Tuesday, August 05, 2014

At the Abbey of St Walburga in Eichstatt, Bavaria, Germany

This was the highlight of the European trip. Inserted in the heart of charming, beautiful Bavaria, the village of Eichstatt is pretty, clean, and so well-cared for... You cna walk everywhere to many churches, restaurants, plazas, shops...  Loved by families and nature-enthusiasts who hike, bike and swim, it has been the home of my sister's abbey for over a thousand years! Bavaria was spared in the Second Waorld War so buildings were never destroyed, and the locals are friendly to Americans and grateful for their post-war presence.

After touring the city, we proceeded to visit the Abbey! Below is the history of the Abbey:

St. Walburga: Our Patronness: St. Walburga (d. 779) was born in England of a family of the local aristocracy. At an early age, she was entrusted to the care of the Benedictine nuns in Wimbourne (present-day Dorset) where she eventually made monastic profession. When her relative St. Boniface, a missionary monk and bishop who worked for the evangelization of Germany, asked for help from other Anglo-Saxon monasteries, St. Walburga became part of a group of nuns from Wimbourne who answered the missionary call. Eventually she became abbess of the monastery at Heidenheim, a double monastery of men and women founded by her brother St. Wunibald, who served as its first abbot. The tenth-cetury legend of her life tells stories of her gentleness, humility and charity, as well as her power to heal the sick through prayer.
Many years after her death, her bones were taken from Heidenheim, then in ruins, to the town of Eichstatt, Bavaria, which had been founded by her brother St. Willibald, who served as its bishop. Her relics were entrusted to the care of a community of Benedictine nuns founded for the purpose of maintaining her shrine. To everyone's surprise, her bones began to produce a clear liquid, called oil for want of a more accurate word, which people began to use as a tool for prayer for the sick. Countless numbers experienced healing of body or spirit through her intercession. St. Walburga's oil continues to flow every year from about October 12 to February 25, two of her feast days. It seeps from her relics through a thick slab of stone where it is collected and distributed by the nuns of the Abtei St. Walburg.        (source here)

Mother Francziska, my sister's new earthly mother. I had my eyes so teary as her presence is... almost overwhelming. A beautiful, strong, true, loud and funny person, her holiness is shown in her extreme generosity, hospitality, humility and determination. One doesn't meet such people very often in this life.

We entered through this door to meet many of the sisters! 

One of the non-assuming entrances... you can hardly tell it is a major Abbey of 1000 years! 

For the first part of the visit the girls and were allowed in the small chapel where the nuns pray. We attempted to follow the Divine Office with them... but at that time of the day they chant in German. At Vespers they would sing in Latin which would have been much easier, but it wasn't possible for us to go later.

The thickness of the wall! 

At lunch time, provided for guests in a separate room, our Number Four was served local beer! In Germany he was able to be served beer, and he felt quite dignified at 20 years old. 

Saint Benedict appears everywhere! 

We also met their chaplain of almost 30 years and my sister's dear friend, Fr. Reiter. He calls himself now her "papai" now, since our dear father has gone to the Lord.   

One of the interior buildings

Another interior view

The crypt chapel

Here in the crypt chapel the medieval saint is buried, and it is here that her miraculous oil is collected every year.

The most moving part of the whole tour were the hundreds, thousands of homemade plaques of thanks from the people through the many centuries who received favors and healings from the saint.

Each of them so carefullest, lovingly painted...

Thanking the saint for so many graces!

"Thank You, Saint Walburga!"

"St Walburga helped me!"

"The saint Walburga has helped me..."

Another alter at crypt chapel

The family of saints is displayed everywhere in town, Saint Walburga, her brothers and father!

The girls and I had passed up there to the interior sister's chapel before lunch for prayers.

These items are sent to the Abbey about personal healings. Some are hundreds upon hundreds years old. 
More and more thank you paintings!

We finally got upstairs to the main abbey church! 

It is sooo beautiful! Bavarian Baroque style.

Detail of the main altar painting.

Beyond the glassed in grille of the balcony is the sister's chapel and choir.

Can't have a Catholic church without a gargoyle of sorts! 

Back outside, the Abbey Rose garden.

Young visitors at sunset!

The bells rang the extended Angelus at sundown...

The entrance to our Guesthouse Hotel.

Inside the Guesthouse.

The decor was amazing, all original Work, everywhere.

The hotel/guesthouse plaque

There was another, nicer room prepared for us, but we thought this was the perfect one.
Can't beat Saints Joachim and Anne! 
It was the cleanest, most comfortable, nicest room we've ever slept in. The absence of a TV was icing on the cake. 

The photo doesn't do it justice. The towels were beyond perfection. :-)


Tereza Braga said...

Could never have dreamt of a better report! (is my verb spelled correctly?) THANKS THANKS THANKS !
I finally have a better idea of how everything looks like.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Thank You! It was so so lovely, more than I can describe.

Germaine said...

LOVE!! The Abby is beautiful set in lovely Bavaria. My ancestor who moved from Germany to the USA was named Walburga--many times Great-Grandma. (Oma) :-) Glad you are enjoying your trip.

Chris said...

Enjoyed the pictures. If you visit the Abbey are you able to obtain any of the Walburga's oil?

Chris said...

Enjoyed the pictures. If you visit the Abbey are you able to obtain any of the Walburga's oil?

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

I don't know how I failed to bring some! Next time!

Unknown said...

The oil can be requested via snail mail.

Diana Martin said...

St. Walburga can be requested via snail mail.