Mondaye France

Informative Information

Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph, Orange, CA

Tongerlo Abbey again surrounded by water

Our Liqueurs, Frigolet Abbey, France

Saint Siardus history at Tongerlo Abbey, Belgium

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46).

Thank you for visiting our online Monastery Gift Shop, containing select items from our little Monastery Gift Shop/Bookstore located at our Priory in Tehachapi, California. As a young and growing Norbertine community striving to be increasingly self-sustaining, we are deeply grateful for your support.  “May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you” (Numbers 6:24-25).  And may the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Magnificat be our song of joyful praise always.

The vestments around Tongerlo Abbey have been honored. Thanks to well-considered interventions on the canals and along the banks, aesthetics, nature restoration and water storage are combined. The icing on the cake is a new wheelchair-friendly walking path: the Witherenpad.

Place of tranquility and reflection

The new vestiges convey the tranquility that the Abbey of Our Lady of Tongerlo has stood for since 1130. In addition, the drainage in the vicinity of the Lourdes Grotto was also reconsidered. This has been empty regularly in recent years. This should have been rectified.

“The whole of the sustainable reinforcement of the banks contributes to the beauty and opening up of the abbey landscape in which tranquility takes place, where visitors are guided through the greening via a new walking path and the rainwater irrigates the abbey fortresses”, says Abbot Jeroen De Cuyper.

Walking along the Witherenpad to the ramparts of Tongerlo AbbeyWalking along the Witherenpad to the ramparts of Tongerlo Abbey

Recovery thanks to the Merode Land Land Development Project

In the spring of 2021, the Flemish Land Agency started the repair work in collaboration with the abbey. On April 26, a final shot beam was finally put in place, allowing the weir to do its job. Recoverable baffle bars allow from now on to better regulate the water supply and thus the water level in the vests. In the event of heavy precipitation, the vests also form a water buffer in the fight against flooding further on.

The project is part of the Land development project de Merode of the VLM , an investment project that has been running for more than 10 years in the Merode area. The works around the abbey were carried out in collaboration with the local population, the municipality of Westerlo, the province of Antwerp, Bosgroep Zuiderkempen and Onroerend Erfgoed.

In addition to financing from Flanders and the abbey of Tongerlo itself, funds from the municipality of Westerlo , Onroerend Erfgoed and the Province of Antwerp could also be called upon .

The history of Frigolet is certainly attached to Reverent Father Gaucher ; the story of the invention of his elixir delighted many readers of “Lettres de mon moulin” by Alphonse Daudet. The true story of the liqueur has little to do with this kind fantasy. There was indeed a liquorist brother who entered the Community when the Community was founded, Brother Callixte Gastinel, but his official function was ‘Portier’ (in charge of the abbey’s gatehouse). The liqueur, on the other hand, was only made for a few months in 1858.

Here is the account given by the review of the abbey in its December 1869 issue (page 878) concerning the publication of Daudet’s short story:

“We only made liquor eleven years ago for three months, and although this liquor had nothing but goodness, it could provide us with the time resources we still need and that, thanks be to God, none of the brothers who took care of it abused it, we abandoned it for the reason above all that we were not then numerous enough to make it advantageously without exposing the regularity of our community which we prefer from much to every possible temporal advantage. »

In 1922, after the disastrous exile of some twenty years, subsidies had to be found. Father Adrien Borelly had then used his talents as a herbalist to develop an elixir, bringing to life from 1933 a product that had not existed until then but whose advertising was already done.

Today, the abbey perpetuates this famous tradition, acquired in spite of itself, by offering three liqueurs whose production is entrusted to the Eyguebelle distillery. 

They offer all the qualities of an entirely natural artisanal elixir.

As for their eldest from 1858, we can say of each of these liqueurs: 

“She has nothing but beneficent” :

the Liqueur des Prémontrés (43°) is presented in 70 cl and 35 cl bottles and in 5 cl miniature bottles,

Verveine des Prémontrés (53°) is available in a 70 cl bottle,

the Norbertine (42°), the queen of liqueurs, exists in 65 cl, 50 cl or in a 5 cl mignonette.

