Inauguration of a New Benedictine Monastery

November 08, 2017
Source: District of Asia

On 14 October 2017, the historic Reichenstein monastery (Germany) was repopulated by five monks of the Benedictine Notre Dame de Bellaigue (France).

The High Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Patron Saint of the new foundation, was celebrated by the prior of the Bellaigue monastery, Dom Placide.

Father Firmin Udressy, Superior of the German district of the Society of St. Pius X, representatives of the city of Monschau and about 250 faithful welcomed the five new monks.

The heritage site, which includes more than 32 hectares of forest and a fishpond, sits on a rocky plateau at the mouth of the Rur River. The picturesque town of Monschau is 7 km away.

The former Premonstratensian monastery Reichenstein, built in the 12th century, is located in the austere Eifel landscape, in the middle of the nature park of the "Hohe Venn", directly on the German-Belgian border.

The monastery, that knew 750 years of uninterrupted monastic life by the canons of St. Norbert (Premonstratensian) was dissolved in the Napoleonic era and became a private property. The venerable monastery church, in which the H. Sacrifice of the Mass and the choral prayer were celebrated for so many centuries became the stable of a farm. In the year 1970 the property was acquired by Dr. Handschumacher who lovingly restored large parts of it. Above all, the old church was once again a place of worship, with which many hikers through the "Hohe Venn" have fallen in love.

Eight years ago, the Association of St. Benedict acquired the facility and with the donations of many benefactors, both from the immediate vicinity, but also from all over Germany, prepared it for the repopulation by Benedictine monks. With the support of Monument Protection and many eager helpers, considerable progress was achieved in the preservation of the building fabric.

In recent years, the Society of St. Pius X has been able to help the Association of St. Benedict restructure various energy supplies (for example, its own block heating, utility and sewage, electricity, windows, roofs, floors). 

For the time being, Reichenstein Abbey remains dependent on the Benedictine monastery of Bellaigue (near Clermont-Ferrand), which was founded in 1998 in one of the oldest abbey complexes in Burgundy and today counts around 40 monks.

The monks of Bellaigue belong to historical so-called "primitive observance", which originated in France from Father Jean-Baptiste Muard (1809-1854) in the monastery of Saint-Pierre-qui-Vire (Burgundy). 

"Dom Muard did not want to found a new form of Benedictine order, but had taken the rule of St. Benedict as is, and wanted to follow it as far as possible, in its original strictness. "(Dom Banquet)

The "original observance" is characterized by the night office, the abstinence of meat, the silence, and the full observance of the other traditional monastic observances. It is a contemplative life. The monks take on very few pastoral duties and live in seclusion.

The Holy Mass is celebrated according to the traditional liturgical books. The office is held seven times a day and once a night.

The Superior of the Reichenstein Monastery is Dom Bernhard Huber, a native of Allgäu. He was ordained a priest in 2007.

Further information about Reichenstein Abbey can be found here.

For more images, click here