with Christine and John Valters Paintner
November 14-22, 2020 - FULL (waiting list available)
Limited to 15 participants
Join our small band of fellow pilgrims in the historic and sacred center of the Austrian capital of Vienna, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Be part of an intimate group to some of the many wonderful monasteries and beautiful sites in and around Vienna.
This is a different kind of journey; it is a pilgrimage, not just a tour. You won't be spending each night in a different city and then moving on. You won't be rushing from site to site to get it all in. You will be rooted in a particular place. Vienna is a wonderful city for monks and artists – a world-class city with much beauty and monastic roots, some even inside the old city walls. Art and culture emanates from the streets and inside churches. Becoming a monk in the world doesn't mean removing yourself from life, but immersing yourself in the vibrant pulse of the world with practices to keep you centered in your own sacred center. Come not to take, but to receive. Don't be a tourist, be a pilgrim.
We - Christine and John Valters Paintner – will be the stewards of this time. In spring of 2012, we sold everything we owned to go on our own life pilgrimage which led us to live in Vienna for six months before settling in Ireland. Vienna is where Christine's father grew up and is now buried alongside her grandparents, and where she traveled often in her youth with her family. We have traveled to Vienna many times over the years, and are always drawn back to this great city for its magic and beauty. It is a city of the heart. Vienna has served as muse and guide for our own inner monks and artists and we are eager to experience it anew with others.
Together we will create a temporary monastic community. We will explore and reflect on the ways the contemplative and creative gifts of this city and surrounding areas can help shape our lives when we return to the world. We will support one another through prayer, adventure, and holy surprises.
Each day we will focus on a particular Benedictine theme and practice to shape our reflection for our pilgrimage to a sacred site and ponder the wisdom of the monastic tradition for our own lives. During our morning sessions we will gather as a community for shared lectio divina, audio divina with some of the classical composers who made Vienna their home, ritual, writing, photography, gentle movement, song, silent presence, and sharing what we are discovering will deepen into this tradition. At the monasteries we will have private tours in English and be invited to enter into the wisdom of these places.
We will also have the option and opportunity to join the monks at Schottenstift Abbey (where we are staying at the guesthouse) for their morning, evening, and night prayers as part of our shared monastic rhythm.
We will be visiting different monastic sites, as well as a couple of other treats and treasures, with a private tour guide at each location, spending time there and allowing the places to speak to us. No hopping off a giant coach with 50 other tourists to snap pictures and move on. We will walk and utilize Vienna's amazing public transportation system (you will receive a weekly transit pass good for all transport within the city limits) on this up-close and personal pilgrimage, to get a feel for daily life there.
This is our favorite time of year to be in Vienna because the Christmas markets will be opening while we are there and it creates a magical atmosphere to the city.
Book of Days
Itinerary subject to modifications as needed.
Day 1: You will arrive to the Benedictine monastery guesthouse (Benediktushaus) in the heart of the old city of Vienna between 2:00-4:00 p.m. to get settled. This evening we have a welcome and orientation session and then go out to dinner together for Viennese cuisine.
Day 2: Together we will attend a Catholic Mass at St. Augustine Church with its world-class music and orchestra, followed by lunch in a Viennese cellar restaurant and a guided city walking tour (2-3 miles) in the afternoon to get oriented. Evening is free and dinner is on your own.
Day 3: We begin with a group session in the morning for reflection, shared lectio divina, and conversation around pilgrimage. We will have lunch together at an Italian restaurant, followed by a private tour of the Schottenstift Benedictine monastery where we are staying. Evening is free and dinner is on your own.
Day 4: We begin with our group session in the morning and in the afternoon travel to Klosterneuberg, an Augustinian Abbey on the outskirts of Vienna where we will have lunch together at their Viennese restaurant and a private tour. Evening is free and dinner is on your own.
Day 5: We begin with our group session in the morning followed by lunch together at a French restaurant. The afternoon is free and in the evening is the option to attend a Taize service at St. Ruprecht's, the oldest church in Vienna. Dinner is on your own (you might try the great Wurstelstand - sausage stand - nearby to St Ruprecht's).
