Hirsau Monastery, Black Forest, Germany

Hirsau was an important Benedictine abbey, an extensive ground including a graveyard where only few stones have remained. The name proper is St. Peter and Paul, Hirsau as it is known localy, is the name of the village.

Hirsau  was once one of the most important monasteries in Germany. At the time of its construction in the late 11th century, St. Peter and Paul was the largest monastery in the German-speaking area. During the Palatinate War of Succession, the complex burned down (1692) and then fell into disrepair.

Russia: Tikhvin Cemetery, Saint Petersburg

“Ich sehe, wenn ich aus der Stadt, das Haupt gesenkt,

Den Schritt zum Friedhof hin, dem städtischen gelenkt,

Stakete, Säulenreihn, Konsole an Konsole –

Hier fault der Leichenberg der russischen Metropole –

Fein säuberlich in Reih und Glied und recht beengt,

Wie eine Bettlerschaar, die sich zum Tische drängt.“

Fjodor Dostojewski (starb 1881 in Sankt Petersburg)


Many of the famous Russian intellectual élite are buried on Thikvin cemetery. Unfortunately the graves have been moved and regrouped so “the necropolis of Art Masters” feels rather artificial and has no beauty in itself. That changes once you enter the second part, the necropolis of the 18th century. You are charged 400 Russian Rubles for both parts of the walled in graveyard.

brothers in shrouds

Neresheim Kloster (15)They say death is a great equalizer. I wonder if that is true?

Neresheim Kloster (40)True to the core certainly on the graveyard of the Abbey of Neresheim in the far Northeastern corner of Baden-Württemberg, the so-called Ostalb, a cold and sparsely populated region.


Neresheim Kloster (6)Next to the massive but elegant church building, famous for its late baroque design, rest the brothers of the Benedictine order, only 10 are still alive. The last ones of an order that was founded nearly a millennium, the various buildings cover most of the hill above Neresheim.

Side by side, the graves identical only on first impression; under closer inspection the wrought iron crosses show a design that differs from grave to grave, a minute difference granted in death after a life of communal spirit and work, wearing the same habit, following the same habits; all the same.

Did they ever have the wish to be different? Identifiable? Special?

How can you resign from the need to be unique?

Neresheim Kloster (31)Sameness is shelter, is protection, cover. To be exceptional is to be vulnerable.

Maybe this monotony in death is the final peace and safety. For those brothers in shrouds it seems it is.