The Benedictine monastery of Gut Aich near Salzburg said Tuesday it had submitted its custom of hand-washing -- a greeting ritual -- to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to add to its Intangible Heritage list.
The ritual -- performed by monks on the monastery's visitors upon arrival -- brings people closer together and is understood across all cultures and religions, Prior Johannes Pausch told a press conference.
"You encounter people on another level. With this ritual, visitors know: 'I am welcome'."
A Benedictine tradition that is dying out even within the order, the hand-washing ritual has been kept up at the Gut Aich monastery since it was set up in 2004.
And at a "time of increasing superficiality and hectic" pace, people appreciated this personal contact and interaction, Pausch said.
Gut Aich calls itself a "European monastery," aimed at bringing the region's various cultures together.