A thousand years ago, the Benedictine abbey on the island of Reichenau was a center of scholarship. The monks created some of the finest illuminated manuscripts ever produced. But in the early 19th century, the religious community was expelled. In spite of secularisation, the islanders struggled to preserve the monks’ legacy and today Reichenau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Reichenau, in southern Germany, is a popular tourist attraction: an island in Lake Constance with three churches and an impressive history. In 2000, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A thousand years ago, the Benedictine abbey on Reichenau was an influential player in Charlemagne’s empire but from then on, the institution declined. In the early nineteenth century, the monks were expelled and the island secularised. Then in 2001, two Benedictine monks re-established a community on Reichenau. They were joined some years later by two nuns from the Philippines. The Benedictines have been welcomed by the islanders, who have never forgotten the old traditions. Celebrations such as the Feast of the Precious Blood are held only on Reichenau: a living witness to the monks’ legacy.