Belmont Abbey

I am very grateful to Fr Thomas Regan OSB for this fascinating information about Belmont Abbey which he sent me in response to my mentioning that Bishop Fulton Sheen was the titular Bishop of Newport:
My monastery, Belmont Abbey, was the Pro-Cathedral for that Benedictine diocese, until 1916. Then Benedict XV raised Belmont to the rank of Abbey in 1920, and the Cathedral was transferred to Cardiff and the Secular Clergy. BUT... In his Bull 'Praeclara Gesta' he stated "The Holy See will gladly take care that there is never lacking among the Bishops of England and Wales one of the sons of St Benedict, as in former times, and to adorn it with his learning and virtue."

From 1859 to 1916, Belmont was the Common House of Studies for the English Benedictine Congregation. Monks from Douai, Downside and Ampleforth were sent there. The monasteries provided 'professors' who became Canons of the Diocesan Chapter - so they were both monks and canons!

At Belmont the habit was worn, hair was shorn, and Gregorian Chant sung. When Abbot Prosper Guéranger visited Belmont, he described it as 'the most observant monastery in Europe', being amazed by its full Choir of young monks observing the full round of monastic life. Once trained, the 'youngsters' then returned to their own monasteries to invigorate observance. This arrangement ended in 1916, and Belmont began to grow as an independent community.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen visited Belmont and preached at the centenary celebrations in 1959.

Last Wednesday, the monks re-elected Abbot Paul Stonham for a further eight year term.
I am looking forward to my first visit to Belmont Abbey in a couple of weeks' time for a clergy retreat to be given by Fr Ignatius Harrison.

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