I know it’s been a few days since part 1, but this is a good Sunday topic, and fits well with today’s thoughts and activities too.
When I left off, we had just visited the Abbey museum and headed for the library. The Benedictines live their monastic lives by St. Benedict’s rule, and the motto “pray, work, read.” Thus, the library is of critical importance. Guests are able to view only a couple rooms of the library–most of the 100,000 volumes are reached by means of a spiral staircase open only to the monks. Guests are not permitted to take photos in the library (the guide only had to repeat this about 10 times after she told us before we went in), so you’ll need to look online to appreciate the ceiling that looks much higher than it actually is (very impressive illusion).
As noted in part 1, the tour does start at 10:55 for a reason. The guided portion of the tour terminates in the church–just in time for midday services. No “touring” of the church is permitted during this time, so you either sit down and listen/participate or conclude your tour. We chose to sit down. The order of the service is completely (and helpfully) typed out, though completely in German. Thanks to some years of study of German and more years of attendance at Mass, I was able to make out 80-90% of what was said over the course of the 15-minute service. There were only about 5 or 6 monks present at the midday service, of the 15 who are (according to our guide) at the Abbey full-time. As attendance is not optional, one presumes that the others were either engaged with teaching the Abbey’s students or too infirm to get to the Church. Not surprisingly, the average age of the monks in attendance was quite high. What was surprising to me was that the Melk Abbey, in all its size and splendor, has never been home to more than 99 monks at one time.
Size and splendor reminder:
After services and viewing the church, we had lunch at the Abbey’s pleasant restaurant. The local apricot soda was a highlight and the food was quite tasty.
The restaurant is located along the walkway between bus parking and the Abbey, so many bus loads of tourists (mostly from the plethora of river boats plying the Danube) passed us by. We were surprised that the restaurant was uncrowded–perhaps they all eat on their boats.
We actually spent a little more time in the gardens after lunch, far exceeding (overall) the recommended 2 1/2 hours to visit the Abbey.
On our way to acquire groceries for the next day’s ride, we happened upon a photo exhibit “WoMen at War” in the lobby of a city building. Part of the WWI centenary, it told stories of women’s contributions to the WWI effort in Austria. It was one of those exhibits that makes you realize just how fortunate we are to live in this time and with so many privileges and conveniences. We were pleased to see that the exhibit was presented in English as well as German (it would otherwise have been a quick visit). Most of the explanatory text and captions were well translated. However, when we reached the 8th and final panel, we found the English to be almost incomprehensible. We laughed and figured that they ran out of time and/or money or “forgot” to send that portion for editing.
We whiled away the rest of the afternoon with ice cream and coffee (together in one glass for me–yummmm) in a cafe that provided free wifi without the smokiness of our hotel.
A good day…