The monastery

The first contact with Maredsous for the visitor takes place on the esplanade, the place of welcome. For St Benedict, hospitality is a special concern for monks :

"All guests to the monastery should be welcomed as Christ, because He will say : «I was a stranger, and you took me in», and let fitting honour be shown to all, but especially to brothers in faith and pilgrims. Special care should be taken of the poor and pilgrims, for Christ is truly made welcome in them"

St Benedict’s Rule 53, 1-2,15

The welcome which monks extend today is always in the spirit of St Benedict : establishing a genuine contact between the one who comes and the monks who live here.

Beyond the threshold, we enter the gate-house, opened everyday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. There the door-keeper welcomes the visitor and guides him where he wants : guest-house, pilgrimage, contact with a monk. After the gate-house, we enter the west side of the cloister which forms a square of 50 metres each side. It joins together all the buildings of the abbey. In the centre, you can find an inner open space, where a fountain murmurs. The northern side of the cloister leads to the Church.

The eastern side is made up of 2 important rooms which are also very beautiful : the sacristy and the chapter house. We arrive then at the southern side which includes various community rooms and the refectory. The latter is a large room with harmonious proportions, lit by high windows. The monks have their meals there, and guests can participate in the meals. Most of the meals are taken in silence, but at lunch, a monk reads a work of history or spirituality.