Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, Lower Austria, Austria, on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River, adjoining the Wachau Valley.
“Melk Abbey is one of the biggest and most beautiful European Baroque ensembles. I ts splendid architecture is famous worldwide and part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage [Sites]. The Baroque building situated on a rock overlooking the Danube, in the Wachau region, ranks as one of Austria’s most visited art-historical sites. Since 1089, Benedictine monks have continually been living and working in Melk Abbey. Following the rules laid down by St. Benedict, they try to translate into action the words ORA et LABORA et LEGE (pray and work and learn) by working in pastoral care and education (Melk Abbey Secondary School) as well as organizing cultural events.
“ORA et LABORA et LEGE – PRAY, WORK, LEARN
“In a way, this is the Benedictines’ motto: the whole human being is challenged to contribute everything possible to the community which is searching God. Body, soul and spirit merge to have a meaning of life which isn’t limited to this world, but leaves room for everything that goes beyond it. Because of this Saint Benedict tells his monks to glorify God in all things, not only through their prayer, but also through their work and their daily willingness to learn. “Never stop beginning”: this is the ultimate goal to come clean with oneself, with others and with God and to lead a fulfilled life.” — www.stiftmelk.at/englisch/
The present Baroque abbey was constructed between 1702 and 1736. The abbey survived through the reign of Emperor Joseph II (when many other Austrian abbeys were dissolved) and the Napoleonic Wars and confiscation by the state following the Anschluss in 1938; the school was returned to the abbey after WW II. It now serves approximately 900 students of both sexes.
“The library is the second most important space in any Benedictine monastery, the first being, of course, the church. he most important Baroque masters were commissioned with the artworks: Antonio Beduzzi for interior design, Johann Michael Rottmayr and Paul Troger for the frescos and altarpieces, Guiseppe Galli-Bibiena for the pulpit and high altar, and Lorenzo Mattielli and Peter Widerin for sculptures. It is no surprise that the beauty of the church is breathtaking, as is the view from the semi-circular exterior terrace looking out over the Wachau Valley.” — www.austria.info/us/activities/culture-traditions/architectural-highlights-in-austria/melk-abbey-a-baroque-jewel
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