Monastery holiday at St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal in Carinthia
Like a monastery vacation in the Benedictine Abbey of St Paul in Lavanttal Carinthia looks like, we wonder. We are invited to experience this for a day. We have been in several times monasteries to guest. One thing became clear to us. Every stay in a monastery is different. That depends on the type of monastery. The Order plays a role to which the monastery belongs. And of course, the people who live in the monastery, such a stay. It is the same with St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal. Here we introduce to you, what our monastery vacation in Benedictine monastery St Paul in Lavanttal makes something special.
Our monastery holiday in the Benedictine Abbey of St Paul in Lavanttal
The Lavant Valley in Carinthia
What immediately strikes us is how beautiful the Lavant Valley is. It's a quiet region, perfect for a monastery vacation. Our navigation system takes us down country roads away from larger towns into the valley. The first glance shows how fertile this valley is. Just a few meters further on, a sign on the road indicates that we are here in one of the pleasure regions Austria are located. Apple cider is produced in the Lavant Valley. My first thought is: "We have to come here at the time of the apple harvest." I particularly like the orchards that we see on the trip to St. Paul. After our arrival at the abbey, we quickly realized that it wasn't just apples that made the valley prosper. There is also wine here. Livestock farming also plays a role and you grow asparagus. We can try it at lunch in the monastery.
If you want to stay outside the monastery, this is possible:
Food in the refectory of the monks
We arrive at the monastery at noon. For the Benedictines this means that the midday shore takes place in the collegiate chapel at 12.00 p.m. The entire daily routine is based on the daily prayers. Guests are welcome. The first takes place at 6.00:XNUMX a.m. "The number of guests is usually limited," laughs Father Maximilian. What amazes us is that more guests than monks attend the midday prayer. Later, Father Maximilian Krenn, the monastery administrator, said: "We expect our guests to show a certain interest in the processes in the monastery." A vacation like any other is not a monastery vacation in the Benedictine monastery of St Paul in Lavanttal. For this we are allowed to dine with the monks in the refectory of the monastery for the first time.
This monastery holiday gives us an interesting insight into life behind monastery walls. At the same time we get personal contact with the monks. Our image of the life of the monks in the seclusion of the monastery collapses completely when our young table neighbor asks us at dinner: “Do you like jazz?” To my astonished look he replies: “Tonight there is a jam session in a local restaurant . ”This is a tip that I would never have expected from a monk's mouth.
We are just as surprised how we eat lunch. The table in the refectory is covered with pure white tablecloths. Next to each plate there is a perfectly folded cloth napkin. Also pure white. You can drink wine from the monastery vineyard or mineral water. “The wine is only available on special occasions,” Brother Maximilian explains to us later. But the food that three monks serve exceeds all expectations. It has nothing to do with a meager meal behind monastery walls. On the contrary! Father Nikolaus cooks here. With passion! He taught himself how to cook and process the monastery products. During our monastery holiday there is asparagus cream soup, char with vegetable julienne and green noodles and a cheesecake with fruit sauce that tastes simply delicious.
Dinner and breakfast
Our dinner is more like what I imagine by monastic food: there is a smoked trout from a breeder in the valley. In addition freshly baked bread from the monastery kitchen. Butter and a selection of cheeses complete the meal. Father Maximilian serves us beer or water to drink. At both meals, one of the young monks reads passages from the Bible. We also learn that the time to eat is limited. It is only served after a small bell rings. This also ends the meal. A day in the monastery is subject to precise rules. The order of St. Benedict of Nursia "Ora et Labora (et Lege)" still determines the daily routine in the monastery.
We do the same as the monks and follow Father Maximilian into the gardens of the monastery. These lie below the rock cone on which the collegiate church and the monks' residential buildings stand. There is the baroque garden with its garden palace, which was designed by the Italian master builder Pietro Rudolphi. The monastery café is located in one. The garden is laid out in geometric shapes. You can hardly find flowers in this park. Instead, there is a fountain in the center of the garden, the splashing of which, together with the green of the lawns, has a calming effect on us visitors.
