Triumph and Tragedy; the story of Trappists in South Africa.
From the author.
After a long career of guiding tours through the Battlefields of KZN, I retired to the southern Drakensberg to write ‘Field Guide to the Battlefields of South Africa’. With that successfully completed, my zest for exploration of our beautiful land came once more to the fore, and I discovered the spectacular, neo-Gothic churches of a bygone era, that stud the rural, southern Drakensberg foothills.
The story behind these architectural masterpieces was even more fascinating than the structures themselves, and it wasn’t long before I was on a quest to find out more about their remarkable founder, Abbot Francis Pfanner.
In a remarkably short space of time during the 1890’s, he set up successful mission churches, mission schools and productive farms where hundreds of poor people were trained in not only academic but also technical skills such as boiler making, wagon making, book binding, iron work, carpentry, stained glass work and more.
That Abbot Pfanner managed to do this all within the strictures of the silent Trappist order, was nothing short of miraculous.
It is this story that inspired the book, a guide to 22 Trappist mission churches set in lonely splendour, fitting tributes to the virtue of the motto Ora et Labora (prayer and work) by which the monks lived. Their method of teaching was by silent example, and its effectiveness if proven by the results it reaped.
Abbot Francis Pfanner’s influence is highly relevant today, as modern society destroys itself with a deadly barrage of words and information, while neglecting the inner voice of wisdom, that is accessed only through silent contemplation.
Adams Bookshop, Musgrave
The Little Church, Van Reenen
Mariannhill Monastery Repository
or direct from the author.
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