Koningshoeven Abbey: Tilburg, The Netherlands
For more than a century, the towers of the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven have formed a significant element in the landscape east of Tilburg in The Netherlands. In 1880, when antichurch legislation threatened the existence of French monasteries, Dom Dominicus Lacaes, abbot of the Trappist monastery Sainte-Marie-du-Mont on Mont-des-Cats in northern France, became concerned about the fate of his monks. The Netherlands offered a refuge near the little town of Berkel-Enschot: an area of open heath with several small farmhouses and a sheepfold. The local people called this area 'Koningshoeven' (The King's Farmhouses) since it had once been owned by King William II. In 1881 Koningshoeven became the first Cistercian monastery in The Netherlands since the Reformation. In the early years, the monks discovered that farming the poor land could not support them, and so they started a small brewery (the only Dutch Trappist brewery), still the most important source of income for the monastery. As an authentic Trappist brewery, business at Koningshoeven is guided by Father Abbot Bernardus, who oversees every aspect of the day-to-day operations. Bernardus' is the final word on packaging, recipes, and image, and his daily involvement ensures that the entire brewing staff remain mindful of the special place in which they work. During the past few years, the monastic complex at Koningshoeven has been thoroughly renovated for the group of 16 monks now living, working and praying there.