Hidden behind hedges is the “Hildegardium”, the monastery’s herb garden. The beds are grouped around a round bed in which plants flourish wildly under a fruit tree and berry bushes. Herbs grow in it, which are used in the monastery kitchen. The Benedictines were trained as monks in the care of herbs. Centuries ago they used it to make medicines that played a role in the history of pharmacy.
In Petar's video you can see us on our Walk through the collegiate gardens consequences.
Father Maximilian explains life in the monastery to us
The best way to enjoy the abbey gardens is in the abbey café. The terrace offers a beautiful view of the baroque garden and the monastery. Here Father Maximilian answers our questions. He tells that he was only elected administrator of St. Paul's monastery by the monks of the monastery a few months ago. He is originally from Gottweig Abbey in der Wachau.
"I'm known as an administrator because the abbot of St. Paul Abbey has resigned from his post halfway through his term of office due to age," he explains. Only when he takes over his position as head of the pen on a permanent basis does he give up the title of administrator. He is currently head of the monastery on a “probationary period” basis. We learn that every Benedictine monastery is different from others. “There are not the Benedictines per se, but the Benedictines of the St. Paul Monastery, or the Benedictines of other monasteries.” Each Benedictine monastery organizes its life in a different way.
We are surprised how young the monks at St. Paul Abbey are. “Only the retired abbot is over 80 years old. The next oldest monk was just celebrating his 50th birthday. “The people we talk to, who we get to know at meals and while walking through the monastery, are in their mid-thirties or younger. Each of them has their own area of responsibility. Father Nikolaus is responsible for the products of the monastery and their processing. Brother Maximilian looks after the guests. He manages the monastery library and the museum of the monastery. Father Maximilian is the director and managing director of the monastery and decides how the future will look like for the monastery.
Abbey library, museum and collegiate church
After this conversation, other duties await Father Maximilian. We continue our tour through the monastery with Brother Maximilian Tuschel, who shows us the monastery library and the museum. This turns a monastery holiday in the Benedictine Abbey of St Paul in the Lavant Valley into a real pleasure of art.
The Abbey Library
In the monastery library, the monks keep between 70000 and 100000 books (the details vary) that they have collected over centuries and that were created in monasteries. Among them are 4000 manuscripts from monastic scriptoria. St. Paul Abbey is the only place in Austria where visitors can follow the development of the art of writing from the 5th century to modern times. This treasure trove of monastic knowledge is housed in a library, which uses the latest technology to ensure that these works are protected and preserved for future generations.
Follow us in Petar's video on our visit to the Abbey library of the Benedictines in St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal.
The monastery museum
From the monastery library we get to the museum, where we see exhibits from the history of the art of writing. I discover illuminated manuscripts that were created in the writing rooms of the monasteries. Some of the old book covers take our breath away. There is one who is adorned with red velvet and silver fittings. Another is made of pure gold. Another is decorated with a detailed carved ivory relief. In the museum you will find paintings by Rubens, van Dyck and Breughel. We discover the Adelheid Cross from the 11th century.
We learn a lot about the spread of Christianity in the region. A map shows how Irish monks made their way to Carinthia. On another, we see how the Benedictines traveled from St. Blasien in Switzerland to St. Paul. A monastic model shows us the great plans the abbots of the past had with the monastery. However, these came about only partially. Such as the plan to expand the monastery in the style of the Spanish Escorial. You have done only a part of it. The levies that the Austrian imperial family demanded from the monastery were too high.
The collegiate church
Third in the alliance of magnificent sights on the summit of the Felssporns in St. Paul is the collegiate church. Originally the end of the 12. Built in the 18th century, the lower part of the building still clearly shows the Romanesque architecture in which it was built. A fire in the year 1367 destroyed the roof of the church. You can clearly see the Gothic structures on the Romanesque substructure, which were then added. The equipment of the church comes mostly from the 18. Century.
