Life at an 800-year-old monastery!

IMG_0162This past summer I set out for Belgium, leaving my home at the Community of Jesus for convent life at the Beguinage in Bruges. Beguinages which are architecturally distinct, and completely urban planned, are scattered across Northern Europe. This 800 year old Beguinage passed from the Beguines, a group of single women who began living together to pursue a vocation in the late 1100s to the Benedictine sisters in the early twentieth century. The traditions of prayer, contemplation, hospitality and charitable good works were passed from the Beguines to these Benedictine sisters who are presently guarding and preserving this sacred and blessed life.

 
Choir stallsSo what is life in this monastery like? Life begins early with a short walk across the courtyard to the public church for the opening Lauds of praise to God for the new day. It is often still dark with stars and distant church spires visible against the lightening sky. Centuries ago Beguines walked this same path and ornate Church Festival processions rounded the courtyard. Kings and Queens have all walked these Beguinage paths as well as thousands of tourists. Now the immensely tall trees stand as silent witnesses through the years as I nip into the sisters entrance and up to my 500 year old choir stall seat.

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