The Slovenia Times

Two Slovenian Cistercian monasteries win European Heritage Label

Part of the Cistercian Monastery of Stična. Photo: Aljoša Rehar/STA

Two Cistercian monasteries are the latest Slovenian sites to win the European Heritage Label, a title awarded by the European Commission to what it says are milestones in the creation of today's Europe.

Seven sites were picked for the title this year, including Cisterscapes - Cistercian Landscapes Connecting Europe, a project bringing together 17 Cisterian monasteries in Europe.

Apart from the monasteries in Stična and in Kostanjevica na Krki in Slovenia, it also involves those in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland. Germany filed the bid for the EU heritage award.

Stična, 35 km southeast of Ljubljana, is now the only active Cistercian monastery in Slovenia, part of which is home to the Slovenian Museum of Christianity.

It was founded in the early 12th century by Aquileia Patriarch Peregrin as a subsidiary of the Rein monastery near Graz as the oldest monastery in present-day Slovenia.

Due to generous gifts, it acquired a large estate and was for centuries a leading religious and economic centre in Carniola, the historical name of much of Slovenia.

The Spring of St Mary Monastery in Kostanjevica na Krki, in the southeast, was active between the early 13th century and 1786, when it was closed as part of Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II's reforms.

It has since served various non-religious purposes, being turned into an art gallery in the 1970s, named after painter Božidar Jakac (1899-1989).

The monastic complex was declared a cultural monument in 1989. During a recent visit, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko announced €2.8 million in funding for a major renovation.

The former Cistercian monastery at Kostanjevica na Krki, now a gallery. Photo: Kaja Šoštarec/STA

The two Slovenian institutions have collaborated on the southern leg of the 6,300 km Cistercian trail, which unites all 17 Cistercian monasteries in Europe.

The southern leg starts in Kostanjevica na Krki. Next month, the two institutions will mount an exhibition on the legacy of Cistercian monks in Europe.

The Cistercian monastic order, derived from the Benedictines and founded in Burgundy in France in 1098, spread widely throughout Europe, especially Central Europe.

The European Commission says the Cisterscapes network has "a historic pan-European nature" while it contributed to European history and integration and helped shape some of the European values, such as the balance between unity and diversity.

The ceremony at which the new sites will formally receive the European Heritage Label is taking place in Antwerp, Belgium, on 17 April.

European Heritage Label is awarded to buildings, areas, museums, archives, monuments or events which celebrate and symbolise European ideals, values and history.

A total of 67 sites have so far won the title, four of which in Slovenia.

Apart from the two Cistercian monasteries, the emblem was earlier awarded to the WWII Franja Partisan Hospital (2015), the Church of the Holy Spirit on Javorca hill (2017) and Zdravljica (A Toast), a poem written by Romantic poet France Prešeren (1800-1849) whose 7th stanza serves as the lyrics for Slovenia's national anthem.


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