Got that question in an email today along with this link to a story and video showcasing the move by the Benedictine Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey (a venerable, beautiful and historical monastery) to their new digs:
The community is used to upheaval, having moved five times in its 385-year history, including an 18-month stretch behind bars during the French revolution. The latest move was prompted by a need to down-size.
An overall decline in Catholic vocations has left the community with 22 professed nuns and two novices, who between them were responsible for the maintenance and overheads of their former home, a 20-acre site in Worcestershire with buildings by the 19th-century designer and architect Augustus Pugin, who designed the Palace of Westminster. It cost the nuns too much – in money and time – and impinged on their life of prayer and contemplation.
“There’s not a Gothic arch to be seen. It’s high-tech, which takes getting used to, but I do like the architecture.”
I must say, it is very plain and very utilitarian-looking. Benedictines are always practical, and certainly, the nuns needed to be freed up from the arduous upkeep of a monastery meant to house many more than 22 sisters (and it is an unqualified good that the handicapped have full access to the house) but part of being practical, to my way of thinking, is realizing that we human beings have hearts that crave beauty. Particularly for enclosed monastics, who spend all of their lives within the confines of their house and chapel and the grounds, the new place seems drearily stark and unjoyful, to me.
And Benedictines are supposed to be serious about their stewardship of the world, but it grieves me to see these nuns -who get all of their info from the addled MSM- buying so fully into this notion that the planet is being “destroyed,” which is a bit of a conceit to which I would hope they would not go along with.
Your thoughts on the new housing?
UPDATE: Recall that Stanbrook Abbey (along with the beautiful and thriving St. Cecelia’s Abbey in Ryde, Isle of Wight) was the model for Brede Abbey in Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede, a book I cannot recommend enough! Godden, a Benedictine Oblate, spent several years living in the guest house of Stanbrook, researching the monastery and speaking with the nuns, in order to write her masterpiece. Her love for Stanbrook permeates her writing in the book. I think if she saw the new building, she would weep.