The monks of St Michael’s Abbey are delighted to learn that the Catholic National Library now has a permanent home. We are pleased to have played our part in securing the future of the collection by giving the library shelter for these last ten years. Bravo to the Trustees, especially Mr Antony Tyler, of the CNL for finding such a happy solution to the question of the library’s future!
We are pleased to announce the dates of our traditional summer organ recital series. The Cavaillé-Coll at Farnborough is a magnificent instrument, and there are some fine musicians coming this summer to help you appreciate the fact! Recitals start at 3pm, and are on the first Sunday of the month. There is no charge, simply a retiring collection.
Christmas was celebrated with the usual splendour at the Abbey this year. The ceremonies went very well and the music was lovely. We were pleased to have a truly large attendance at the Midnight Mass.
On the 1st of January, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and Octave Day of Christmas we enjoyed a company of monks form Chilworth Abbey, which belongs to our Congregation and Province. We had a great day together and enjoyed a lovely luncheon cooked by our Brother Michael.
The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are a community of sisters living under the Rule of St Benedict. They settled in Birmingham after their reception into Full Communion with the Catholic Church last year. Fr Abbot recently celebrated Mass for the nuns and gave them a little talk about the Benedictine Confederation, its origins and structure as well as explaining to them the history and current state of our own Congregation. The Sisters are within the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
From Repatriation to Revival
Continuity and Change in the English Benedictine Congregation, 1795-1850
By Dom Alban Hood OSB
In the wake of the French Revolution, English Benedictine monks and nuns were forced to leave their monasteries in France and were repatriated in 1795 to England, over thirty years before emancipation was granted to Catholics there. By 1850, when the English Catholic hierarchy was restored, the English Benedictines were still not fully recovered from losses that had been sustained in terms of personnel, finance and property.
Abbot Cuthbert travelled to New Mexico in the USA to spend a very happy week with the monks of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert who were celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of their monastery. During his visit, he met with the superiors and delegates of the American and Mexican houses of our Congregation as they progress towards establishing a new independent province of our Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation. The meetings were very fruitful and positive, and the celebrations were very happy indeed. The photograph shows Fr Abbot Cuthbert with Brother Bede, one of the novices there. Cuthberts and Bedes were common enough in 7th century England, but sightings these days are rarer!
Our dear friends the Benedictine nuns of St Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde were very keen to celebrate our abbot’s silver jubilee of profession, and so invited us to celebrate Mass and enjoy a festal recreation with them. The monastery band performed, and after a few sketches and songs, the abbot was interrogated through the grille about various events he had recently attended and news of our monasteries. A very good time indeed was had by all. The friendship of the Abbess and nuns of Ryde is a great support to us and we greatly appreciate it.
The Ceremonies of Holy Week went very well this year. We were pleased to have larger attendances than usual. There were no fatalities, and the music was lovely. A number of people travelled great distances to join our little monastic family for its celebration of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. We are grateful to them for their support.
A number of articles have appeared on local history Facebook pages in the last weeks concerning the First World War, and local participation in it. Questions about the Abbey and the Great War have encouraged us to post the following article.
On August 1st 1914, the day after Germany had declared war on Russia, the French Government mobilised its armed forces. Two days later the German ambassador in Paris delivered a note to the French authorities indicating that a state of war existed between their countries. On 4th August, England declared war on Germany.
The monks of Farnborough found themselves in a strange situation. As a result of anti-clericalism in France, the Laws of Associations, and the separation of Church and State, the monks were living in England in exile. When it came to the War however the monks were bemused when their call-up papers arrived in the post. Abbot Cabrol quipped, ‘So we are not welcome to live in France, but they do not mind us dying for France!’