New monasteries and old ruins

The Catholic Church was forbidden in Norway for more than 300 years, from Lutheran Reformation in 1537 to the first parish again was established in the Oslo in 1843. Today The Catholic Church is the second largest religious community outside The Chruch of Norway (after Islam). And during the last years there are also built four new monasteries in Norway. Two of them close to the ruins of old Cistercian monasteries from the Middle Ages. Like the one above. The monastery ruin at Munkeby in Levanger.

The new Munkeby Mariakloster was established in September 2009, with four monks from France. This is how they describe this themselves on their own website: “Most monastic foundations in the past 50 years have been in Asia or Africa. Why is Cîteaux, with its first foundation since the 15th century, going to Norway, a wealthy, highly developed European country where the state religion is Evangelical Lutheran? And why is Cîteaux, who has more 80-year-old monks than new vocations, founding at all?” The answer: “The Spirit led them to a new place.”

The new building at Munkeby is not yet a monastery, but a building that has made it possible for the monks to live, work and pray. It will later become a guest house for visitors who wish to make a retreat. On the main floor there is a small chapel with worship space for around ten. In the basement is a little dairy plant where they make cheese. A cheese that already have won much fame.

The milk for the cheese, Munkebyosten, is delivered from two local farms, and here are some of the cows that participate. Another farm have a small hostel for pilgrims and other travelers in the old storehouse, and have also developed a local beer, called Munkeby øl (beer).  So the new monks are quite popular by the neighbors.

Not far from Munkeby, at the small island of Tautra there is a ruin of another Cistercian monastery, and a new monastery built after about 800 year. The modern architecture of Tautra Mariakloster have won prizes. Among them the best building in northern Europe in 2007. Arkitects: Jensen og Skodvin Arkitektkontor.

“We are a monastic community, living according to the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by the Cisterican constitutions. Our Cistercian way emphasizes prayer, silence, solitude, community life, manual work and hospitality.”

Queen Sonja of Norway laid the cornerstone of Tautra Abbey in 2003. The first Tautra Mariakloster was dedicated March 25, 1207 by Cistercian monks. The new Abbey is founded by mainly american nuns. The nuns celebrated the special ceremony which made Tautra Mariakloster an independent monastery in March 2006.

The third new monastery in the region of Trøndelag belongs to the Bridgettine Sisters and is built outside the city of Trondheim.

The Order of Our Saviour was founded by St. Birgitta of Sweden and approved by Pope Urban V in 1370. The Order’s first convent was in Vadstena by Lake Vätteren in Sweden, and this was the model for a number of Bridgettine Houses in Europe.

The Bridgettine Sisters started their apostolate in Trondheim in 1998, and the new Bridgettine Convent was opened on 28th August 2009. The church was finished by Christmas 2010.

Like the other monasteries they welcome people for retreat.

I wrote an article about these new monasteries in the newspaper Nationen on the 26th November, but only on paper. You can see more pictures in my web gallery.

I also have a web gallery of norwegian churces, and here is the link.


5 thoughts on “New monasteries and old ruins

  1. That last photo is really special. The dark clothes, the yellow curtains casting warm light, the movement towards the light. I can’t get enough of it!


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