Benedict of Aniane (750-821) founded the Benedictine monastery in today's Kornelimünster around 814. As advisor to King Louis the Pious, he implemented the rules of the order of his namesake Benedict of Nursia (480–547) as the standard rules of monastic life.
The monastery was initially well-known as the "Saviour's Monastery on the River Inde", since Louis gave the three Biblical or "redemptive" relics, the skirt, shroud and sudarium from the Aachen relics treasury to the monastery.
Around 875 an exchange took place: Charles the Bald took half of the shroud for the establishment of his monastery in Compiegne in France, while the monks on the Inde received the top of the skull and the arm relic of the holy Kornelius (+253). With the increasing veneration of the holy one, in the 11th century the name was also changed to Kornelimünster. From now on there were two bright lights in the life of the abbey: the annual Octave Day around 16 September (the name celebration of the holy Kornelius) and the pilgrimage every seven years.
The tradition of the Octave was also continued after the abolition of the Imperial Abbey in 1802. It was the citizens of the parish of Kornelimünster who kept it alive.
The last pilgrimage during which the relics were in possession of the Benedictine Abbey took place in 1790. Four years later they had to be brought to safety to protect them from the troops. Kornelimünster owes it to the Bishop of the first Diocese of Aachen that the relics were given to the new parish of St. Kornelius. The parish therefore became the bearer of the pilgrimage instead of the monastery.
In the 19th century the pilgrimages gradually began again. In 1916 the pilgrimage did not take place because of the First World War. In 1937 the relics of Kornelimünster were displayed from the gallery of the St. Kornelius Church before the turmoil of the Second World War interrupted the tradition. After the war, the tradition of the pilgrimage was taken up again and continues to this day in the same seven-year cycle as the Aachen pilgrimage.
According to tradition, the cloth in Kornelimünster is the apron which Jesus wore when he washed the disciples' feet at the Last Supper. Like the other two relics in Kornelimünster, the apron originates from the relic treasures, which Charlemagne had given to the Palace Chapel in Aachen. His son, Ludwig, gave it to Kornelimünster. While the relics in Aachen are kept in a precious shrine, however, the relics in Kornelimünster are kept in a simple wooden shrine in the chapel of the pilgrimage.
Scientific investigations of these textiles certify an origin from the area of the Near East in Antiquity. It is about 2.30 m long, the width at the two ends amounts to between 0.95 m and 1.28 m. The length and form of the cloth suggest that it was intended as a mantle. It consists of a simple cross-stitched fabric of strong linen threads.
According to tradition, this cloth was used when Jesus was laid in the tomb.
It is an artfully woven linen cloth, comparable to an ornamental cover. It is approx. 1.80 m wide and 1.05 m long.
Originally it was twice as large. The missing half was given to Charles the Bald in around 875 for the establishment of his monastery in Compiègne, in exchange the abbey received the relic of the holy Kornelius and the holy Cyprianus.
This is the cloth which is said to have covered Jesus' head in the tomb.
It is a so-called Byssus cloth, which is made of very fine silk threads. In ancient times, Byssus was among the most precious fabrics.
It is 4 x 6 m long and is folded 16 times and kept on a red silk padded base. A gauze is pulled over it for protection. It was usual in the Jewish tradition to cover the head of a dead person with this valuable cloth. Since it is so fine, it is still possible to recognize the facial features through the cloth.