Day 6: We begin with a group session in the morning, followed by lunch at a Turkish restaurant, and then a visit to Vienna's Central Cemetery with a beautiful Art Deco church and grounds for walking. Evening is free and dinner is on your own.
Day 7: We begin with our group session in the morning and then travel to the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz by private coach where we will eat lunch at their Viennese tavern and and have a private tour in English in the afternoon before returning to the city center. Evening is free and dinner is on your own.
Day 8: We begin with our group session in the morning and then we will head out to the Vienna Woods for a gentle hike together (3-4 miles with slight elevation gain) and have lunch in a Viennese tavern in the woods. We have our closing dinner together followed by an evening session to bring our pilgrimage to a close.
Day 9: 8:00-10:00 Breakfast
Departure anytime this morning
*Pictured left: Schottenstift Abbey, where we will be staying in their guesthouse.
Praying the Hours
You will also have the option to join the monks of Schottenstift Abbey for prayers in the morning, at midday, and at night. We will hand out this schedule when you arrive to Vienna.
Choose with Discernment
We want your pilgrimage experience to be soulfully enriching, stretching and challenging in the best ways, radically hospitable, inspiring, and wildly supportiveof where you are. If you're not sure if this program is right for you or your fit with Abbey of the Arts please be sure to review everything here carefully, read more about the Abbey, about Christine, about the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks, read one of Christine's books, and if you feel a YES rising up within we eagerly welcome you to join us!
If you still have questions please get in touch by email. If you want to have a brief Skype session to make a live connection, let us know that as well.
When you register you are making a commitment both to yourself as well as to us and the community that forms. We limit participants to a small intimate group. We know sometimes life intervenes and cancellations happen. Please be clear on our cancellation policy. But also please be clear on your commitment to this experience.
- a simple, yet very comfortable, single or double room en suite in the monastery guest house
- daily breakfast
- 7 lunches (main course provided)
- 2 dinners (main course provided)
- all public transportation on the pilgrimage itself (you must get to Vienna on your own)
- entry fees for group outings and private tours
- travel to and from Vienna
- trip insurance (required)
- beverages, desserts, appetizers, gratuities on these for our shared meals
- dinners as indicated on the itinerary (lots of inexpensive options in Vienna).
Steps to Register
- Read the entire page including the FAQs below.
- Go to the registration page to pay your nonrefundable deposit and secure your space.
- We will send you a confirmation of your registration (usually within 24 hours) and the Terms and Conditions which need to be signed digitally and returned to finalize your space.
You will need a passport to travel to Austria. U.S. citizens can visit for up to 3 months on an automatic travel visa. EU citizens can enter visa-free. Citizens of other countries should check with your local Austrian embassy.
Please note: This pilgrimage will require lots of walking. Vienna is a very walkable city. We will be traveling by public transit and walking around the old city. You should be able to walk 3-4 miles comfortably at a moderate pace. Please contact us first if you have concerns about this.
Policies and FAQs
Where is the monastery located?
Schottenstift Abbey will be our home for the 8 nights of our journey. It is located at the Freyung in the very heart of Vienna's center. We are ideally situated to take in the beauty of old city.
What is the weather like?
November can bring colder temperatures and rain, but there is also the chance of beautiful autumn days. Dressing in layers works best, with comfortable shoes, and bring an umbrella with you.
What is included with the meals?
Breakfast is included at Schottenstift Abbey each morning in the guest dining room. Options include breads, cold cuts, yogurt, and fruit. If you need additional or alternative items, there is a grocery store across the street where you can purchase needed supplies.
Lunches and dinners will all be at different restaurants that we love, so there will be options. Your meal includes a main course. Servings in Austria are generally pretty hearty. There are often vegetarian options on the menu, but limited as Austrian's food culture is still very meat (mostly pork and beef) and potatoes-centered. We will be dining in places that serve typical Viennese cuisine, as well as a lovely French, Italian, and Turkish restaurant to include some variety. Beverages, appetizers, and desserts are an additional cost. Keep in mind that in Austria often pitchers of water are not provided for tables and drinks need to be purchased separately.
What payment forms do you accept?
