Liturgy Institute London

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Dom Anscar Vonier

In England, Anscar Vonier, Abbot of Buckfast Abbey (1906-1938), responding to the promotion of frequent communion by Pope Pius X (1903-1914), in 1925 published the book A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist in which he affirmed the royal priesthood of all the baptized who share in the priesthood of Christ. Controversial in its time, this insight was affirmed by the Second Vatican Council.

(Dom Daniel McCarthy, The Tablet 7 May 2011)

Vonier, Martin [name in religion Anscar] (1875–1938), theologian and abbot of Buckfast, was born on 11 November 1875 at Ringschnait, near Biberach-an-der-Riss, a Swabian township of the state of Württemberg (Germany), one of fourteen children of Theodulf Vonier, farmer and owner of a brickworks, and his wife, Agatha. The family were migrants from the Tyrol and convinced Catholics. Being born on the feast of St Martin he was baptized with the saint’s name. When Vonier was a few years old the family moved to Rissegg, another small village near Biberach; he attended the village school and began to serve mass. In 1888 he was one of six local boys recruited for the monastery of St Mary at Buckfast, Devon. This consisted of a secular house and some ruins, the remains of the Cistercian abbey dissolved in 1539, which had been acquired in 1882 for the exiled monks of La Pierre-qui-Vire (Yonne). It was assumed that the French monks would eventually be able to return, so two German members of the community suggested that their home area, Swabia, where there were no monasteries, would be a good source of vocations; a small school (alumnate) was established for German boys in 1884. The new recruits were first sent to the college of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Beauvais for a year, to learn French, the working language of Buckfast until 1898; soon Vonier was more fluent in French and English than German. Vonier arrived at Buckfast in August 1889 and, after four years in the alumnate, entered the noviciate (12 May 1893), being given the name Anscar.

Bibliography: to be added