Yesterday afternoon, I went on a little trip to one of the greatest monasteries in Europe. Or what’s left of it. You see, the Reformation and the Eighty Years’ War left little to speak off from the Cistercian abbey of St. Bernard. On its grounds the village of Aduard sprang up and that town still treasures its ancient monastic heritage. As far as buildings are concerned, only one is left; the refectory which is now in use as the local Protestant church. Underground, shingles and bricks litter the village, and the entire street plan is visibly based on that of the monastery.
I snapped some photographs:
The local church is divided in two by a large screen depicting its original use; ill monks are attended to by their brethren, and in the centre of the image a monk is laid down underneath a cross while other monks offer up prayers for him. In front of this screen lies the original medieval floor:
This part of the church is mostly given over to museum use. It also contains a shrine with the remains of a saint (although no one has checked recently).
Beatus Emmanuel refers to Saint Emanuele, bishop of Cremona (Episcopus Cremonsis) in 1167 and 1168. He expressed the wish to be buried near the abbey church’s altar and many years after the destruction of the monastery complex, human remains were indeed found near that spot. It being 1940, the treat of war led to the remains being relocated to the Trappist abbey in Diepenveen. Years later, the remains were returned and enshrined here, about 300 meters from their original grave. Haec requies mea in saeculum saeculi / Hic habitabo quoniam elegi eam means ‘This is my rest for ever and ever / here will I dwell for I have chosen it’. It comes from Psalm 132.
Inside, the chest containing the remains of St. Emanuele is visible.
Beyond the screen is the actual church. The furnishings are of course Protestant, but the walls and ceiling have been returned to their original state. At one point, they were all whitewashed…
Lastly, some other impressions of the church and the small museum about the history of the monastic centre of this part of Europe.