Abtei Maria Laach, © Fotostudio Mooi

The Lily of Laach

Maria Laach belongs to the most famous sights of the Volcanic Park Brohltal/Laacher See. The abbey church of the probably most famous building of the Eifel and one of the most outstanding testimonies of German Romanesque church architecture. The abbey with its own nursery garden and workshops attracts visitors all year long.



After a busy day the monks of Maria Laach gathered in the abbey church for their choral prayers. The youngest monk, who entered the convent at last, first reached his place in the choir room. He got frightened when he saw a white lily lying on his kneeler. It was considered as a sign from the after-world; the one who found it on his place, would be recalled from his earthly presence three days later.

“No, this is too early, I am still so young! Why should I die already now?” he lamented in his fear of death.

He quickly pushed the lily to his neighbour’s place, an old, ninety years old brother. When the almost blind monk noticed the lily on his place, he shouted out loud and an echo could be heard in the basilica:

“My Lord I thank you that you called me. I love to come to you!”

The abbot and the other monks came and they all jointly prayed for a good and easy death. Only the youngest remained silent, because his guilty conscience tormented him. After three days he went to the abbot, to find relief in his confession. The abbot was appalled and said:

“I don’t know how I can absolve you from this heavy burden of guilt!”

It loudly knocked on the door and a monk entered the room and sadly reported:

“God has just taken our brother home!”

The abbot interpreted this as a sign of heaven and it was now easier for him to absolve the young monk, who then prayed all night at the deathbed of the brother and in these quiet hours reflected on his life. If he would not die within the next three days, he promised to dedicate all his strength to the poor and sick people. God was lenient towards the monk and did not take him. This way he could do penance all his life and prepare himself for the eternal life.

The abbot and most of his brothers had already made their last journey, when one evening a white lily was again lying on the kneeler of the meanwhile hoary monk. This time he shouted out loud, full of joy: “Now I found the lily on my place, brothers! It is my turn now! Gracious God, I am coming to you!”

Nobody knew what his words meant, as his deed had remained a secret between him and his former abbot. When, however, he was lying on his deathbed after three days and waited for his decease, he himself disclosed the long kept secret.

Source: Hans-Peter Pracht, „Sagen und Legenden der Eifel“, [Myths and Legends of the Eifel] J.P. Bachem Verlag Cologne, 1994, p. 109-110

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