|Abbot Dom Josef and Pope Benedict XVI.|
The Trial and Triumph of Mariawald Abbey
(Photo: Daniel Tibi)
Situated on the northern edge of Germany's Eifel National Park and surrounded by gently sloping hills and dense forest, Mariawald Abbey is home to a small but resilient group of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as Trappists. Every morning at 4:15 A.M., the monks rise for Laudes, the official morning prayer of the Church, and the Canticle of Zachary can be heard rising up through the arches of the Abbey's church, resounding well beyond the white walls of the monastery. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated daily, is said in Latin and follows the Tridentine form, virtually unchanged since it was promulgated by Pope St. Pius V (ora pro nobis) in the year A.D. 1570. When the monks retire to private prayers, a profound stillness descends, broken only by the occasional whisper of leaves dancing in the gentle breeze, or by faint birdsong emerging from the depths of the surrounding forest. The kind of peace only Our Lord (miserere nobis) can give is palpably present. To the untrained eye, it would seem as though the Abbey has somehow managed to escape the ravages of the last 500 years. Yet the history of Mariawald Abbey has been anything but tranquil.READ...