The Sound of Silence
Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Europe’s largest Cistercian Monastery, lies behind protective walls, less than half an hour’s drive from Vienna. With 900 years of uninterrupted history of monasticism, Heiligenkreuz is both a tourist attraction and a deeply spiritual experience.
Founded in 1133, the monastery which has been inhabited ever since by monks, seems surprisingly young at heart. Of the 83 brothers who live here, most are well under 50 years old. And more than a few of them found their way to the monastery via the internet. The brothers use social media to reach as many people as possible and introduce them to their heritage and their philosophy, which is to appreciate the qualities of the age and yet to live unchanged according to Abbey’s traditional religious principles and monastic rules. The Cistercian order demands discipline, work and obedience. Severity is their standard, evident as much in the architecture as in their way of life and their robes.
Visitors can stay at the Abbey as a regular guest. However there is a “fully immersed” experience on offer for boys (aged from 16) and men who would like to learn more about the Saint Benedict order. They can stay for at least four days on the “Kloster auf Zeit” program, where they live with the monks, completely integrated into the Abbey’s rhythm of worship and work. Please contact Subprior Pater Martin Krutzler for more information: email@example.com
Cistercian monks are immoderate only in their love of God and prayers are their bridge to heaven. The brotherhood gathers several times a day to praise God in the form of a Gregorian chant, sung in unison and without accompaniment, an act designed to restrict individuality and strengthen the community. Visitors are welcome to listen and bear witness to a medieval ritual full of symbolism and ceremony. Those wishing to stay in the monastery must observe the rule of silence, because silence is holy here.
Heiligenkreuz itself is a place of pilgrimage on the Via Sacra (Holy Road) which runs from Vienna to Mariazell. In the Middle Ages the Popes furnished this place of pilgrimage with a cross reliquary. Since 1983, the cross reliquary has been on permanent view in the Kreuzkirche. Many people make a pilgrimage to Heiligenkreuz, to draw strength and to receive the sacraments, in particular the sacrament of penance.