NOVICE:

Eventually a movement began to gather together the remnants of the monasteries and to revitalise some of them. Remaining in the ruins of the once expansive Cistercian Order, there were 14 Cistercian monasteries in 1859, containing 576 members united together in the Austrian-Hungarian Cistercian congregation, and in 1869 the abbots gathered in Rome to carry out a reorganization of the Order. They issued new constitutions and instituted a general abbot. In 1892, the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, the “Trappists”, seceded, which meant yet another weakening of the Order. Despite the great difficulties they faced, the remaining Cistercian abbeys recovered anew. They even resettled some suppressed monasteries, and founded 6 new convents in the German-speaking countries.
The monks of Wettingen Abbey had been expelled from Switzerland in 1854. They moved to the empty monastery of Mehrerau at Lake Constance on the German-Austrian-Swiss border, and this new monastery prospered and began to expand. It soon revitalised Marienstatt Abbey in western Germany, Stična Abbey in Slovenia, Hauterive in western Switzerland, and the Priory of Birnau in southern Germany. The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s dissolution brought the establishment of the Czech, Hungarian and Polish Cistercian congregations. German-speaking monks, who left Stična after WWI, made an attempt to revitalise Bronnbach Abbey in Germany, but without success due to inappropriate economic conditions. Stams Abbey was revitalised in Tyrol, and the new priory at Mais was founded in southern Tyrol.
A Nazi policy hostile to the Church, as well as WWII in general, caused great harm to all of the monastic settlements. Most of the monasteries were dissolved and expropriated, and the monks expelled. The abbeys suffered not only the loss of material means, but also a great deprival of monks. Following the end of WWII, there also began a persecution of the Church in Eastern and Central Europe. The communists were particularly radical in Czechoslovakia, where they suppressed and confiscated all of the religious properties, while the religious themselves were imprisoned or exiled. Merely Stična Abbey and the Polish monasteries survived, but then only just. In western Europe the abbeys frequently suffered from lack of vocations, so new monastic communities were rarely founded: in Austria however convents were founded at Marienkron and Marienfeld, Heiligenkreuz Abbey founded Stiepel Priory in western Germany, and Zwettl Abbey strived to revitalise Aldersbach Abbey in Bavaria.

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