The International Seminary of St. Peter in Wigratzbad, Germany, was the first seminary founded by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, its first house established canonically and the site of its General House. It is situated on the ancient frontier of Bavaria and Swabia, a short distance from Germany’s borders with neighbouring Austria and Switzerland. It is less than twenty kilometers from the renowned island city of Lindau on Lake Constance at the foot of the Alps.
The little hamlet of Wigratzbad in the township of Opfenbach had already gained a name for itself as a pilgrimage centre decades before the arrival of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Pilgrims flocked here from the surrounding district as well as from other regions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. Particular honour is paid here to the Mother of God under her title “Immaculate Conception, Mother of Victory”. The pilgrimage site finds its origin in the extraordinary life of Miss Antonie Rädler, beginning in the 1930s and developing over the years into a centre of prayer and reparation to the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts. Antonie Rädler and the former director of the pilgrimage centre, Fr. Johannes Schmid of the Passionist Congregation, had discussed the idea of an international seminary in Wigratzbad many years before the Fraternity of St. Peter was founded.
After the foundation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in the fall of 1988, the founders began to seek a suitable site for a house of priestly formation. As early as August, 1988, Bishop Josef Stimpfle of Augsburg announced that he would accept a canonical establishment in Wigratzbad. In November thirty-one seminarians commenced their studies. Father Josef Bisig became both the Superior General of the fledgling institute and the rector of its new house of formation. From the beginning the studies were divided into two language groups, French and German. Seminarians from countries speaking other languages chose to study in one of the two groups.
Until the fall of 2000, under the rectorships of Fathers Bisig, Gouyaud, Baumann and du Fay, the seminary was housed in the pilgrimage centre. During these years the curriculum of studies was developed and many ecclesiastical dignitaries were welcomed, such as Cardinals Mayer, Ratzinger, Gagnon and Stickler, as well as a number of bishops and archbishops. In these years the problem of a shortage of space was growing, so that the Superior General and the Rector conceived a plan to construct a building on the neighbouring premisses uniquely to serve the needs of the seminary.
At the beginning of the autumn term in 2000, and with the installation of its new rector, Fr. Bernward Deneke, the building was opened. It was solemnly blessed by Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 2nd December 2000. At present the International Seminary of St. Peter, together with a separate building constructed by the diocese, houses over 60 young men from Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Brasil, Chile and Columbia who are preparing to become priests for the third millennium. The actual rector is Fr. Vincent Ribeton.