 9th century, and has has a long numismatic history, minting coins from the 12th century to near the end of the 18th.
According to one legend ...
St Gall, while travelling in the woods, was sitting one evening warming his hands at a fire. A bear emerged from the woods and charged. The holy man rebuked the bear, so awed by his presence it stopped its attack and slunk off to the trees. There it gathered firewood before returning to share the heat of the fire with St Gall. The legend says that for the rest of his days St Gall was followed around by his companion the bear.
A scene related to this legend is shown on the 5, 10 and 20 kreuzer coins of St. Gall, issued under its next-to-last abbot, Beda Angehrn, in 1774-75. Here is the 20 kreuzer, slightly smaller than a U.S. half dollar. Not a rare coin, but also not seen so often.

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