Cistercian Monastery Taking Shape in Czech Republic

Community of Novy Dvur a Sign of Hope for Secularized Land

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MILAN, Italy, MARCH 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The first stone of the chapel of the new Cistercian Monastery of Novy Dvur, in the Czech Republic, will be laid Thursday.



As ZENIT reported Dec. 17, the monastery is an offshoot of the Sept-Fons Abbey in Allier, France. Vocations were awakened in a group of young Czechs when they visited the French abbey accompanied by a priest.

The construction of the monastery is a sign of hope for Catholicism in the post-communist Czech Republic, regarded as one of the most secularized countries in the world.

The Italian newspaper Avvenire has begun a fund-raising campaign for the construction. An elderly priest from Lombardy made a large donation on the condition that the monks come to his home to collect the funds, since he does not trust the post office.

The project is large and donations have yet to cover the costs. There is a long way to go before the buildings are completed in what was once a baroque factory of Novy Dvur, in the heart of the Sudety Mountains forest. Building continued this winter, despite the intense cold in this area known as "little Siberia."

The monks wrote Avvenire that good progress has been made since last autumn.

"We were able to finish the access road before the snows came (otherwise, the trucks would have been stuck in the mud)," they wrote. "At the last minute, we were also able to finish the roof of the south wing. As the snow began to fall, workers placed the slate tiles that in no time were covered by a white mantle."

Once the roof was in place, the workers continued with indoor construction as the temperature dropped to -30 C (-22 F). Seventy workers have been installing the electrical and hydraulic heating system since February.

Architects of London´s John Pawson firm are following closely the resurgence of the baroque complex. The monks also work in construction, donning helmets while continuing to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in a small room with a stove. The community has 15 monks.