When we arrived at the hotel yesterday, we learned there was a regional power outage, so to all our loyal followers, you will see two posts today! We started our day at Park Abbey. Four Norbertines from Laon founded it in 1129. Park Abbey is known for its 17th century stained-glass windows depicting the life of Norbert, 41 in all. After the French Revolution, the Norbertines had to sell the windows to survive. They are in the process of purchasing them back from private collections and museums around the world. So far, 21 of them have been returned to Park. They are currently being studied and restored, but it was so exciting to be able to see five of them. As you can see in the photos, the abbey is currently undergoing major renovations, so it would be great to go back in four or five years to see it in its completed state.
We hopped back on the bus and headed to Grimbergen for lunch at their restaurant and a tour. Founded in 1126, it’s best known in the U.S. for its beer, which is currently brewed by Carlsberg group. They recently found their original Norbertine recipe for beer, and are starting a microbrewery. The first beer should be ready in 2020. In addition to the restaurant, they have a guest house and retreat center on site. The church was spared during the French Revolution, but the Norbertines had to flee. In 1831 they resumed communal living, and in 1951 they founded a priory in Cape Town, South Africa. They currently have 17 members, 11 of whom live at Grimbergen.