Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spirit and fire

All the monks of Einsiedeln under the age of 60 are required to be members of the Abbey’s fire department—unless other assignments dictate otherwise. The Abbey’s fire department also has civilian firefighters, including the current chief. In the event of a large fire at the Abbey, the town’s fire department also pitches in.

On a warm Wednesday afternoon, about a dozen Abbey firefighters—mostly monks—held a training exercise at a facility about 40 minutes away in the town of Schwyz (the capital of the Swiss canton to which Einsiedeln belongs.) I tagged along not only to watch part of the training, but also to do a bit of exploring in the area and see more of the spectacular mountain views which are so commonplace around here.

There are a number of structures at the training facility to simulate real firefighting situations, and the flames are controlled by a flow of gas. I stood at a safe distance taking some pictures. In the top photo, a trainer guides two monks battling a field of flames. In the second photo, Fr. Cyrill steps up, ready for duty.

Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a snack of Swiss sausage, cheese, and bread—even the photographer, who did none of the work!

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