The ‘flaming heart’ of Saint Augustine is intertwined with the history of St. Stefanus Belgian abbey beer. In fact, it is so important to our history that this symbol has been placed on the bottle top of every bottle that we brew.
St. Stefanus places huge importance on history and tradition and this is reflected in both our brewing practices and our packaging design. Our Master Brewer still uses the original yeast in his brewing and we include elements from our original monastery on the bottle itself. This is a celebration of our history and reflects our dedication to the preservation of the traditional elements that helped turn St. Stefanus into what it is today.
An intertwined history
As an abbey beer, St. Stefanus was originally brewed by the Augustinian order of monks at the Sint Stefanus Monastery in Ghent. First established in 1295, the monastery continued to brew St. Stefanus up until the mid-20th Century when it became impractical and production was entrusted to the local Van Steenberge Brewery.
History of the flaming heart
The flaming heart, or the burning heart as it is sometimes known, is a powerful symbol that represents Saint Augustine, the founder of the Augustinian Order. The symbol depicts a heart with a crown of flames, pierced by an arrow.
The Sint Stefanus Monastery is home to an order of monks following the Augustinian way of life, meaning that this symbol is incredibly important to them.
One of the Fathers of the monastery, Father Bernard, reflects that the symbol is a visual representation of how Saint Augustine felt when he read the bible. As he read, the words of God struck his heart, which is represented by the arrow. His heart then burst into flames and fire, as represented by the crown of flames.
This flaming heart serves to remind the monks of the monastery of the spiritual awakening of one’s inner world (the heart), prompted by the influences of the outer world (the arrow).
The bottle cap
The flaming heart is depicted on every St. Stefanus bottle cap, in bold bright colours. The image for the design was taken from one of the stained glass windows located within the monastery, and features its vivid colours of green, red and orange. The cap itself reaffirms the connection between the monks and the beer, recognising that St. Stefanus was first created by them.
Around the monastery
The symbol of the flaming heart is depicted throughout the monastery. This sometimes takes the form of grand stained glass windows and impressive marble sculptures or, more subtly, hidden in ornate carvings within the doors and even etched on some of the cutlery. The repeated placements honour this treasured symbol – a symbol that we are proud to have on each and every bottle of St. Stefanus.