The Abbey is much bigger than what can be visited. Next to the church is a little store where one can buy books, Christian paraphernalia, Abbey cheese and Averbode Abbey beer.
I am not sure of it is still the case but in my youth Averbode Abbey was inextricably linked with Catholic inspired schools.
To keep self-sufficient the Abbey has also a publishing house called, and I translate, The Good Press.
I grew up with their publications for young children like “Zonnestraal” (Sunbeam) and then, when I was eleven or so and for years to come the unforgettable weekly “Vlaamse Filmpjes” (Flemish Films or so). They started publishing it in 1930 and as far as I know it still is being published.
In the very late Sixties and early Seventies I still had to go to school on Saturday morning till noon. It was a compensation for the free Wednesday afternoons.
Oh how did I look forward for this weekly booklet. Thrillers, detectives, love stories; it was a heavenly surprise. Most of these stories were written by know to well know Flemish writers.
For most children it was their first contact with literature and boy did I stay hooked as I still read a lot.