Mount St Bernard Abbey
Mount St Bernard's Abbey
|Abbot||Fr Erik Varden (ad nutum)|
|Location||Near Whitwick, Leicestershire, United Kingdom|
Mount St Bernard's Abbey is a Cistercian monastery of the Strict Observance (Trappists) near Whitwick in Leicestershire, England, founded in 1835. Dom Joseph Delargy retired as abbot in June 2013, after completing two six-year terms. The abbatial election was inconclusive, and Fr Erik Varden was appointed Superior ad nutum (i.e. with the agreement of the community). Varden will serve as Superior until the community holds a new election, which is expected to be in or around December 2014. Varden does not receive the title or spiritual responsibilities of an abbot, and his task is essentially to manage the temporalities of the abbey until the community elects a successor to Delargy.
Mount St Bernard's Abbey was founded in 1835 on 222 acres (0.898 km2) of land given by Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps De Lisle, who wanted to re-introduce monastic life to the country. He was helped by a loan from Bishop Thomas Walsh, the Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District. At first, the monks lived in a four-roomed cottage but later domestic buildings and a chapel were built. The first monks were Augustine, Luke, Xavier, Cyprian, Placid, Simeon and Fr. Odilo Woolfrey. The first monastery was opened in 1837, designed by William Railton. The permanent monastery, as it stands today, was completed in 1844 with donations from John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, and other benefactors. It was designed by Augustus Pugin, who offered his services free. In 1848, it was granted the status of an abbey by Pope Pius IX and its first abbot was appointed, Dom Bernard Palmer. It was united with the Cistercian congregation by a papal brief in 1849.
In 1856 a reformatory school for young Catholic delinquents was founded at Mount Saint Bernard It closed in 1881 after several episodes of disorder, but re-opened temporarily in 1884-5 to house boys who had burnt and sunk their own reformatory ship moored in the Mersey.
The abbey suffered from financial problems and a lack of monks joining the community through the nineteenth century. This improved in the twentieth century and the church was extended between 1935 and 1939, although it was not consecrated until 1945, by the Bishop of Nottingham. Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was a monk at the abbey from 1950 until his death in 1964.
The monks get up at 3.15 am every day and go to bed at 8.00 pm. The three focuses of monastic life at Mount St Bernard's Abbey are prayer, work and reading with study. They take part in daily liturgical prayer, known as Opus Dei or Canonical Hours. They meditatively read the Bible, which is called Lectio Divina. Silence and solitude are very important to the order and the abbey. Their work includes running their 200-acre (0.81 km2) dairy farm, pottery, bookbinding, beekeeping and tending the vegetable garden and orchard. They also run a gift shop where they sell the items that they make in the abbey. The abbey has a guesthouse for friends and family of the monks, retreatants and those who are interested in the monastic life.
Life at the Abbey was briefly shown in Richard Dawkins television programme Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life.
Mount St Bernard Abbey maintains and ecumenical link with the Anglican Cistercians, a dispersed and uncloistered order of single, celibate, and married men that is officially recognized within the Church of England.