Kornelimünster (Germany)
Keeper: Bernd Herzogenrath
Status: Letterbox installed

In the year 814, St. Benedict of Aniane founded a cloister and a church on the banks of the River Inde. Norman's destroyed the church in 881, and a new church was erected on the old foundations. This church treasures the relics of Pope Cornelius – hence the name Kornelimünster (Monasterium Sancti Cornelii, Monastery of St. Cornelius). In 1802 Kornelimünster becomes a part of France, and in 1815 of Prussia. Since 1946, it is part of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.
Today, the building of the former abbey houses a museum for ‘Kunst aus NRW’ (Art from North-Rhine Westphalia).

Turn your back on the main entrance of the museum (though don’t turn your back on art!), To your left, across the street, you can see a small bridge – cross it, turn right, and enter the forest, the Frankenwäldchen. Follow the small river, Inde – when both river and path make a sharp turn left, do so as well. Follow that path, until you come to a second small bridge – again, cross it, and turn right, passing a small overhanging rock face, following a small tributary of the Inde.

After a few steps, there is a tree standing in the middle of your path. Make sure you pass it on the left (I will assume no liability whatsoever for those who out of sheer spite try to pass it on the right!) Shortly after you passed that tree, the path slightly rises. You pass a makeshift stairway on your left – ignore it, don’t stray from the path, walk past old big trees that look like extinct animals digging their claws into the damp earth.

After a while, you come to a crossing – and the 1st Station of a Stations of the Cross. You turn left, following the Stations of Calvary into yet another forest – the Klauserwäldchen (Forest of the Hermitage). There you can already see the white chapel Maria im Schnee (Mary in the Snow) shimmering through the foliage (If there is foliage on the trees). The name goes back to a legend, the ‘snow wonder,’ according to which Mary appeared in a dream of a Roman Christian in 325 and told him to build a church on the very place where he would find snow the next day – on August 5. The next day, the Esquilin hill in Rome was covered with snow, the church was built and consecrated to Mary in the Snow (Santa Maria Maggiore) and many places of pilgrimage in Europe followed that example.

The Kornelimünster hermitage was founded in 1658. A few meters before you actually reach the white chapel, there is a very small path to your left leading downhill by some steps to the remnants of some stone columns – intended for a summer pavilion that one of Napoleon’s step-daughters started to build in 1812. There, on a tree between two columns, you will find the letterbox.

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