In 2007, Munkeby Mariakloster at Frol by Levanger, became the first convent founded by the Abbeye de Citeaux since the 15th century. The question one might ask is: Why here?
Parts of the answer might be found in the fact that a previous monastery of the same order stood at the same spot in the 12th century. We know little about this previous monastery. We do, however, know that people have traveled along this route from Jämtland in Sweden to Trøndelag for thousands of years and can only assume that this would have been a contributing factor when deciding to locate the monastery here. What we do know for certain is that the original monastery was established some time before 1180, and that it most likely branched out from Lyse Kloster by Bergen. We may also assume that it was abandoned some time before Lyse Kloster suffered the same destiny in 1207, and that the Cistercians from Munkeby in the meantime had founded a monastery on Tautra in Sør-Trøndelag.
Why the monastery enjoyed such a short lifespan remains a mystery. In the centuries that followed, the original church was used as a house of worship for the local congregation, until it was destroyed by fire. Munkeby farm remained in use under the Tautra Monastery until the reformation.
Despite the fact that the church fell into disrepair after the fire, the site never lost its appeal to the residents of Frol. For centuries they kept the memory of the monks alive. So, when representatives of the order's motherhouse in Citeaux, France, suddenly paid a visit to Munkeby Farm in 2007, this was met with joyous surprise by the people of the area.
Father Joel, prior of the monastery in Citeaux, had for a long time wanted a simpler monastic life than what the large organization he belonged to could offer. To rest, he journeyed to his sister convent at Tautra Mariakloster in Sør-Trøndelag, where he contemplated how to make his dream a reality. At Tautra, he met one of the convents friends, who took him along to visit his home in Surnadal. While there, Fateher Joel began listening to God. Did He want Father Joel to found a new monastery in Norway? Abbed Olivier came from France to see him, and to get a better understanding for Father Joels dream. Could it be a calling from God? It soon became clear that Surnadal was not an option if one was to follow the dream through to completion. However, the nuns at Tautra, having resided on the small island since 1999, had first hand experience of how important the heritage from the Middle Ages had been for them. The idea that Munkeby would be the right place to establish the new monastery, came as a natural consequence, and in 2009, four brothers moved into their new dwelling, a stones throw from where the original monastery once stood.