Alcohol abuse is dangerous for health. To consume with moderation

As a youth, Siard, a descendant of a highly aristocratic Frisian tribe, grew up in the shadow of the Norbertine abbey of Mariëngaarde. He went to school there and after a while also received the cloister from the hands of Abbot Frederik van Hallum, another saint from our order.

During the twenty years that followed, Siardus lived as an ordinary monk in the Garden of Mary ( Ortus Mariae , Mariëngaard). The hagiographical texts give us few details about these years. They do sing the praises of Siardus’ exemplary monastic life and especially describe how – in the spirit of his time – he molded his mind and body through strict ascetic practices and shaped it according to God’s will. An old Dutch saint’s life from the 17th century called him a Spieghel der deughden for his fellow brothers. The devout reader can no longer wonder how Siardus, after the death of Abbot John, was unanimously elected fifth Abbot of Mariengaard (1194).

Before the abbot, Siardus was the gardener of Mary’s Court. He was not afraid to roll up his sleeves and help his fellow brothers where it was needed. When the Brothers in the Field or elsewhere were at d’werck, the Salighen Vader was also there, cooperating with one of their people, and praying. In the harvest he helped to gather the grains and the sheaves with someone else, meanwhile teaching with his assistant some Psalms of David or other devotional prayers with exaltation of the deer.
Also with regard to food and drink, table communion and clothing, Siardus liked to share as much as possible the lives of his confreres. To the hagiographer they were obvious signs of his humility and sine oodtmoedicheydt.

What made Siardus especially a saint was his love for the poor and the small. Hospitality and generosity were certainly not empty words for him. He did charity most when he was on a journey: he took a good supply of bread and other provisions with him, which he then distributed to the poor and needy along the way. It is therefore this facet of Siardus’s holy life that most influenced iconography. After all, we regularly see him depicted with a (basket) of bread in his hands or in his lap. Sick people who came knocking at the monastery gate could also come to him and were often cared for by him with his own hands. All this earned him the nickname “Father of the poor”.

Of course, miraculous events have also been attributed to Siardus, as to any saint. They are described in scents and colors in the hagiographies about Siardus. It is because of these miracles that Siardus is invoked for eye diseases and cattle diseases. Pregnant women ask for his help for a smooth delivery and young mothers pray for his protection. An old Flemish song sings it like this:

Through his assistance people often get
Aldaer genesingh van sijn sieckt and quael.
The devil flees from his forecast,
That mother who cares after him in her birth,
That is redeemed, And all those who queen
Geraecken hasten to a better path because of him.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Frisian people must have been rather rough and short-tempered. A people with a stubborn and irascible character. Often it was head to head. Often there was bloody contention or disagreement. Siardus is therefore told how he was able to reconcile the most hostile. Hearts hardened by hatred and envy he knew how to make love again by his gentleness, an appropriate word or some gesture. During his lifetime he is said to have been nicknamed the Mighty Peacekeeper.

His attention to the concrete poor and his real participation in ordinary life did not absorb all of Siardus’ time and attention. He also proved to be an excellent manager of his abbey and community. Under his abbacy, for example, the further expansion of the abbey progressed with giant leaps. He acquired extensive estates, whether or not by donation. After all, Siardus had become a valued and respected man in Friesland. The many people who had become his friends over the years must have contributed to the raising of the necessary funds. On one of those estates, in Bakkaveen near Drenthe, he founded the new community of Mariënhof. At first it was no more than a grangia, a courtyard inhabited by a few lay brothers and priests. But later this small community would grow further and in the further course of time also produce its saint: St. Dodo.

Nademael de Heylighen Father Augustine says that he cannot die properly and that he may well have lived and that death is the echo of life; soo and there is no doubt that the Salighen Father Siardus has had a heyligh ende gheluckich eynde. Indeed, Siardus died as he lived, on November 13, 1230.

Throughout the story of many miracles in which he was close to people, Siardus is invoked for eye diseases, cattle diseases, for a prosperous birth, for protection of young mothers and children. Also in reconciliation and peace Siardus made a name for himself.