NL-5056 RP Berkel-Enschot
Kontakt / Contact:
Fax.: 013 544 36 78
Info: 013 5408 508
Lage/How to reach
If you are driving, coming from Breda or Eindhoven on Highway A58, take exit 10 Hilvarenbeek (Tilburg-Oost); then go towards downtown Tilburg (Tilburg-Centrum) (the name of the road is Kempenbaan); after the BP Gas Station, turn right twice (almost a U-turn) (the road “Koningshoeven” will soon turn into “Eindhovenseweg”). This road goes by the Abbey on the way to Moergestel.
If you are driving, coming from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Highway A65 turns into Highway A58 on the edge of Tilburg. Then you can proceed according to the directions above to reach the Abbey.
If you are using public transportation, from the train station in Tilburg, take bus 141 in the direction: Eindhoven. Get off at the bus stop in front of the Abbey Gatehouse (this is the first stop after crossing the bridge that goes over the Canal).
The train-taxi doesn’t come to the Abbey!
Allgemeine Informationen/General information
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. Anyone taking the back road from Tilburg to Moergestel passes by the monastery complex just outside the city limits. Why did monks choose to settle here at the end of the nineteenth century? And how did they fare?
In 1880, 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. At that time, antichurch legislation threatened the existence of French monasteries and the future didn’t look so rosy. The monks of Mont-des-Cats were prepared for the fact that they would soon have to leave France. Actually, it never reached that point, but the situation did become so disturbing that the abbot decided to send one of his monks, Sebastian Wyart, in search of a place of refuge outside the country. Wyart chose The Netherlands, a country which offered hospitality to persecuted religious. He found just what he was looking for in the area around Tilburg, 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 these had once been owned by King William II.
The sheepfold was converted into a temporary monastery and on March 5, 1881, the first Eucharist was celebrated in Koningshoeven, thus making the establishment of the first Cistercian monastery in The Netherlands since the Reformation a reality. Before the Reformation there had been numerous Cistercian abbeys in The Netherlands, primarily in the North, but the rise of Protestantism and the independence of the northern provinces in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries brought an end to these monasteries. To earn their living, the monks began reclaiming and cultivating the poor land in Koningshoeven, but it soon became evident that the costs exceeded the profits. A solution had to be found, especially since more and more candidates for monastic life were requesting admission and the place of refuge became a permanent foundation. When it reached the point that the farm couldn’t provide for the most basic necessities of life, the superior, Nivard Schweykart, decided to start a small brewery. This would be the beginning of the only Dutch Trappist brewery and, to this very day, it is the most important source of income for the monastery.
In 1891, Koningshoeven was raised to the status of an abbey and, under the leading of its first Abbot, Dom Willibrord Verbruggen, began to build a new, imposing monastery. The monks moved into the finished complex in July, 1893, and the temporary accommodation was demolished. On September 17, 1894, the solemn dedication of the Abbey Church was celebrated.
Rather soon after this, in 1900, Koningshoeven founded the abbey 'Mary our Refuge' in Zundert, which grew into a flourishing community. In 1936, at the request of many of their female relatives, the monks began building a Trappistine Abbey in Berkel-Enschot, Our Lady of Koningsoord, the only Cistercian Abbey for women in The Netherlands. Koningsoord in turn has made foundations in Germany (1955) and Uganda (1964). Koningshoeven has also made foundations in Indonesia (Mary of the Fertile Swamp, founded in 1953 and raised to an independent abbey in 1978) and in Kenya (Our Lady of Victoria, founded in 1958 and raised to an independent abbey in 1967).
After the war, the number of young men entering the monastery decreased drastically and many monks left the monastery. The average age of the community increased and the need for nursing care for sick monks and older monks grew. After much deliberation, especially considering the future of the Abbey, the community made a radical decision in 1997: the monks needing the most nursing care went to a Nursing Home for Religious in Vught. This group of monks has its own community life in House Sparrendaal, adapted to their age and their health needs. During the past few years, the monastic complex at Koningshoeven has been thoroughly renovated. The younger group of 16 who now live at the Abbey have chosen to make a new start at the historical place where it all began back in 1881, aged between 24 and 81 years.
To the right of the gatehouse stands the monastery store of the Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven. This store is open to the public. The five varieties of La Trappe beer from the Brewery 'De Koningshoeven' are sold there, as well as matching glasses, which can be gift-wrapped to make the ideal gift. Most of the other articles sold in the store are products made in other monasteries, such as soap, cheese, jam candles and granola. You can also buy liqueur, icons, devotional objects and artistic cards. A good selection of religious books is also available.
From November 1 through April 1, the store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. From April 1 through November 1, the store is open from 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
In Koningshoeven, too, guests can retreat for a few days into an atmosphere of prayer, silence and reflection. This can be done on an individual basis or as a group (maximum 20 persons), who can also bring their own director with them. The Guest House has 29 simply furnished. For groups, there are several (large or small) meeting rooms available.
Silence, which is so important for monks, should be respected both in the monastery itself as well as in the areas around the monastery. For this reason, breakfast and dinner are taken in silence in the Guest House dining room, and silence in general is observed after 9:00 PM. Even though guests do live apart from the monks during their stay in the monastery, the monastic community really wants them to join in the celebration of some of the prayer services, including the daily Eucharist. Click here for the daily schedule in the Abbey. Whoever wishes to receive the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) or to talk with one of the monks can do so.
The monastery is surrounded by woods and farmland where one can enjoy taking a walk. Guests have free access to the woods and to certain areas in the monastic gardens.
Books about conversion, prayer and the spiritual life are available in a small library. With the exception of the big feast days of the Church, the meals are vegetarian. Special diets can be accommodated only to a limited extent.
A stay in the Guest House costs € 40,- per day (including meals). Reduced rates are possible for students and for guests who are unemployed. Guests provide their own towels and bed linens. For groups: the exact number of participants has to be confirmed at least one week prior to arrival. After this date, any members of the group who cannot come are charged 2/3 of the costs of their stay.
For reservations and more information
Our guest administrator, brother Wigbert can be contacted:
- by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- by telephone: +31 (0)13 540 85 08 on the following days:
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 004 pm to 5 pm;
Fridays and Saturdays: 00009.30 am to 10.30 am,
except first Saturday of the month. The guesthouse is closed on Mondays.