The abbey Stift Heiligenkreuz in the Vienna Woods is known far beyond its local borders. Heiligenkreuz was founded in 1133 by Leopold III, a member of the Babenberg dynasty and a saint. It has been a living monastery ever since. Despite the proximity to cosmopolitan Vienna, the monastery lies in a peaceful and secluded valley in the Vienna Woods, surrounded by gently rolling hills and forests of beech and fir.
The monks welcome visitors and guests, and the more than 100,000 tourists who visit the abbey every year! You can visit the grave of the man who kidnapped Richard the Lionheart. And you can breathe in the incense-scented air in the abbey church and marvel at the dancing skeletons in the Chapel of the Dead. Monks live and work here, and they pray the Divine Office every day for the people of the 21st Century.
But most of all, Heiligenkreuz is no dusty museum: it is a living and vibrant monastery. That means that you can hear the monks singing Gregorian chant here, you can attend Mass, you can pray and you can make confession. The monks who were able to celebrate with their Chant CDs worldwide success, do not sing merely for artistic reasons, but the song is a form of prayer, meditation praise.
The melodies go back to the earliest days of the church, and have there ultimate roots in the Jewish Temple Liturgy. The name “Gregorian Chant” come from Pope Gregory the Great (died 604), who founded a chant schola in Rome that collected all the best chants. You can find a lot of information about the monks and the making of the album “Chant – Music for Paradise” here.
Suitable for Kids: 2/10 (small playground at the restaurant)
English availability: 3/5 (English brochure, English tours are available on request)
Access by public transport: 4/5 (direct train to Moedling +bus 365)