The Monastery was founded in 1133 by Earl Diepold III. He gave land and property to the newly founded Monastery and invited monks of the Cistercian Order to come to Waldsassen. King Konrad III guaranteed his support and the Monastery quickly gained influence and power. The presence of the Monastery encouraged the colonisation and development of the region. However the radical changes of the Reformation did much harm and the Monastery closed when the Palatine took control. After the upper Palatine became part of Bavaria in 1628, Prince Ferdinand Maria asked Cistercian monks to return to Waldsassen. In 1690 the old monastic buildings were replaced by a splendid new monastery. The Basilica, one of the most impressive Baroque churches in Bavaria was built between 1682 and 1704. Famous architects such as Abraham Leuthner, Georg and Christoph Dientzenhofer and Bernhard Schieszer were involved in the building of the church. Monastic activities ended in 1803 due to secularisation and it was not until 1864 that the Cistercian Nuns of Seligenthal were able to buy the remnants of the old abbey and open an institute for the education of girls. Finally it was erected as a regular monastery. However the order was unable to regain the church as it had already been taken over by the Catholic Parish of Waldsassen.
In 1738, Konrad Brandenstein built an organ which was rebuilt in 1863/1864 by Augustin Bittner. Extensive changes took place in 1913/1914 by Binder & Siemann and, in 1967, by Alfons Zeilhuber. Restauration by Pfaff in 1975/1976 did not prove satisfactory and, in the years 1982 to 1989, the firm of Georg Jann built an entirely new instrument, consisting of a main organ (Marienorgel) with 60 stops, using de 1738 baroque case, and two choir organs in new neo-baroque cases. Professor Günther Kaunzinger designed the dispositions and was involved in the building, as advisor. The first choir organ, the Epistel-Orgel, was inaugurated in 1983. In 1989 the instrument was completed. The main organ has a five-manual console, from which all three organs can be played. There is also a freely movable six-manual console on the ground floor, built, in 1992, by the firm Laukhuff. The Epistel-Orgel also has its own two-manual console.
Te Deum, op.11 by Jeanne Demessieux, played by Maxime Patel on the large Jann organ of Waldsassen Basilica
Jeanne Demessieux: Etude n.1 "Pointes alternées"
Jeanne Demessieux: Etude n.4 "Accords alternées"
Jeanne Demessieux: Etude n.6 "Octaves"
Maxime Patel plays the large Jann organ of Waldsassen Basilica