A life of devotion

Stories of the Abbey of Clervaux with Father Michel Jorrot and Brother Henri Delhougne

A life of devotion, in the incredible maze of the Abbey of Clervaux. In 2021,  11 monks are still living in the huge building overlooking the region. They are less than before : about twenty monks were staying there few yaers ago, and about sixty a generation ago. « In 2016, the separation between the Church and State has turned things upside down. Before that, priests and all Catholic men were considered as public officials, under the aegis of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. With, of course, the financiel security that this status brings. Henceforth, if the oldest priests are still public servants, the youngest ones doesn’t benefit anymore from this security. Municipalities, for example, are free to give or not a home for their priest. So, we have to find other ways of earning a living."

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Hostelry is doing well. About twenty rooms are open all year long inside the Abbey for men. Women, on the other hand, benefit from another hostelry 100 meters away the Abbey. The monks welcome people for spiritual retreats but also students during the exams, which came here for the quiet between the walls. During the day, hosts are free to participate in worship. « But everyone eats together and at the same time ! » Some of their surroundings land are rented to local farmers and the monks are produicing some apple juice. They also have a small shop inside the Abbey where visitors can find souvenirs and handicrafts. They also receive some donations. « Often inheritances from single people. These inheritances help us to maintain the building in a good condition or restore certain work of art. »

Fate’s blessings

« We are often very lucky. As with this painting of Saint-Benoit displayed in the refectory. An american diplomat, close to the former President Bush, fallen under the spell of the painting, has propose us during a visit to take care of the renovation. The painting has left the Abbey for London during few weeks. At this time, we were thinking that the painting will never goes back here… But it came back. Saint-Benoit was beautifully restored with a golden frame, elegant and discreet, and bright new colors. »

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Stories in the great history

Stories, the monks of the Abbey have some. At the cemetery, a statue of the Blessed Mother and her Child attracts attention. She gently watches over the deceased. « She seems so soothed. But when you look closerm you can see some traces of bullet raffles, received during World War 2. During these troubled times, the Abbey was requisitioned by the german troups. Our community went into exile in France. When we were back, the buildings was ransacked and partially burned. Even the tower had suffered from the rage of the troops. The tip had been cut off and the building looked more like a fortified castle than a place of worship. »

Once a month, the monks organize a visit of the Church and the crypt, where you can find an exhibition of the monastic life. This is the opportunity to listen the countless stories that thse walls have seen pass through the ages.

 

The Benedictine Abbeys are generally closed to the public. For now, the only way to visit the inside of it is to (be a man and) book a spiritual retreat in the hostelry, for 40 euros per night with all meals.

If you do so, don’t miss the chance to visit the library. Built on 3 floors, the collection of historitical books is spectacular. Close to Rome, the Abbey of Clervaux has always been evolved in Bible transcription projects. Their most praised work remains the liturgical and scientific transcription of the Bible. This version makes the biblical texts more comprehensible to all, thanks to rewriting and scientific annotations. It is also easier to pronounce, while remaining faithful to the original.

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Believer or not, visiting the Abbey is a real dive into monastic life and our contemporary history. The daily mass at 10 am is a real experience in itself, with the monks singing magnificent Gregorian chants.

Info: Next guided tours accompanied by a monk: Monday 1 March, Monday 12 April, Monday 3 May. The visit begins just after the daily Mass at 10 am. Reservations required until the day before via or +352 92 00 72

The crypt and the church are open to the public every day.

Opening hours of the shop:

Weekdays:  2.30 - 5.30pm

Saturday/Sunday : 11.30am - 12.30pm and 1.30 - 5.30pm