Saturday, July 24, 2010


A bit of breaking news to report. While I and about a dozen monks from Einsiedeln were away this past week in northern Switzerland (more on that later), one of the most severe storms in recent memory hammered the central part of the country. One of the areas hit hard was Einsiedeln, and it left quite a bit of damage in its wake.

The storm hit around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday just as the monks back at Einsiedeln were beginning Vespers. At Freudenfels in northern Switzerland where we were, we heard the news about 6 p.m., shortly after Abbot Martin—who had been with us for the week—received a phone call. He immediately left for home with Br. Anton, who is knowledgeable in responding to such matters. The rest of us were not due to leave until Friday afternoon.

Einsiedeln was primarily affected by severe hail (or hagel in German), though there was also quite a bit of wind and rain. The hail was so thick and pelted the area with such intensity that it shattered between 200 and 300 windows in the monastery cloister and surrounding buildings—mostly those on western facades. The pictures I have posted were taken when I returned Friday evening after most of the damage had been cleaned up, and the broken windows taken out or covered—thanks to many monks and employees who stayed up late into the night Thursday. Cloister hallways, many rooms, and the surrounding grounds had been littered with glass and debris.

However, none of the windows in the church itself were broken—not one.

The storm also caused some roof damage, and broke out windows in many vehicles. Similar damage was also reported in the town and surrounding area. Thankfully, though, no one was hurt. Obviously, windows can be replaced.

The hailstorm (or hagelsturm) did make a mess, though, and from what I hear was quite a spectacle. The monks said that as Vespers began Thursday, it was extremely dark, and they could hear the wind pick up. The hail hitting the building was so loud that they had a hard time hearing the organ. Afterwards, as they finished singing the Salve Regina and processed into the cloister, they found the hallways and many rooms covered with broken glass.

Outside, the hail was so large and plentiful that it resembled snow (the last photo is taken from the Blick news website, which has many shots of the destruction). On Friday afternoon, some of the hailstones were still visible in the monastery garden.

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