This monastery was built/converted by well-known Brugge architect Josef Vierin. He converted part of the 1100s Béguinage into a monastery for the Benedictine sisters in the 1930s. That is 80 years ago – comparatively recent by Brugge standards where buildings and churches were built between the 1100s and the 1500s in the city centre. I am, however, still fascinated by the brick arches and the wide plaster walls, the marble stairs, the tile floors and the wrought iron banisters. Stability at its best, these walls were built to last.
The Béguinage is stability not only in the spiritual but the physical as well. The vision of the builders and the architect was far beyond themselves.The monastery somehow echoes the message of the convent, the permanence of the Divine office, the church, the Mass. My home church in America, though built a comparatively short time ago, dedicated in 2000, is also built with the vision of permanence reflecting stability. I walk under the brick arches on the corridors every day and over the tiled floor.
When night comes and after compline is sung, this nun is tired. I hold firmly to the beautiful yet simple wrought iron banister and mount the marble stairs to the top and down the hall to my room/cell. The banister is stable, solid, it easily supports my weight.
The banister will still be there, ebony and gleaming, in the morning when I come again to the marble stairs not quite so in need of its support this time.
I walk under the brick arches of the corridor, step out the door and on to the path to Lauds and the church. Stability.