Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Firsthand Report from the New Traditional Benedictine House in Italy

Last week, we heard about a new traditional monastic foundation in Italy. Now, an Italian friend of the NLM actually went there last Sunday and sends in some impressions and pictures.

Villatalla, the village where the new house is situated, is perched halfway up a mountain at 550 m amid a sea of olive trees. The small village of only a few dozen inhabitants in this peaceful surruonding seems perfect for a moanstery.

From there, one has a breathtaking view that sweeps down to the Mediterranean:

Our friend had the opportunity to talk to the monks coming from Le Barroux who have settled there, including dom Jehan de Belleville, an early companion of the recently deceased dom Gérard Calvet, the founder of Le Barroux. While their new house is a new, seperate foundation (i.e. not a filial foundation of Le Barroux), dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena, the monks do not want their new undertaking seen or interpreted as a division or a form of dissent with respect to the current abbot of Le Barroux. Instead, they stress the positive aspect of extending the traditional Benedictine charism also into Italy.

The monks celebrate Holy Mass in the usus antiquior at 9:30 am on weekdays and 10 am on Sundays in the little parish church. The OF Mass is said at 3 pm ad orientem by the young parish priest, who resides in the neighbouring village of Dolcedo, where he himself celebrates the EF every Sunday - not bad for a little valley in the Ligurian hinterland.

Here we see dom Jehan celebrating last Sunday. Our correspondent was particularly touched by the Gregorian chant sung to perfection by the monks:

Our friend ends by saying that it was quite edifying to see how even the rather reserved Ligurians of the village have, in the bare month that they have been there, come to have an affection for these foreign monks, and he has observed how they bring them olive oil and vegetables as gifts.

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