Town Mouse

The weight of history

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ON Monday night, I found my­self cel­e­brat­ing the eve of the Feast of St Bene­dict with a com­mu­nity of monks in up­per Aus­tria. What more per­fect proof—if proof were needed —that COUN­TRY LIFE can take you any­where? Kremsmün­ster Abbey is now well into its sec­ond mil­len­nium of ex­is­tence and sprawls mag­nif­i­cently across a hill­side. The fes­tiv­i­ties took the form of a bar­be­cue eaten within the shel­ter of a broad, ar­caded gar­den log­gia. As the warm evening closed in, a storm ap­proached across the moun­tains, an­i­mat­ing the scene with flashes of light­ning.

It was a mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion and sur­pris­ing at al­most ev­ery turn. One monk at my ta­ble, for ex­am­ple, re­vealed that he had re­cently made a round trip by train to North Korea.

Later in my visit, I had the op­por­tu­nity of see­ing the great heir­loom of the monastery, a cop­perand-sil­ver chal­ice pre­sented by Duke Tas­silo III of Bavaria. He founded the Abbey a breath­tak­ing 1,250 years ago and was de­posed by no less a fig­ure than Charle­magne. As I mar­velled at this beau­ti­ful and an­cient ob­ject, I felt that some re­ac­tion was called for. All I could man­age, how­ever, was the in­con­se­quen­tial ob­ser­va­tion that it was much heav­ier than I’d ex­pected. JG

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