Gerleve Abbey was founded by the monks of Beuron Archabbey. The community, dedicated to Saint Joseph, was established in 1899 on the farm given for the purpose by the Wermelt family. It was formally declared an abbey in 1904. The first abbot was ordained in 1906, Raphael Molitor OSB. In 1941 the community was expelled from Westphalia by order of the National Socialists, but the monks were able to return in 1946.
There is a graveyard in the abbey grounds, where among others there are buried Russian prisoners of war and deceased patients from the military hospital which occupied the premises in World War II.
Several of the monks are active in scholarly work; others work in pastoral care and the care of guests. There are two retreat-houses close to the abbey.
The Haus Ludgerirast offers room for up to 47 people taking part in different courses, seminars or retreats, of which there is a wide choice. Many people also spend their holidays near the abbey.
In the Haus St. Benedikt education centre (Jugendbildungsstätte) there is room for about 80 young people from all kinds of schools, for students or for family-groups with children (there is a playground nearby). There are also rooms for groups attending one-day events (lectures, retreats, meditation groups and so on).
The abbey itself can house about 10 (male) guests making retreats or wishing to take part in the community life of work and prayer.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.