Ora et Labora, Pray and Work

Abbot Francis Pfanner

Founder of the Mariannhill Monastery

Abbot Francis was born in the Austrian village of Langen, Vorarlberg, in 1825. At his baptism he was given the name Wendelin. After completing High School he studied philosophy and theology in Innsbruck, Brixen (now Bressanone, Italy) and Padua. On 28 July 1850 he was ordained priest in the Cathedral of Brixen. After working several years as a pastor in Haselstauden/Dornbirn he became chaplain to sisters in Agram, (now Zagreb) Croatia. During this time the desire to enter a contemplative monastery grew in him. In 1862 he made a pilgrimage to Rome and a year later to the Holy Land.

On 9 October 1863 he entered novitiate in the Trappist Monastery of Maria Wald in the Eifel (Germany) and was given the name Francis. He made his first profession on 24 November 1864.

Mariannhill Monastery History

In 1882 on the 26 December, Trappist missionary Fr Franziskus Pfanner established Mariannhill Monastery in the outskirts of the city of Durban, in South Africa. Moved by the ideal of promoting the integration of the native Zulu people in the white society of the Transkei region, Fr. Pfanner also promoted local development opening schools, health clinics, craft workshops, printing presses and farms providing work for hundreds of monks, lay missionaries, women religious and natives.


Mariannhill Monastery Documentary