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Friday, January 2, 2015

50 Years Ago: A Cold House of God

40 years ago: Father Oliver looks on as the president of St. John's University
(Fr. Michael Blecker, OSB) and the director of HMML (Dr. Julian G. Plante)
break ground for the future home of HMML's microfilm collections.

Fifty years ago, Father Oliver Kapsner, OSB, was taking a short break from his travels and celebrating Christmas at the hospitable abbey of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. This interlude marked the break between the heavy activity of visiting several monasteries in a relatively short time and the actual start of microfilming (with the need for a staff and the camera set-ups).

In a letter to Father Colman Barry, OSB, dated January 2, 1965, he reported the following from the comfort accommodations at Einsiedeln:

"Christmas was nice, and I enjoyed some desired peace and rest. Outside it looks much like Minnesota, with two feet of snow on the ground and crisp winter air, quite in contrast to November-December weather in Austria which could offer only fog, drizzle, snow and slush. In fairness I should add that the grand hospitality experienced everywhere in Austria, by the guestmaster, abbot and monks, helped considerably to offset the persistent miserable weather. My room here at Einsiedeln is warm, being centrally heated, but the huge church is completely unheated, and, brother, it is a cold house of God. The monks say all the Divine Office there. In Austria the Office was always said in some small room in the monastery; the big church was used only for Mass and Vespers on Sunday.

"I will be here till Jan. 8 at least, but mail will be forwarded from here to my next address, in Austria, I hope. Incidentally, my command of German was a handy asset in Austria. Even my white hair, or what is left of them, helped to make a favorable impression."


Father Oliver at the Schottenstift (Vienna, Austria) in the 1960's.

 Next up: Putting the technology into place to start microfilming (January-March 1965).

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