Steyl (NL): SVD cemetery

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Sometimes you don’t need to travel far to come across interesting places. Growing up in Tegelen (Limburg, NL) I was of course familiar with the neighbouring village of Steyl but I never realized how special the place actually is. Steyl is somewhat squeezed between the river Meuse and the German border. The history of Steyl has been quite often defined by those borders as the Meuse has a habit of flooding every now and then, and  Steyl’s proximity to Germany has made it an ideal base for the foundation of German monasteries during the so called Kulturkampf.  And at the end of WWII Steyl ended up right in the frontline between the retrieving Germans and the advancing allied forces (British and American).  

Steyl, rightly goes with the prefix ‘Kloosterdorp’ (village of monasteries) as the cloisters are numerous and quite prominent. In the late 19th century various Roman Catholic congregations founded religious institutions in Steyl when they were no longer able to do so in Germany when the von Bismarck government and the Roman Catholic Church clashed from about 1872 to 1878, predominantly over the control of educational and ecclesiastical appointments. Monastic orders were abolished and deported.

German priest Arnold Janssen – who was canonized in 2003 –  founded the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), a Catholic missionary congregation, as well as two congregations for women:  the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (1886) and the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (1898).

When Janssen died in 1909 he was laid to rest in the chapel in the SVD cemetery of St. Michael’s Mission House. Since his beatification in 1975 his embalmed body was moved to a tomb in the lower church where it can easily be visited.

Pictures taken by dr. Claudia Venhorst, Steyl February 15 & 25, 2020.

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