The Benedictine abbey of St. Matthias joined the Congregation of the Annunciation in 1980. Since 2004 the Priory of Huysburg in Saxony-Anhalt which had originally depended on the Polish abbey of Tyniec, became part of the abbey at Trier. Since that time, the 26 monks consider themselves as one community in two locations under the leadership of the Abbot of Trier who is elected by all the monks of Trier and Huysburg. The abbot appoints a prior both in Huysburg and in Trier as his local representative. Twice a year a joint chapter-meeting is held, once in Huysburg and once in Trier.
Response to the Gospel
The Benedictine monastery, congregation and order provide, within an institutional framework, space for a life lived in inner, personal freedom, as a follower of Christ. The celibate life aims at being an undivided answer to his call. The fraternal community tries to live up to his commandment, "Love one another, as I have loved you." (Jn 15).
We understand this life as one of the many ways to realize within the Church that to which we are called by Baptism and Confirmation. The non-ordained and the ordained bear equal responsibility as brothers for the calling and mission of the community.
We recognize in the guidelines of Benedictine monasticism the yard-stick for a common life under the guidance of the Gospel, a yard-stick that has proved its worth over the centuries. This helps us in our efforts to reconcile the demands of unity among ourselves with care for the development of each individual, clarity of fundamental options with the demands of life in our specific environment, the final responsibility of the Abbot in his service of leadership with the responsibility of every brother for his personal life, his work or field of competence and the common good of the whole community.
We find support, strength and enrichment on our journey by means of contacts with other Benedictine communities in German-speaking regions as well as in the international context of our congregation. For 50 years we have had a close partnership with the Benedictine womens community at Burg Dinklage, founded in 1949.
In Ecumenical Communion with all the Baptised
As baptised Christians, we know ourselves to be members of the community of all the baptised and we work for ecumenical reconciliation and contacts with all denominations in the unity of the Body of Christ. For four decades we have had a formal partnership with the Anglican Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield in England. We maintain friendly contacts with several Protestant fraternities and communities in Germany. We are active in Christophorus, the ecumenical network made up of communities, orders and fraternities in Eastern and Western Europe. Whenever and wherever possible we involve ourselves in ecumenism on a local level.
Sent to Witness to the Gospel
Our desire is to give witness by the way we structure our lives to the hope that we and all humanity receive from the Gospel. Our attempt to provide a protected space for a community life aims at making openness and availability possible for the men and women of our times and the varous contexts in which they live.
For this reason we regard the fact that our Abbey at Trier is situated in the city with its many forms of ecclesial and social contacts as a positive thing. Beyond our life as a community and our pastoral activities we see the tomb of the Apostle Matthias in our church as a place of missionary witness for people who are without roots in the Christian or ecclesial faith and life. Since the political changes after 1989 we want also to be witnesses to the faith in the secularized environment of the new federal states. This was one of the impulses that led to our unification with the confreres at Huysburg and underlies the exchanges of personnel between our two houses.
Open to and available for Service in the Church and Society
Our openness to the people and the contemporary challenges they face is expressed firstly in the reception of guests, both male and female, who are included in our daily life by attendance at the liturgy and community meals. Another aspect is the daily work of the monks in ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical professions both in the monastery itself (pilgrim chaplaincy and monastery shop) and in the city (a hospital chaplain, a judge, a town-planner). A final element is formed by the services that bring us into contact with our immediate neighbourhood in Church and community: we are responsible for the parish of St. Matthias, we minister to the pilgrims to the tomb of St. Matthias and administer the "Schammatdorf", a project of integrated social housing situated immediately beside the abbey.
Rooted in Tradition
The Place and its History
We are grateful to live in a place where evidences of a long tradition support and carry our life in the faith. The monastery church and buildings an inspiring ambience in and through which this tradition is made present.
Our cloister was added to the Basilica of St. Matthias in the middle of the 13th century. The church itself was consecrated in 1148 by Pope Eugene III and serves today as a burial-, monastic-, pilgrimage- and parish church.
Since the third century, the first bishops of Trier, Eucharius and Valerius, have been venerated in this place. In Roman Trier they were the first of a line of bishops that, having survived the barbarian invasions, remains unbroken to this day. A Roman crypt-tomb in our cemetery contains the sarcophagus of a widow who, according to medieval tradition, made her house available to the first two bishops as a place of meeting for the Christian community. Today, the tombs of these bishops are in the early Romanesque crypt of the church. According to an inscription dating from the fifth century, Bishop Cyrill consecrated an altar here in honour of his two predecessors.
The first impulses towards monastic life in Trier came from St. Athanasius. Following his years of exile in Trier he wrote his Life of St. Antony in order, as he says in the introduction, to make the example of the monks of the Egyptian desert known also, "in the far-flung territories of the Church". Augustine testifies that at the time of his conversion, hermits in Trier were inspired by Athanasius book. In the fifth century a community of monks or clerics settled around the graves of Triers founding bishops. In 977 this community adopted the Rule of Benedict. At the beginning of the 15th century, under Abbot Johannes Rhode (1385-1439), the monastery became one of the centres of a reform that ended in the foundation of the Congregation of Bursfeld. From 1444 Huysburg also belonged to this founding-group of monasteries.
The monastery is the only one of the four medieval Benedictine monasteries in Trier to survive today. In 1922, 120 years after its dissolution in the secularization of 1802 and under the leadership of Abbot Laurentius Zeller the monastery was once more opened by Beuronese monks from Seckau and Maria Laach. In 1941, under Abbot Basilius Ebel the monks were expelled by the Nazis and returned in 1946. However, in 1949, the greater part of the community followed Abbot Petrus Borne to Tholey, while Eucharius Zenzen, first as Prior Administrator and then as Abbot, took over the leadership of the remaining monks, but outside of the Beuronese Congregation. In 1980 the community joined the Congregation of the Annunciation.
Since 1127 the tomb of the Apostle St. Matthias has been venerated here – and the church placed under his patronage. The pilgrimage begun at this time continues to this day, having survived even the 120 years of secularization of the abbey. In the course of the centuries new pilgrim groups and confraternities have constantly been formed. At present about 160 groups come annually on foot to Trier. The pilgrimage usually takes several days and the participants come mainly from the region between Aachen and Cologne. One of the monks gives spiritual guidance to these groups and is responsible for their welcome.
In 1802, under Napoleon, the monastery was dissolved and its buildings and property auctioned off. The church was saved from destruction by the demolition of the small neighbouring parish church and the transfer of the latters title. When the monastery was revived in 1922 the monks took over the administration of the parish. Our church today remains the centre of the parish of St. Matthias, which, following amalgamation with two neighbouring parishes, has 10,000 Catholics.