Shortage of monks forces abbey closure after nearly 900 years of prayer

A German monastery almost 900 years old will close due to a shortage of men wanting to be monks.

The Himmerod Abbey near the village of Grosslittgen in west Germany is one of the country's oldest prayer houses and was founded in 1134 by the French abbot Bernard of Clairvaux.

WikipediaHimmerod monastery is one of Germany's oldest serving monasteries and has been a house of prayer since 1134.

The Cistercian monastery has just six monks in residence, down from around 30 less than 40 years ago in the 1970s.

Abbot Johannes, the monastery's head, told German media that finances and the low numbers were key factors in the decision to shut.

Now the property will be transferred to the Catholic diocese of Trier and the six remaining monks will move to other monasteries.

However, it is not clear what will happen to the monastery's remaining staff.

The closure is a blow for the wider Catholic Church as well as the Cistercian Order, whose monks under Strict Observance are known as Trappists. As well as those following the Strict Observance other Cistercian monasteries also follow Common Observance or Middle Observance.

Despite the closure, there are still more than 160 Trappist monasteries around the world housing more than 2,000 Trappist monks and around 1,800 Trappist nuns.