You can pay by credit card right from this web page using the buttons above. We also accept checks in USD or Euros (we will send you our U.S. or Irish mailing address depending on where you are sending payment from) and payment by bank transfer (we will send the details of our account on request). If you would prefer to pay the amount in USD$, please contact Christine for the amount. You can find current exchange rates at xe.com. Keep in mind that your credit card bank will convert the currency for you.
What is your cancellation policy?
The €600 deposit secures your space in this small pilgrimage group and is nonrefundable.
The balance of the program fee is due six months prior and is nonrefundable after that time.
We require that you obtain travel insurance to cover any personal emergencies that may prevent you from joining us. We are unable to make any exceptions to our refund policy.
What is the schedule of the day like?
Please see the Book of Days above for the schedule, most days will be full, but we hope to offer some spaciousness within our time together for lingering at different places. The schedule is subject to changes as needed. We usually begin with a morning session in our seminar room to root ourselves in the experience of pilgrimage together. Most evenings are free to rest or take advantage of Vienna's amazing cultural opportunities like classical music, the opera, or the ballet.
Will you match me with a roommate?
Everyone who participates will have a single room with their own bathroom, unless you are traveling with a friend or partner, in which case you can share a double room for a reduced program fee.
How much walking is there?
Vienna is a fantastic city for walking as most of it is flat and the city center is compact (there is a three-mile ring street running around the perimeter to give you a sense of size). We will be providing you with a weekly transit pass so you can travel anywhere in the city limits that week on their wonderful transit system. You should be able to walk 3 miles at a time at a moderate pace. Please contact us if you have concerns.
Does the pilgrimage have disabled access?
Unfortunately because of the limitations of some of the older sites we are visiting including the monastery where we are staying, you will need to be able to navigate a flight or two of stairs. We regret that this is the reality of many old European cities. Please let us know if you have mobility concerns so we can help you to discern if this is the right experience for you.
How do I best prepare for this time?
Once you say yes, the pilgrimage has already begun! Pay attention to the dreams of your waking and sleeping life in the coming months to see what is being stirred. Christine and John will be sending some suggested reading and reflection. Christine's book The Soul of a Pilgrim is a wonderful way to begin pondering your journey of the heart.
What is the best way to get to Vienna?
Fly into Vienna International Airport and from there you can take a taxi or public transit to the monastery. We will be providing specific directions as we approach our time together.
Vienna is near many other fabulous cities in Europe so arriving by train is also an option. You can get to Bratislava, Prague, and Budapest all very easily. We recommend visiting Salzburg if you have time (there is a Benedictine monastery there) as well as the beautiful and charming village of Hallstatt, set between the side of a mountain and edge of a lake, where the earliest Celtic remains in Europe are found. The Austrian Alps are located in the Tirol region in the west of the country with Innsbruck as the main city. Everything is very accessible by train or bus.
Carbon Offsets and Travel
Abbey of the Arts has made a commitment to contribute a portion of the fees from our pilgrimages and live retreats to carbon offsetting companies that have been certified by third party organizations for their effectiveness. This is in addition to our Earth Monastery work to help nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness, as well as limiting the number of live programs we offer and our own air travel as much as possible. We believe Earth is our original monastery, the source of our contemplative wisdom and creative inspiration.In 2020 and 2021 we have chosen three companies to support. You are invited to consider making an additional contribution yourself if you are able.
Your Guides for the Journey
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is a Benedictine oblate and the online abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a global community serving thousands of monks, artists, pilgrims, and mystics who are hungry to integrate contemplative practice and creative expression. Christine is also the author of twelve nonfiction books on monastic spirituality and creativity, as well as a poet who has been published in several journals along with her collection Dreaming of Stones. She has lived on the wild west coast of Ireland for the last five years, falling always more in love with the place. You can find out more about Christine here or see more of the books she has written here.
John Valters Paintner, MTS
John earned a Masters in Theological Studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. After working in parish ministry for several years, John taught high school religion with a focus on the Hebrew Scriptures for twelve years. In 2012 he and Christine moved to Vienna for six months and then on to Galway, Ireland where they live together now serving Abbey of the Arts in partnership. John brings his love of storytelling and his wicked sense of humor in service to our experience together. Visit the "About John" page for more information.