Cold winter light is streaming through the ancient windows of Beuerberg Abbey. It plays on the wood of the empty choir stalls, shimmers on the bronze hand bell of the prioress. Everything is quiet and ready for the next prayer.
But this bell will likely never again break the silence of these walls. The last nuns of Beuerberg have left. The monastery, founded in 1121, today stands empty in the snowy landscape of the Alpine foothills.
“Oh, this is not the end! On the contrary,” said Sister Maria Lioba Zezulka, prioress of the Visitandine order, flashing a smile. “This is a new beginning on several wonderful levels! And not just for the refugees who may soon have a home within these walls.”
Sister Lioba and the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising have worked a deal to house refugees in the abbey. They hope that, within a few months, families from Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and other conflict zones can find a home here.
“Until then, we need to get a lot of building permissions and works organised,” said Gabriele Ruttiger, head of strategy and organisational development for the archdiocese.