A Benedictine abbey founded in 720 was at the origin of St Gall's expansion. In the 10C it was a source of immense intellectual influence. The Reform struck it a fatal blow and it was only in the mid-18C that it began to develop again. In 1805 the abbey was deconsecrated. The town is known not only for this jewel of Baroque architecture, but also for being the cradle of the Swiss textile industry. It has become the national centre for the cotton and embroidery industry.