Monks, Nuns and Turtles

While St. Benedict says that a monastery should contain everything within its walls so that the monks do no have to leave the enclosure, the saint himself occasionally made holy pilgrimages to see other abbots and even family. Hardly a more touching example of a family reunion exists than his meeting with his twin sister Scholastica.

Fr. Martin and I recently had a chance to imitate this good practice by visiting the Benedictines of Mary ( in Gower, MO. Besides having time for prayer and rest in their guesthouse for priests, we enjoyed the beauty of their chant, their delightful cooking and some informal moments of recreation with the nuns. While we live very far apart, we recognize in their life that same spirit of St. Benedict which prefers nothing to the love of Christ. We invite our friends to help them in their mission by buying their CD ( or making a donation.

As spring has come to Norcia, so too have more and more people who wish to buy our beer. The brewery shop which is open Saturday mornings often brings Italians from all over the country and even foreigners looking for a chance to buy Nursia ( directly from the monks. The good weather seems to call for Nursia Blonde, which can be fittingly enjoyed on a picnic or an evening on the porch. Some stay for the sung Conventual Mass at 10am, some share a prayer request, but all wish us well in our efforts to rebuild.

Various hurdles have kept us from starting construction on the new brewery but we know in God’s time and with His help it will take shape.

Regular readers of these updates will remember that Tertullian, our tortoise, seems to follow the liturgical calendar by coming out of his periods of hibernation at timely moments throughout the year. This year was no exception. Sometime during the octave of Easter he began making appearances and now circles the cloister regularly for exercise.

As a related bit of “animal news,” soon we will have completed the construction of a free range chicken coop. Since no meat is eaten in the monastery except for Christmas and Easter, fresh eggs will help to supplement the diet of fish, beans and, of course, pasta.

This summer, many young men will make vocation visits to consider monastic life and one monk already with us will conclude his formation. He will be making the final commitment of Solemn vows on June 8, the feast of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom (and this year also the feast of the Sacred Heart).

Br. Augustine Wilmeth will profess his vows of obedience, stability and conversion, and give his life definitively to God. It is a moment which we hope to share with all you, if not with your physical presence, with your prayers.

In Christ,
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.