“The abbey was founded in 764 by the Frankish Count Cancor and his widowed mother Williswinda as a proprietary church (Eigenkirche) and monastery on their estate, Laurissa. It was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The founders entrusted its government to Cancor’s nephew Chrodegang, Archbishop of Metz, who became its first abbot. The pious founders enriched the new abbey by further donations. To make the abbey popular as a shrine and a place of pilgrimage, Chrodegang obtained from Pope Paul I the body of Saint Nazarius, martyred at Rome with three companions under Diocletian.
On 11 July 765, the sacred relics arrived and with great solemnity were deposited in the basilica of the monastery. In 766 Chrodegang resigned the office of abbot, in favour of his other duties as Archbishop of Metz. He then sent his brother Gundeland to Lorsch as his successor, with fourteen Benedictine monks.
That same year, there was a dispute about property rights between Gundeland and Cancor’s son, and the abbey was moved to an Ice Age dune, a few hundred metres from its original location on a small island in the Weschnitz. In 772, Gundeland applied to the highest authority, Charlemagne, who found in his favour. Gundeland gave the abbey with all his properties to the king, turning it into a Royal abbey.
The abbey and basilica were then renamed in honour of Saint Nazarius: the main church of Saints Peter, Paul, and Nazarius was consecrated by the Archbishop of Mainz in September 774, in the presence of Charlemagne.”
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