the last guest

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This post is about a day in Engelszell Abbey. I drink beer with Pater Christian and learn that the abbey is about to be shut down.

“Stay as long as you like,” Pater Christian had told me, “hospitality is the way of the Trappists.”

a quiet day

So I stayed for a whole day in the empty guesthouse of Engelszell Abbey. I had a whole apartment with a communal room, a kitchen, several bedrooms and bathrooms all to myself. Nobody was there. So I did my laundry. Walked around in the quiet corridors. Went back to the church to light a candle. And had more beer with Pater Christian.

the end of something

And I learned that these were the last days of Engelszell Abbey. Over the course of the last 100 years, the number of monks had gone down and down, and they had gotten older and older. By now there were only a handful of monks left in the abbey, and two of them were over 80. So in May of this year, the Order Of Cistercians Of The Strict Observance (a.k.a. the Trappists) had ordered the abbey to shut down.

There was a sense of sadness in the air. What would become of the church building and who would take care of Victoria, the pile of bones? Caritas had a large social service operation on the premises of the abbey. What would happen to that? And what of the beer and the liqueur? Surely the beer would have to cease using the name Trappist beer?

And where would the monks go?

the last one

It was at some time in the afternoon as I was sitting in the church yard with a beer when Pater Christian came to my table, sat down, and sighed.

What’s on your mind? I asked him.

“We just received notice that from this Sunday on we are not allowed to accept any guests anymore,” he said, “this means that you will probably be our last guest, ever.”


a day in Engelszell Abbey:

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