Mariannhill lies in a densely green, intense Landscape swept by Forests and sheltered, leafy Neighborhoods outside Durban, on the outskirts of Pinetown. The Monastery was founded by Trappist Monks in 1882, as a Catholic Mission and now boasts an impressive display of Architecture and Design. Beautiful Frescoes adorn the Cathedral ceiling and light streams through stained glass windows. In addition to this, the Monastery is well known for its Organic Produce including: milk, cheese and yoghurt. You can stop at the Monastery and enjoy a delicious lunch in their Tea Garden. The menu ranges from light snacks to heartier fare - sit in the shaded Garden and relax to the Monks chanting in the background. Despite being close to the Industrial parts of Westmead, the Monastery may as well lie Centuries, in the past. Enter its grounds and you are immediately transported out of the fast-paced World and constant nagging Elements of Modern Society.
A trip to the Gardens, Tea and Vegetable Gardens and Monastery, is a boost for the soul. The old Buildings, slowed pace and peaceful surrounds are without fail a balm to the soul, and one does not need to be here with Religious intent to benefit! Experience has produced, a choir of incredibly talented young Musicians was enough to establish the Mariannhill Monastery, as a cherished memory!
Mariannhill Monastery was Founded in 1882, by Trappist Monks who created an impressive collection of Architecture, Craftsmanship and Design. (Trappist Monks, are a contemplative Roman Catholic Religious Order; following the rule of St. Benedict, and a branch of the Cistercians). They speak only when necessary and idle talk is strongly discouraged – even meals are usually taken in contemplative silence whilst they listen to a reading. The silence is not a restriction however, but rather a wish to give space to what matters. There are thought to be around 170 Trappist Monasteries in the World. Which is Home to 2500 Trappist Monks and 1800 Trappist Nuns!
The Cathedral is a play of light, as rays of sun pierce stained glass windows and bounce from the ceilings filled with Frescoes. The interior invites a moment of two of silent contemplation, whatever your Spiritual Beliefs are!
Set in the midst of this embellished simplicity, is a Garden; where tables are artfully set in the shade of giant Umkhulu Trees. Every now and again there is the distant sound of; Gregorian Chants which are practically inaudible which suggest peace, rather than an intrusion! It also helps to sets the tone of the garden and inspires those who visit here. It’s a perfect little piece of Heaven, in which one just happens to also get a good meal! A range of enticing home-made food includes muffins, vegetarian meals or rye open sandwiches. Vegetables and salad comes from the Vegetable Garden,supplies fresh organic salad leaves and herbs not only to the tea garden at the monastery, but also to restaurants in and around Durban. the rye bread is baked by the Nuns, at the Jabulani Self-Help Scheme, who also produce plain brown bread for sale to the local community, and the milk and yogurt is from the monastery’s own, two Dairy's. The cheese is produced on the opposite side of the Valley from the milk, by the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Both are produced Organically and cows grace effortlessly on rather steep Hills. There are also a series of Workshops here where crafts, including candles, are produced.
The monastery has an interesting History. By all accounts Prior Franz Pfanner, who then became Abbot, and who led the order was incredibly strict and the vow of silence was held by all! But, as inevitably occurs when extremism is involved, an uprising led to his being suspended and a new order began, that went on to establish Missions Stations around the Country and the World. It was also very active in the fight against Apartheid, particularly with regards to the Group Areas Act. But it is the silence and the essential tranquility, that seems to be innate in every form and almost engulfs the surroundings! "This makes Mariannhill Monastery so incredible!" There are tours available; that includes lunch and many of the Buildings, the beautiful private Gardens, the Cathedral, Vestments, Church, and the Museum.
A Blog written about Mariannhill: "I’m looking at the incredible interior of the church of the Monastery of Mariannhill and realizing why, despite its being Years since last I was here, it had such a profound effect on me as a 16-year-old. During my third year of High School, I sang with a Choir that recorded Franz Schubert’s Mass no 2, in G whilst standing, within this sanctuary! It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. The sound we managed to evoke in this place of God was not only incredible, it was impressive and, as young people only beginning to form opinions and views on the World. I felt I had touched something within and without that I would endeavor to recreate again and again in my life."