The church no longer can afford to maintain the building.
Changes are sweeping the globe and after nearly 900 years of operation, the religious institution, the Cistercian Himmerod Abbey in western Germany, is closing its doors due to financial trouble and a shortage of monks.
Founded in 1134 by French Abbot Bernhard of Clairvaux, Himmerod Abbey reached its peak in residency during the 1970s when it housed approximately 30 permanent monks. That number has since dwindled to just six, and those individuals will be transferred to abbeys of their choosing.
It is hoped that the historical site, renowned for its architecture, will not fall to ruin. Officially, the deed to the land will be transferred to the Diocese of Trier, although his plans for the structure and grounds are unclear. The space includes a museum, bookshop, plant nursery and fishery.
According to Himmerod authority, Abbot Johannes, “Himmerod will remain a spiritual site. The walls have retained this history. I am telling you: There is no way to destroy this spiritual place, which has attracted people for centuries. I am certain people will continue to come here.”
The 883-year-old site has been scraping by for decades due to dwindling numbers of religious, whose tithes have helped pay its maintenance over the centuries, even when its strictly religious purpose was compromised. Ancient Origins points out, “the monastery was used during the 1950’s in a distinctly non-monastic capacity, as a secret meeting point of former Wehrmacht high-ranking officers discussing West Germany’s rearmament.”
“Despite the latest closure,” reported the Vatican Radio, “there are still more than 160 Trappist monasteries in the world, with over 2,000 Trappist monks and roughly 1800 Trappist nuns.”
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