Video: Beer-making monks' prayers answered

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/25/2005 7:31:42 PM ET 2005-08-25T23:31:42

This was no ordinary day, even for a Benedictine Abbey that has survived 1,400 years, including damage in the Napoleonic wars.

As Father Thomas walked thru the cloisters of the Weltenburg Abbey today, he saw more firemen than monks.

Overnight, there the raging waters of the Danube River were rising by the hour. By noon, the rushing water had already flooded the ground floor kitchen and dining rooms used by the monks.

Father Thomas knew a massive flood could destroy its famous church, full of Baroque masterpieces, and even worse, the jewel that attracts many of the Abbey’s half million visitors a year: its beer.

Since 1050, Weltenburg monks have been making beer to make money. These days, Weltenburg beer has become one of Germany’s favorite brews, making the abbey a must-see stop on any Danube River tour.

Throughout the afternoon the tide kept rising, sodozens of firemen and forklifts were quickly called in to fortify a makeshift flood wall with sandbags. Despite the efforts, the Danube kept rising.

But then— finally— prayers seemed to be answered.

At 4 p.m., the Danube river peaked at just over 24 feet, not enough to trigger a disaster. But no one here pretends to know what this abnormal weather will do next, least of all, Father Thomas, who has more earthly concerns: like, re-opening the beer garden.

“The flood will not enter the brewery so the beer will have the same quality!” he says.

And even if the forecast calls for rain, the priceless art, and the beer are safe — for now.

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