The rooms for a monastery holiday in the Benedictine Abbey of St Paul in Lavanttal
The overnight stay in one of the guest rooms of the abbey concludes our monastery holiday in the Benedictine Abbey of St Paul in the Lavant Valley. These surprise us with their size and amenities, but we have a large living room, a bedroom and a bathroom. Monastic cells are reminiscent of the upholstered furniture in the living room, the comfortable bed and the large wardrobe in the bedroom and the spacious bathroom. We are accommodated in rooms where the monks let their guests spend the night.
In addition, there are pilgrim quarters in another building of the monastery, which are simpler equipped. They are cheaper.
The monastery shop
Before we say goodbye the next day, we visit the monastery shop. Here we can see which products Father Nikolaus produces from the products of the monastery. These include Klostersekt and Klosterwein as well as schnapps from the surrounding fruit. Frater Maximilian tells us goodbye.
Pilgrim ways for a monastery holiday in the Benedictine monastery of St Paul in Lavanttal
Pilgrimages are becoming increasingly popular. St. Paul in Lavanttal has some ways to go:
- The Benedict Trail from St. Paul to Sentjanz pri Dravogradu (Slovenia)
- The Benedictweg from Wolfsberg to St. Paul
- On the Romweg from St. Andrä via St. Paul to Völkermarkt
What you need for a pilgrimage
- Comfortable hiking boots You should definitely wear, because some of the trails are long and often lead uphill over long distances.
- A backpack do you need to get drinks and a snack for picknick to take with you on the go. You can also store your jacket in it if it is too hot. One Lunch box with board and other practical utensils for hikers can be found here.
- Think of one Raincover on the go. The weather can change quickly on longer hikes in the mountains.
- The same goes for one sun hat, During hikes you are often exposed to the sun for a long time.
- Check with our Hiking checklistwhether you have packed everything you need for your hike.
A monastery holiday in the Benedictine monastery of St Paul in Lavanttal is a relaxing and varied experience. Anyone who gets involved in the way of life of the monks, gets interesting insights into the life behind monastery walls. The only thing we regret is that we did not meet Father Nicholas in person. Instead, we were allowed to taste his delicious food, heard about what he made of the fruit and the wine of the monastery. However, a meeting did not materialize because he had other obligations. A reason to once again visit the St Paul Abbey? In any case.
If you would like to experience a monastery holiday in the Benedictine monastery of St Paul in the Lavanttal, please contact this address:
Mainzer Straße 1
9470 St. Paul in Lavanttal
(T) +43 4357 2019-54
More Slow Travel Destinations and Experiences in Carinthia:
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- We are Lesachtal in Carinthia
- Sankt Lambrecht Hiking - Slow Travel in Styria
- Romantic: the Benedictine abbey in Stein am Rhein
- Cistercian Monastery Heiligenkreuz
- Heiligenkreuz Abbey and Mayerling Castle for connoisseurs
- Lilienfeld Abbey - Abbey library, monastery and gallery
- Weissensee in Carinthia - a real insider tip in Austria
- Your Top Restaurant Weissensee Carinthia - Which kitchen do you prefer?
- The legendary Gold of the Tauern in Heiligenblut
- Hohe Tauern by car - the Grossglockner High Alpine Road
- Monastery Wernberg Carinthia - from Brennesselschloss to guest monastery
- Discover Carinthian specialties on holiday in the Gailtal
We would like to thank Father Maximilian for the friendly welcome in the St. Paul's Abbey in Lavanttal, Our heartfelt thanks go to Frater Maximilian, who brought us closer to the cultural treasures of the monastery. And we thank you Klösterreich for the invitation to this interesting blogger trip to the treasury of Carinthia.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Videos: © Copyright Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline