This monastery is located in Zundert, in the heart of North Brabant.
It was not until 1830 that this province, definitively separated from South Brabant, became Dutch, with the south remaining Belgian.
In this region of Holland the great majority of the inhabitants are Catholic. The proximity and the good reputation of the Abbey of Tilburg explain why, in 1897, a pious lady had the thought of offering to the Cistercians the property she owned near Zundert. The goal was to create a center radiating religious life.
Entrance to Zundert Monastery.
The place was deserted and appeared to offer only brushwood and heather. These abandoned lands seemed waiting for the arms of the monks to become fruitful. Dom Willibrord 1, then Abbot of Tilburg, accepted the offering, but things remained quiet for the moment.
Two years later, in 1899, the benefactress returned and to her land she added a sum of 5,000 florins so that construction could begin without delay. This put trowels in the hands of the founders, and they were not long in getting to work.
The first monk who came to settle in Zundert arrived there on November 2, 1899, the day of the dead, and this date is regarded as the date of foundation. This religious was good Brother Dorothée de Vries. Professed of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, he was one of the founders of Notre-Dame de Koningshoeven, where he had rendered valuable services. A skilled carpenter, he was commissioned to build a provisional wooden monastery in Zundert. To this end, he had taken with him a large part of the giblets from the old “Schaapskooi" of the first monastery of Koningshœven.
In order to enlarge the Zundert estate, Dom Willibrord I bought a small farm (still in existence today) called "De Kievit" on land adjoining that of the property which had been offered to him. But "De Kievit" had a tenant who did not leave until 1904, at the end of his lease.
The abbey (II)
A few days after his arrival, Brother Dorothée received his Superior, the Reverend Father Nivard Muis and Brother Macaire who was in charge of the cuisine. On January 2, 1900, another priest and two lay Brothers arrived from Tilburg. They immediately set about building a stone monastery; the plans were simplified but finally all the regular places were there. On May 24, 1900, it was completed and the small community of thirteen members moved into the new buildings.
The monks in the refectory (1960s)
That same evening, the fence was established and regular Cistercian life began. In this same year, the General Chapter decided that the “barn” of Zundert would become a dependent priory, under the name of Our Lady of the Refuge, in Dutch Maria Toevlucht.
During the painful war years of 1914-1918, the work was stopped. But Zundert still gave hospitality to a good number of religious of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Westmalle, who had been driven from their own homes by military operations.
The turmoil over, the monks got back to work. And on June 4, 1923, Monsignor-Hopmans, bishop of Breda, could solemnly proceed to the consecration of the monastery church. Today, the Notre-Dame du Refuge estate covers around 75 hectares. On September 14, 1938, the General Chapter erected Our Lady of the Refuge into an abbey.
In 2007, Dom Daniël Hombergen was elected sixth abbot. The barn was then closed.
Recently the abbey concluded a collaboration agreement with "Natuurmonumenten" which will help it manage a large part of the domain (68 HA of meadows and woods).
Around 2011, it was decided to create a craft brewery: the Trappist brewery De Kievit.
After many preparations, the plans were made between October 2012 and October 2013. This brewery is built in the old farm buildings. The workshops are also housed in these buildings. In December 2013, the Trappist beer "Zundert Trappist" arrived on the market.
The Trappist brewery De Kievit originally brewed only one type of beer, brewed with “Trappist Zundert Yeast.”
The beer is named after Zundert, simply from where it came from. The beer began to be brewed by Brothers Christiaan and Guido in collaboration with Constant Keinemans.
The first beer produced by the abbey, Zundert Trappist, is a “copper-gold” colored beer, with an alcohol content of 8%. The beer is refermented in the bottle.
Since 2018, the Zundert 10 has been produced. It is a quadruple dark beer with an alcohol content of 10%.