First-ever consecration of Flemish Trappist monk draws thousands to Ghent
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    First-ever consecration of Flemish Trappist monk draws thousands to Ghent

    The former head of the Orval Abbey, known for its eponymous bear and cheese, became the first Trappist monk in Belgium's history to be ordained as a bishop. © Belga

    The Flemish head of a well-known beer and cheese-making abbey has become the first-ever Trappist monk to be ordained as a bishop by the Catholic Church.

    Lode Van Hecke, 69, was appointed to become bishop of Ghent’s Saint Bavo Cathedral on Sunday, during a religious ceremony attended by Queen Paola and representatives of Belgium’s Muslim and Jewish communities.

    “Many were surprised —although happily— but still surprised, when Pope Francis appointed a monk bishop of Ghent,” Archbishop Jozef De Kesel said during his address, De Standaard reports.

    Ghent residents flocked to the cathedral, filling up most of its seats in order to witness the historic consecration, which marked Van Hecke’s departure from his position as the abbot of the Orval Abbey, known for its production of an eponymous beer and cheese.

    At one point during the event, the newly ordained bishop dropped to the ground, laying there for a few moments as his fellow clergyman led the ceremony.

    The event drew so many attendants that a large screen was put up in an adjacent building to allow those who could not make it into the cathedral to follow the ceremony, HLN reports.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times