Welcome to the Monastery at Tongerlo. Situated east of Antwerp, it was founded in 1128. The abbey is also the site of a Leonardo da Vinci Museum, which contains a 16th-century copy on canvas of Leonardo’s Last Supper, in approximately original size. The copy reveals many details that are no longer visible in the original fresco.
Currently the Monastery is also famous for its Tongerlo beer, but the surrounding moat is in need of clearing and cleaning. International Muscles volunteers from the UK, USA, Germany and Belgium volunteered to undertake the task in early May 2014.
The logistics require careful planning, and members of the UK team decided to combine beer and an English centre of culture (a pub) to hold their February planning meeting.
In April, the second UK team logistic’s meeting also featured gourmet cuisine – the culinary delights of Kesgrave Kitchen.
In addition Phil visited the award winning – Greene King Brewery, at Bury St Edmunds. One of their top beers is named ‘Abbott Ale’. Ahead of the journey to Belgium, representatives from Greene King presented Phil with ‘Abbott Ale’ and assorted gifts to be handed to the Abbott and the Monks at Tongerlo Monastery.
The size and beauty of the Tongerlo Monastery are best represented by the aerial photograph shown below. The area that the Muscles team worked is featured in the top right hand corner, where the row of trees joins the Monastery wall, and then along the line of buildings towards the right hand edge, where a small section of moat is visible.
The project is featured in the May 2014 section of the website, and here is a selection of the Muscles characters who participated during the weekend.
Every Muscles volunteer was presented with a special ‘Tongerlo’ beer glass to celebrate their achievments by the proprietor of Cafe Flierefluiter, situated near the Monastery.
Letter from Brother Gabriel at Tongerlo Abbey, June 2014
Dear Friends of Muscles for Charity,
It is a great honour for me that I have become an ‘honorary member’ of Muscles for Charity, the first since your establishment in 1998.
Thank you very much for the uniform (Muscles shirt), which has already arrived.
Charity was the most important virtue that Jesus Christ taught us: doing good out of love and mercy. The giving of oneself, together with others, in order to undertake good works – I am more than happy to be an honorary member of such a team!
Having sown the seed a few weeks ago, the first sunflowers are now beginning to grow upon the embankment that you so handsomely spruced up in our Abbey. I also hope for a field of poppies and other suitable flowers for the many bees that are at the moment zealously active here in the many lime trees in full bloom; in and around the Abbey one can smell the sweet fragrance of their blossoms. Beekeepers have positioned more than 80 bee hives around the Abbey, and the queen bees together with their cohorts put their ‘muscles’ to work in order to pollinate all the flowers.
Dear friends, as a Priest I entrust you all to the Charity of God. May the Lord bless you, your families, your neighbourhoods, and everyone with whom you come in contact with throughout the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada, Germany, and my own dear homeland of Belgium.
Until we meet again,
Fr. Gabriel Goossens
Tongerlo, Belgium 22 June 2014