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Brecht Abbey, also known as the Abbey of Our Lady of Nazareth, is an abbey of Trappist nuns located in Brecht, in the Campine region of the province of Antwerp (Flanders, Belgium). Life in the abbey is characterised by prayer, reading and manual work, the three basic elements of Trappist life.

Early history

In 1236 the nunnery of Our Lady of Nazareth at Lier (Duchy of Brabant) was accepted into the Cistercian Order (Saint Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268) was its first prioress).

For five centuries the abbey flourished, until 1797, when it was closed in the aftermath of the French Revolution, when France occupied the Austrian Netherlands. The abbey did not recover from the closure even after the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium gained independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Modern history

In the early twentieth century several attempts were made to re-establish the abbey at different locations. During World War II in 1943, Henri van Ostayen was in favor of locating the new abbey in Brecht, of which he was burgomaster, but was killed in Antwerp by a V-1 flying bomb before the end of the war. His proposal was however taken up by Robertus (Edward Jozef Modest) Eyckmans, abbot of the nearby Westmalle Abbey, who obtained the agreement of Soleilmont Abbey to provide the community of 13 nuns necessary to settle a new foundation. On 12 October 1945 the organization for founding a new abbey was established, and in 1946 about 16 hectares of land were acquired in Brecht for the new building, as the old site in Lier was no longer available. The monks of Westmalle Abbey prepared the site of the abbey, which was ready by the end of 1949.

Thirteen nuns left Soleilmont and headed for Brecht on 23 June 1950: Agnes Swevers (Abbess), Lucia Delaere, Heleen Steylaers, Humbelina Roelandts, Idesbalda van Soest, Lutgard Smeets, Maria Marlier, Petra Belet, Juliana Rutten, Harlindis Gerits, Roberta Koeken, Alberica Hauchecorne, and novice Roza van den Bosch. They entered the convent on 25 June 1950, which on 3 February 1951 became an abbey. The church was dedicated on 22 October 1954.

Brecht Abbey founded Our Lady of the Redwoods Abbey in 1962 in Whitethorn California (USA)[1] and in 1970 the Priory of Our Lady of Klaarland in Bocholt (Belgium).




  • Van Remoortere, J., 1990: Ippa's Abdijengids voor Belgie (pp. 72-75). Lannoo
  • Cassianus, J., 1985: Brecht, Abdij Nazareth

External links

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