Charges of embezzlement, sex scandal at Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky

From The Louisville Courier-Journal: Nestled on 2,200 acres in the hills of Nelson County, the 166-year-old Abbey of Gethsemani is known for its peace and tranquility. But now the oldest operating monastery in America, where 42 monks live, work and pray seven times a day, is roiled by controversy. The Abbey has accused one of [Read More...]

Raise a glass tonight to the men who invented champagne: monks!

From my blog neighbor Frank Weathers:  Let me just skip you straight to the Wikipedia citation for champagne, complete with footnotes for you to follow up on: Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, but he did make important contributions to the production and quality of Champagne wine.[6][7] The oldest recorded sparkling [Read More...]

US to open first Trappist brewery outside Europe

Details:  Beer probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when you think of the word “monastery” – but since receiving official recognition on Dec. 10, Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., will become the first American brewery to be manned exclusively by Trappist monks. The beer, labeled “The Spencer Trappist Ale,” is to be brewed [Read More...]

Next time you type an email address, thank a monk

Researchers say monks invented one of the most commonly used internet abbreviations. From Huffington Post:  The @ symbol is one of the Internet’s most ubiquitous characters; and modern writers would probably be hard-pressed to think of a way that they would use it in a non-digital context. However, the “at” sign was actually invented hundreds of [Read More...]

The Brew Evangelization

With beer! From CNS: Even before retired Pope Benedict XVI set up a pontifical council for new evangelization and convoked a world Synod of Bishops on the theme, a new group of Benedictine monks was using Latin and liturgy to reach out to those whose faith was weak or nonexistent. Now they’ve added beer to [Read More...]

UPDATE: Franciscans Deny Priests Killed in Syria: “The Monks Are Still Alive”

Note: I’ve removed an earlier report from this blog indicating that the Vatican had confirmed Fr. Francois Murad’s execution.  Details are just too sketchy. A colleague forwarded this brief news item to me, dated late Friday: In a statement to the religious information service SIR, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa has said the news reported by Radio [Read More...]

Praise Cheeses: Trappists Keep Alive Tradition in Bosnia

Details: Three Roman Catholic monks are fighting to keep alive a monastic cheese-making tradition in Bosnia that has been passed down by word of mouth for 130 years. The pale yellow Trappist cheese made by monks of the Marija Zvijezda monastery once graced the tables of royal courts in Vienna and Belgrade, survived two world [Read More...]

Closed abbey searching for another religious group to take it over

You’ll remember that the Blue Cloud Abbey closed its doors last summer. Now, the search is on for another religious group or community to take it over. Details:  Caretakers at Blue Cloud Abbey, the Benedictine monastery overlooking the Whetstone Valley in northeast South Dakota, are looking for another religious order to occupy their vacant premises. [Read More...]

Amazing: how monks rebuilt a monastery from Spain in California

From the New York Times:  The rebirth of a medieval Cistercian monastery building here on a patch of rural Northern California land was, of course, improbable. William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, brought the dismantled Santa Maria de Óvila monastery from Spain but failed to restore it. The City of San Francisco, after some fitful starts [Read More...]

The latest Trappist business: ice cream

They’ve given us everything from fruitcake and fudge to candy and soap and even bonsai trees and caskets.   (Of course, let’s not forget ale!) Now, the Trappists are getting into the ice cream business.  Details:  Scrumptious cookies, artisan butter, and fine butter-based candies: these are some of the products of Hokkaido’s Trappist abbey for [Read More...]