Wernberg Monastery in Carinthia, the south of Austria. Thinking back about my recent trip, I think of one thing in particular: The genuine, radiant smile of Sister Monika-Maria Pfaffenlehner. She is a true force of nature, and one welcoming spirit to our community of guests. Lucky, though, if you can spot her, as she is often away on a mountain climb or ski tour.
A Sister with athletic ambitions?!
“Well, yes”, she grins, and her smile widens, pointing to the surrounding mountain landscape of Wernberg Monastery, “our natural surroundings just shape who we are and how we live as a community, both spiritually and physically. My Sisters and me also take care of a small farm that is part of the monastery, a herbal garden, a kindergarten, a seminar centre, a bakery as well as a guesthouse for our visitors. It’s what keeps us healthy, keeps us going”, she laughs now.
Truly, a Sisterhood of a kind. Wernberg Monastery is close enough to the rather famous Carinthian town of Villach, yet does promote its very own vibe of openness, welcome and kindness.
Despite or perhaps because of their busy lives at the former Renaissance palace, all employees and Sisters at Wernberg Monastery are truly taking their time for welcoming guests. There is even one lady employed by the monastery only for guest comfort, a sort of “concierge” if you wish: Karin Hermann, in charge of educational and marketing activities at Wernberg Monastery. Together with Sister Monika, they both happily show us around and let us feel what it is like to be wrapped up in the atmosphere of a true, living monastery. Go check this out.
Smelling all the fresh herbs and recently baked bread, I am quite happy I didn’t choose a fasting retreat here this time …!
Although you may also choose to go on a fasting retreat, I must recommend you to eat and drink while visiting Wernberg Monastery. Their fresh farm & garden produce is just delicious, and includes herbal liqueurs just as much as freshly baked bread, vegetables, meat and dairy products. I still crave a taste of the homemade lemonade that is served during the summer months. Yum! Take me back, please …!
Monika & Petar Fuchs, who post on TravelWorldOnline.de, have also shared about their “monastery retreat” here (including videos!).
Disclaimer: We have been invited by “Klösterreich” to explore the Austrian monasteries in Carinthia. All opinions are my own.