Westvleteren (abbey Our Lady of St. Sixtus)

- History of the abbey - the foundation

The first years of the foundation were difficult. A great number of trees had to be felled, after which a tough, wet ground required clearing. In 1833 the community was composed of 11 monks; it grew to 23 in 1835.

The Monastery of Our Lady of Saint Sixtus depended on the monastery of Le Gard, which had founded it; but on April 22, 1836, a pontifical decree set up Westmalle as an Abbey, and all the Belgian Cistercian Monasteries were subordinated to it. The new monastery received several monks from Westmalle and in particular the one who became its second prior, Dom Dosithée Kempeneers.

In 1838, Dom Dosithée decided to create a brewery and on June 15, second-hand brewery equipment was purchased. In 1850, Dom Dosithée accepted the offer of a new foundation, which was requested by the Prince of Chimay, and sent some monks to Forges-lez-Chimay to found the abbey Our Lady of Scourmont. In 1871, Saint-Sixtus, still only a priory, was set up as an abbey. The first titular Abbot, Dom Benoit Wuits, stayed only for one year. He came from Westmalle, and was quickly recalled there to succeed their late abbot. Thereafter, several abbots led the abbey, which knew the two wars and theirs torments without being diverted from its original goal. Today, between twenty-five and thirty monks reside at the abbey.

The motto of the abbey is “Beata Solitudo, Sola Beatitudo” (happy loneliness, solitary beatitude). This reminds visitors that the vocation of the abbey is mainly oriented toward prayer and meditation

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