The village of Romainmôtier may be tiny (only 400 people live here) but it has one big feature: it is home to the oldest abbey in Switzerland. The abbey, originally built in 515, was replaced by the current church building in the early 11th century, with the Cluny monks, who built the church, remaining there until they were relieved of the building during the Reform.
The energy in the church was amazing. It was a honour to be able to visit and walk the same stones steps that countless monks trod upon on their way to prayers. How many pious men, I wondered, knelt down in this church with heads bowed low? How many eucharists were celebrated to the glory of God? How many fishers of men spent a spell resting weary feet in the same spot Grumbles decided to perch? How many faces were raised up and bathed in the brilliant light filtering through the stained glass windows?
In Australia our settlement history is so new, and feels rather gauche and raw compared to the centuries of ancient yore on display in seemingly every corner of this stunning land. Having grown up on a dairy farm in Victoria, I never imagined I would find myself delicately tracing the letters etched onto a Roman headstone that has stood proud and tall for centuries in a Swiss abbey.
It really is such a privilege to be here.