Heimbach and Mariawald Abbey

Hengebach Castle, Heimbach

And since we’ve just spoken of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, in this publication I’m trying to give a sketchy answer to my own question – why in Germany, this ‘beer country’, isn’t brewed the special Trappist beer. Of about 170 Trappist monasteries in the world, there is only one male monastery in Germany –  Mariawald Abbey near Heimbach, along with two other female ones.

Of course, this is not the real reason as Mariastern Abbey in Banja Luka, which is a daughter monastery of Mariawald, had indeed once brewed Trappist beer.

To be allowed to carry on its label the name ‘Authentic Trappist Product‘, there have to be respected some precise production criteria.

Until the 60’s of the 20th century, in Mariawald was indeed brewed beer (which is one of the conditions, that is, the beer must be brewed within the monastery walls), but today the production is committed to the brewery in the famous beer-city Bitburg.

The beginning of the history of the monastery was set by a certain Heinrich Fluitter from Heimbach (his name carries the beer, brewed for the monastery) who just bought in 1470 a Pietà from Cologne, built at one crossing a chapel, and placed it there. So many pilgrims came to venerate that Pietà, that not only Fluitter spent his entire life living in the chapel and welcoming the pilgrims, but his successor erected a wooden church at the place of the chapel and asked the Cistercians of Bottenbroich Abbey to help him in caring for the guests. The Pietà was considered to be miraculous. So, in 1480, the Pieta, together with the church, was given to the Cistercian Order that built a monastery on the site.

In 1520, the Pietà was built into an Antwerpen ‘Retabel’, or an Antwerpen altar, typical for the first third part of the 16th century (I’ve already shown one in the Collegiate Church in Münstermaifeld). In 1804, during the French Revolution, it was saved and taken to St. Clemens’ Church.

Today it stands in St. Salvator’s Church that was in 1981 attached to the building of the old St. Clemens’ Church.

Retabel Mariawald

As late as 1860, Ephrem van der Meulen, a Trappist abbot, purchased the land and let the demolished buildings be rebuilt again. At that time, the monastery became Trappist.

The monastery church. To the left, next to it is the guesthouse.

St. Clemens Heimbach

St. Clemens’ Church, where the Pietà was initially brought, was built in 1725 in the Baroque style.

St. Clemens Heimbach (2)

The picture of the high altar is a work of art by the Dutch painter Pieter Soutmann (1580-1657). It is a reproduction of a Rubens’ painting in the Antwerpen Cathedral.

The side altars serve for exhibiting of reliquaries from the 15th century.

St. Clemens Heimbach (5)

The beautiful Baroque pulpit from the 18th century.

Burg Hengebach Heimbach

Burg Hengebach Heimbach (2)

Hengebach Castle in Heimbach from the beginning of the 11th century. After a fire in 1687, it remains in ruins until the 20th century, when it was restored, and since 2009, it houses the International Art Academy.

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