The Lost Cathedrals of No-Man’s Land
The extraordinary story of Abbot Francis Pfanner who came to South Africa with 30 men and after 3 years had 350 men building the most astonishing missions and cathedrals.
“There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it; – you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa”
From ‘Cry the beloved Country’ by Alan Paton
This very same road meanders into the mist on crisp, white mornings and when the blanket lifts you can see humble villages dotted across the horizon. Time has stood still in this place where the cows wonder lazily down the roads and children play with sticks in the dirt. The hills are shrouded in peace, simplicity and wood smoke.
It is therefore incongruous to suddenly come upon richly adorned cathedrals with brilliant stained glass and yellow-wood pews. Some monasteries have working water mills, schools, post offices and bakeries and some are still working farms. The structures are a testament to the amazing Trappist monks and their leader Abbot Francis Pfanner, who built these astounding Neo-Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals at the turn of the 19th century.
The ‘Lost cathedrals of no-man’s land’ private tour takes you to some of these amazing buildings and also showcases the Gerard Bengu art museum,, a spring of holy water and other interesting sights.
In addition the story of Abbot Pfanner and the miracle of how all this came about, astounds the most hardened of folk.
INCLUSIONS & EXTRAS PROVIDED
After being collected from your accommodation and a brief history of Underberg and Himeville, start this incredible tour with a visit to Reichnau Mission to see the turbine driven water mill, church and mission station. A private guide will begin the journey to follow one of the most incredible men that history has ever seen.
Then go to Centacow Mission and see the replica’s of the famous Black Madonna originally painted by St Luke on a cypress table top. See this magnificent church built by the Trappist monks.
Stop in at the Gerard Bengu art museum. This remarkably talented artist was born and bred at the Centacow mission.
It is just a short drive to Lourdes that has a spectacular cathedral to add credence to its name sake. The history behind the mission is miraculous. It is named after Lourdes in France for a specific reason.
We then head towards Emaus, which is where Abbot Pfanner’s heart is buried beneath a cross on top of a hill. The stations of the Cross were cut by Pfanner into the side of the hill which is a strenous walk but for those less fit a visit to the house where Pfanner lived out his exile and died.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in the grounds or up toward the grotto.
After leaving Emaus you will start a longer journey to the church which has been proclaimed a pilgrimage centre Kevelaer.
There is a story which is almost beyond belief of the shrine at Kevelaer and the history behind this remarkable Mission.
There is a reason why 16000 people make this pilgrimage to Kevelaer once a year.
Enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea in the grounds of this sacred place.
NO PASSPORTS REQUIRED as the tour takes place in South Africa.
Should you wish to alter the time of departure and/or return you can specify your requirements as this is your private tour.
Should you prefer not to walk please tell us and we will adjust our tour to accommodate your request.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
Bring sunglasses, hats and camera’s.
Contact us on [email protected] or 033 702 1846 for more information.