Neustadt for the Mariawald Abbey in the Eifel

Cloister – No Entry ”is still written on a plaque in the monastery. The tin plates, spoons and intricately folded napkins still lie on the wooden tables in the refectory. Dresses, jumpsuits, and even a pair of shoes still hang in the old cloakroom, as if their owners are due back soon. But for the Trappists there is no going back. In 2018, the aging community that had shrunk to a few monks broke up Mariawald Abbey on. It was the last Trappist monastery in Germany, situated in the Eifel between the towns of Heimbach and Gemünd. Images from the frozen time remain, a lively monastery restaurant, a monastery shop selling cold cuts and cheeses, a liqueur factory with bottling traditional abbey drops – and hope for a new use of the monastery that will take concrete to shape in the future through investor funds. In an interview with our newspaper, Ralph Mauel and Christoph Böhnke of Kloster Mariawald GmbH & Co. KG ”reveal their upcoming plans; Mauel is the manager, authorized signatory Böhnke.

Facelifting from fall or winter

Major modernization of Mariawald Abbey is expected to begin “from next fall or winter,” according to Mauel, and begin with “modernization of gastronomy”. It is planned, inter alia, construction of the brewhouse, guests will be able to see the brewhouse. Almost unnoticed by the public, the strong beer “Nemus Mariae” entered the market at the beginning of the year – a secular product that builds on the reputation of the abbey. For now, the beer is brewed in Gemünd, but the label already says “Klosterbrauerei Mariawald” – and that is exactly where it will be in the future. The reconstruction of the monastery restaurant will not lead to closure. “There will be pea soup every day,” explains CEO Böhnke, highlighting the hearty specialty that has been popular with day trippers for decades.

Long, varied history

The ambitious gastronomic project is to be followed in 2023 by a gradual reconstruction of the heart of the facility, i.e. the monastery itself, which has a long, rich history. An announcement in a display case in the courtyard of the church indicates the most important dates and events. It all started in the late Middle Ages, when around 1470, roofer Heimbacher Henrich Fluitter bought a miraculous painting in Cologne and set up Kermeter at a crossroads in a cabin to pray in the Eifel Mountains. Years later, a wooden chapel was built and donated to the Cistercians of Bottenbroich.

The monks took care of pilgrims and built a monastery. In 1486, the Nemus Mariae monastery, “Las Marienski”, was established, and in 1511 the monastery church was consecrated. Mariawald became a famous pilgrimage destination to Our Lady of Sorrows; the altar with the image of Sorrows was filled with numerous votive offerings. A turning point in 1795 was tragic when the French revolutionary government abolished the monastery. The monks were forced to depart and the buildings fell into disrepair. Fortunately, the carved altar and the miraculous painting were saved thanks to the transfer to the parish church in Heimbach.

At the instigation of the Trappist abbey Oelenberg in Alsace, monastic life began anew in 1861. After the dissolution of the monastery during the Kulturkampf in 1875, the monks returned in 1887. In 1909 Mariawald became an abbey. Under National Socialist rule it was disbanded again in 1941, but the monks returned at the end of World War II and began rebuilding. The decline in vocations and the end of the Trappist monastery in 2018 was unstoppable. Now the focus is on the future.

Conference and seminar house

The concept of future reconstruction provides for a conference and seminar house, to which the guesthouse will be attached. It is not certain whether it will be 50 or even 70 rooms. An existing substance encourages optimism, but also hides unknowns. “Who knows what you might discover when you peel a piece of plaster off the wall,” says operations manager Mauel. When planning, the highest priority is to preserve the cultural heritage and spiritual strength of the place. “In every corner of the house you can feel that a religious community has lived here for a long time,” recalls Mauel and adds: “This aura must remain. Besides, Mariawald is a place of silence. ” It should be added: Unless motorcyclists thunder over the Eifel on a nearby country road …

In addition to the fact that the simple monastery church is open to everyone, as usual, guests of the seminary and accommodation will be able to walk through the two cloisters, find the way to the historic chapter house and descend to the crypt with its altars and chalk-white vaults. “Guests can also sit on the bench there,” Mauel looks straight ahead as he tour. But until then, we’ll have a great cleanup. The two bottles of wine that the Trappists have left in a niche in the crypt area, along with the can of air freshener, are disposed of quickly. And the fact that there are many other contaminated places in the area – from racks and mattresses to plumes and yellowed warehouses – doesn’t really matter. The matter becomes complicated with the conceptual design of the wings of the room.

The monks lived modestly. A room with a bed, wardrobe, table, chair, sink in the corner – that’s it. During the activities related to the conversion, the preservation of the old climate and the adaptation of the new one to the state of the art will be balancing. It is clear to the developers that guests of the future will expect a modern private bathroom as well as standard WiFi. Whether or not televisions will enter the rooms has yet to be decided, but it is likely. It is also clear that in our stressed society, the yearning to slow down and the need for contemplative places is increasing. Mariawald could write a new piece of history in this respect, but not with the Trappists. Perhaps there would be more regular fairs, oracle Böhnke.

“Hot for Mariawalda”

Aside from the reorganization, there would in principle be room for a religious community. “So we hope that the monastery will be resettled by a stable Christian community,” says the portal. According to manager Mauel, another wish is to create a kind of museum space that focuses on the life of the Trappists. The hanging habit from the cloakroom would surely get lost where the muff of years stands.

Spiritually guided proposals should bring a breath of fresh air to the old walls of the future seminary and conference house. Bathing in the forest, yoga and meditation are also possible, says Böhnke, who knows: “I know people who are already hot on Mariawald.”

The printed version of Tagespost supplements the current news on with basic information and analyzes.

Leave a Comment