Two large churches, two traditions: unity is promoted through the celebration of Roman and Byzantine rites in Niederaltaich Abbey near Passau. Life in the monastery is a balance between solitude and community, contemplation and action, with constant efforts to build bridges between Christians in the east and west.
Even if each set of monks lives their lives according to their own rules and worships separately, despite both groups praying four times a day at the same time of day, Niederaltaich Abbey is the definition of togetherness. Two worlds come together around a holistic philosophy of prayer, working together and spiritual guidance. It is every bit as impressive as the abbey complex itself with the mighty St. Mauritius Basilica, which has shaped the skyline of the Danube in Lower Bavaria for more than 700 years and is one of the most prominent churches in South German Baroque architecture. The exterior is equally as extraordinary as the interior. Bold architecture is interspersed with light stuccos and elaborate paintings. The oval ceiling openings with their railings above the nave aisles are unexpected. The carvings in the sacristy are magnificent. By comparison, the Byzantine St. Nicholas Church appears almost unadorned. The iconostasis, the wall of magnificent icons and religious paintings separating the nave from the sanctuary, is the focal point of the room. The astrological chart on the basilica's south tower – a large stone slab with the horoscopes derived from the constellation of stars when the stone was laid – is one-of-a-kind. It was based on the deep conviction at the time that the work of man is part of the Divine Order and an integral part of its course – a nice idea in a place that seems to be without limits.
Accommodation: rooms in the "Josefshaus" and "Propstei" guest houses
Arrival options: change at Passau Central Station for regional trains/buses to Niederalteich
For information on monastic stays, visit:
www.abtei-niederaltaich.de; abbey shop, "Klosterhof" guest house
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