Local Heart, Global Soul

October 5, 2015

Old And New Joined, Just As Are Old And Modern Times…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my last post from St. Benedictusberg Abbey in Limburg,  I’ve visited the large chapel and now I can visit several of the rooms close to it.

It’s possible to see the turrets from the older building from one of the windows and I have asked permission to take a few photographs, permission that was granted.  Wikipedia tells me:

“In 1947 the diocese began negotiations with the Benedictine congregation over revival of monasticism at Mameles, and it was agreed that the foundation should be placed within the Benedictine Solesmes Congregation.

That happened in 1951, with the arrival in November of thirteen monks from Oosterhout.
Finally a monastery church was built, and consecrated in 1962. It received abbey status in 1964.

Offices are sung in Latin, with prominence given to Gregorian chant. St. Benedictusberg has become an expanding Benedictine community, partly as a result of the savage decline of the Benedictine Order across the Netherlands which has required monks from elsewhere in the country to find new homes.”

I’m conscious that Himself and the kids are waiting (patiently or otherwise) in the car outside, so although I would like to have spent more time here, I tell the lady who is guiding me around that I need to get back to my probably restless family. On the way out I see a small table where a booklet (Dutch language only) and an aerial photograph of the abbey are available for a donation. I buy both from my guide as thanks for letting me visit… This is the kind of place that is fast disappearing from many countries today. A very quiet, contemplative world.

Kiwi’s note: Once again I’m having problems with photographs, this time photos that should be viewed in landscape form (and imported as such) are being turned around into portrait form by WordPress as they are imported. There appears to be nothing I can do, deleting and re-importing give the same result no matter how many times I try. Apologies!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

St. Benedictusberg Abbey

 

October 4, 2015

The Turbulent History Of St. Benedictusberg Abbey…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following my yesterday’s post, I have arrived at the St. Benedictusberg Abbey to see if it is possible to take a look inside.

Wikipedia tells me: “Work on construction began in 1922, with the first side of an imposing four sided edifice, to surround a central precinct.

Construction was interrupted almost immediately in 1923, by the great depression.
In 1927 the new Abbey was affiliated to the Beuronese Congregation, then in a particularly dynamic phase, notable both for theological research and involvement with the modernisation of Gregorian liturgy.

The return of war in 1939 and German invasion in 1940 brought massive new challenges, because the German monks were called up for military service. Those who refused faced sustaining their neutrality in an occupied country.

Liberation in September 1944 brought no respite for German monks in Limburg who were initially interned and then expelled to what remained of Germany. The monastery buildings were occupied by the American Army, later used to house “political delinquents” and returning Dutch Indonesian refugees. Just one monk, having Dutch citizenship, was permitted to remain within the walls of the monastery, and he prevented the total pillage and destruction of monastic records, many of which disappeared nevertheless.”

A lady opened the door to my knock and when I explained that I would like to visit, she said looked at the car with Himself and the kids in it rather apprehensively. Knowing that places like thee are often places of retreat I quickly clarified that I would be the only visitor and she relaxed, explaning that I could come in but that I would have to be completely silent please.  I would also only be allowed to see a small part of the complex , all of which was fine so she showed me into a large hall.

This appears to be the chapel area, there are rows of pews for almost three quarters of the space and the other section are seats facing each other at right angles to the pews. This second section of seating have matching books at every place. It’s all very austere, there are a few paintings on the walls but next to no decoration or  ornamentation.It is very serene and peaceful though, and completely and utterly quiet. I take a short rest and meditate for a moment on how beauty and peace  just in religious settings can come in many vastly different forms.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

St. Benedictusberg Abbey

October 3, 2015

Should I Call This Abby Road?…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just down the small lane from the sculpture park, close to Vaals in Limburg there is also a small abbey.

We have been catching glimpses of it’s main turrets from the road every time we traveled between Vaals and Maastricht and I was really keen to take a closer look.

Himself and the kids were less keen but indulged me.

The juxtaposition is striking and, to my eye a little strange. It is called the Abbey of Saint Benedictusberg  and it’s open to the public. Wikipedia tells me:

“As part of Bismarck’s power struggle (Kulturkampf) with the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, monastic orders were forbidden to accept novitiates.

The 1872 Jesuits’ Law banned the more assertively independent Catholic orders, and Benedictines in effect found themselves exiled.
A change of pope in 1878 toned down Rome’s confrontational advocacy of Papal infallibility, but restrictions in Germany were relaxed only slowly, during the 1870s large numbers of religious Catholic refugees from German had settled in the Netherlands and in Belgium.
In 1893, a number of originally German monks remained at Affligem Abbey in central Belgium, part of this German monastic diaspora.

In 1893 a group of them founded a monastery of their own, the Abbey of St. Clement in Merkelbeek, Dutch Limburg, close to the frontier with Germany and it was the first Benedictine foundation to be authorised in the Netherlands following the Protestant Reformation, three centuries earlier.
Subsequently these German monks founded (or re-founded) Kornelimünster Abbey (near Aachen) in 1906 and an abbey at Siegburg in 1914.
The outbreak of war in 1914 created difficulties for Melkelbeek, with many of the monks forced to leave, towards the end of 1918, the monks decided to relocated to a site closer to the frontier with Germany, choosing to build on farmland half a kilometer outside the hamlet of Mamelis, in the southern part of Limburg. We headed up the lane and before long came across a large building on a small rise that consisted of a brand new, minimalist modern style building, with few windows and no ornament, connected to what looks to be something well over one hundred years old, with brickwork, and two large round corner turrets. Himself and the kids opt to stay in the car: I make my way to the front entrance… (Note for the curious: “eigen weg” translates as “private road”).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

St. Benedictusberg Abbey

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