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La Trappe | by Bernt Rostad
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La Trappe

Information board about the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven at the Trappist exhibition at the Hopmuseum in Poperinge, Belgium, in October 2013:



For more than a century, the towers of the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven have formed a significant element in the landscape east of Tilburg. This is the only Dutch Trappist Abbey where Trappist beer is brewed.



The foundation of the Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven is an immediate consequence of the French Revolution and the anticlerical attitude at that time. In 1881, the Trappist community of the Catsberg (France) was looking for a safe haven if the situation would go wrong. The abbot sent one of his monks (Sebastian Wyart) in search of a place of refuge. He found just what he was looking for in the area of Tilburg, near the little town of Berkel-Enschot: An area of open heath with several small farmhouses and a sheepfold. The local people called the area 'Koningshoeven', the King's Farmhouses, since these had once been owned by King William II. The sheepfold was converted into a monastery and on 5th March, 1881, the first Eucharist was celebrated, thus making the establishment of the first Cistercian monastery in The Netherlands since the Reformation a reality. Eventually, the monks from the Catsberg Abbey never had to go into refuge in Koningshoeven.


To earn their living, the monks began reclaiming and cultivating the poor land, but as costs exceeded the profits, Dom Nivardus, the first superior, decided to start a small brewery. This meant the beginning of the only Dutch Trappist brewery and to this very day, it is the most important source of income for the abbey.


In 1891, Koningshoeven was raised to the status of an abbey and the building of a new imposing monastery was begun. The monks moved into the finished complex in July 1893.


Rather soon after this, in 1900, Koningshoeven founded a daughter house in Zundert. In 1936, at the request of many of their female relatives, the monks began building a Trappistine Abbey in Berkel-Enschot, Our Lady of Koningsoord, the only Cistercian Abbey for women in The Netherlands.


After World War II the number of young men entering the monastery decreased drastically. The average age of the community increased and the need for nursing care for sick and older monks grew. After much deliberation, the community made the radical decision to move the monks needing the most nursing care to a Nursing Home for Religious in Vught. During the past few years, the monastic complex at Koningshoeven has been thhoroughly renovated. The younger group of 16, aged between 24 and 81 years, who now live at the abbey have chosen to make a new start at the historical place where it all began back in 1881.


As the monks are nowadays less involved with the brewing process, they looked for other meaningful monastic and traditional labour. A monastery store was set up where handmade products are sold: bread, creamy butter cakes, chocolate and chocolate truffles with a filling of Quadruppel (Quatruffel).

The income of this store and of the brewing activities is used to maintain the buildilngs and for daily life. The abbey also supports poor people at home and abroad and for her daughter houses in Uganda and Indonesia.

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Taken on October 2, 2013