Monastery of the Holy Ghost:Denmark’s Oldest Institution

The Monastery of the Holy Ghost as the oldest social institution in Denmark has performed various functions and purposes from its establishment up to the present time. Founded as a hospital in 1431 by Lady Maren Hemmingsdater, it likewise functioned as a charitable institution of religious nature. It formally became a part of the Order of the Holy Ghost in 1451. Today, it functions primarily as a retirement home for the elderly.

From 1431 to 1953, the Monastery as it is more popularly known in spite of its varied functions, was Aalborg’s hospital. It specialized in the care of lepers while serving as a home for both male and female religious. Its inclusion in the Order of the Holy Ghost gained high status for the establishment. It covered its maintenance costs mainly through income-producing farms and mills. It also had its own brick works which contributed to its income generating efforts.

The Monastery was secularized during the Reformation in 1536. The hospital function was retained with most of the religious choosing to continue their work for the poor. However, more lay people were welcomed to join in the efforts for taking care of the poor, sick, and the orphaned.

The Latin grammar school of Aalborg also called the monastery grounds as its home for about 300 years. It continues to perform its social care functions to this day by offering independent apartments for the elderly. For most foreign visitors however, it would present the best example of an excellently preserved medieval structure in the Brick Gothic style. 


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