Mariawald Abbey

Coordinates: 50°37′12″N 06°28′51″E / 50.62000°N 6.48083°E / 50.62000; 6.48083
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Mariawald, Abbey

Mariawald Abbey (German: Abtei Mariawald) was a monastery of the Trappists (formally known as the Cistercians of the Strict Observance),[1] located above the village of Heimbach, in the district of Düren in the Eifel, in the forests around Kermeter, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.[2] In September 2018, the last remaining monks left Mariawald Abbey and the monastery is currently up for sale.[3]



Following Heinrich Fluitter's vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine and chapel were built on the site of it, which became a place of pilgrimage, the Marienwallfahrt. For the proper care of the site and the pilgrim's land was given in 1480 to the Cistercians of Bottenbroich Abbey, who established a priory here, which they were able to move into on 4 April 1486. The new monastery took its name from the shrine to Mary and from the woods in which it was situated: "Marienwald", or "Mary's wood"[1][2][4]

In 1795 the monastery was closed as a result of the French Revolution and the monks were expelled. The image of the Virgin was removed to safety in Heimbach. The priory buildings were abandoned and fell into decay.[1]


In 1860 the priory was re-settled by Trappist monks from Oelenberg Abbey in Alsace.[1][2]

From 1875 to 1887 the monks were exiled because of the Kulturkampf ("cultural conflict") policies of the Imperial German government. In 1909, Mariawald was raised from the status of priory to that of an abbey.[1][2]

The monks had to leave the monastery yet again under the Nazi regime during World War II, from 1941 until April 1945, when the surviving members of the community were able to return. The monastery had to be largely rebuilt because it had been seriously damaged in the war.[1][2]

After World War II, a brewery was run at the abbey until 1956 when beer production ceased, in part due to the availability of water and brewing ingredients.

Present day[edit]

Mariawald Abbey is the only extant men's Trappist monastery in Germany.[5]

The monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the constitution of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance.[6] Visitors can also stay a few days in the abbey's guesthouse, but the parts of the monastery used by the monastic community cannot be visited.[7]

The abbey runs a tavern and bookshop. It also produces and sells its liqueur.[8] In 1997 it was one of eight Trappist abbeys that founded the International Trappist Association (ITA) to protect the Trappist name from commercial misuse. By the end of January 2018 became known that somewhere in the year the abbey would be closed and the monks distributed over other abbeys.[9] The monastery has now been officially closed. However, the tavern and bookshop remain open and liqueur production is still ongoing.

The abbey's motto is Luceat lux vestra ("Let your light shine"), from Matthew 5:16.

In late 2018, the association "Trappistenkonvent Mariawald e.V." was renamed to "Kloster Mariawald e.V.". New members joined this association, and they elected a new executive board.

As of January 1, 2021, Kloster Mariawald GmbH & Co. KG took over the ownership of the association and continued to operate the restaurant, bookstore, liqueur production, and online shipping. The diocese of Aachen announced, that an attempt is to be made to settle a religious community in Mariawald again, which could then use the premises as tenants.[10]

Old Rite[edit]

During the tumultuous 1960s, the abbey embraced the current liturgical fashions. However, in 2008 on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple (21 November), Mariawald Abbey gained from Pope Benedict XVI permission to return to the Old Rite and their original religious discipline. This makes Mariawald unique among Trappist monasteries around the world, in that they adhere to their traditional, strict rule, including the office of the liturgical books in force in the Catholic Church in 1962 (particularly the traditional Latin Mass according to the old Trappist use).[11]


  • Laurentius Wimmer (1909–1929)
  • Stephan Sauer (1929–1939)
  • Christophorus Elsen (1947–1961)
  • Andreas Schmidt (1961–1966)
  • Otto Aßfalg (1967–1980)
  • Meinrad Behren (1983–1992)
  • Franziskus de Place (1993–1999)
  • Bruno Gooskens (1999–2005)
  • Josef Vollberg (2006–2016) from 2017 as prior

Photo gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Abtei Mariawald official website: Geschichte". Archived from the original on 24 July 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e Trappist Info Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, a Trappist directory; p. 26. Accessed online 4 December 2006.
  3. ^ Füller, Christian (18 September 2018). "Krieg der Mönche: Das Ende des letzten deutschen Trappistenklosters". Die Welt. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018 – via
  4. ^ Latin: Nemus Mariae
  5. ^ "OCSO official website directory of monasteries". Archived from the original on 22 February 2009.; there are also two extant Trappist women's monasteries in Germany, Gethsemani at Donnersberg and Maria Frieden at Dahlem
  6. ^ "Abtei Mariawald official website: Unser orden". Archived from the original on 24 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Abtei Mariawald official website: Herzlich willkommen". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Abtei Mariawald official website: Likörfabrik". Archived from the original on 3 June 2016.
  9. ^ Nachrichten, Aachener (23 January 2018). "Ende der Abtei: Kloster Mariawald wird geschlossen". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Ehemaliges Trappistenkloster Mariawald hat neuen Träger". (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  11. ^ "Abtei Mariawald official website: press release, 25 November 2008". Archived from the original on 30 April 2016.

External links[edit]

50°37′12″N 06°28′51″E / 50.62000°N 6.48083°E / 50.62000; 6.48083