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Einsiedeln (Īnˈzēˌdəln) [key], town (1990 pop. 10,869), Schwyz canton, E central Switzerland. Einsiedeln is the most famous pilgrimage center in Switzerland and one of the most noted in Europe. Its important Benedictine abbey, founded in the 10th cent., was built on the supposed site of the cell of St. Meinrad, a 9th-century martyr. The monastery (rebuilt in the early 18th cent.) is one of the largest and finest examples of Swiss baroque architecture. Its church contains the sacred image of the "Black Virgin," a wooden statue discolored by candle-burning through the centuries. The townspeople annually perform The Great World Theater, a religious play by Calderón. Paracelsus is said to have been born in the town; Zwingli was (1516–18) a priest there. Einsiedeln today is a popular winter resort and home to printing, machinery, and furniture-making industries.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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