Visit to Douai

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Douai Abbey in Berkshire traces its origin to 1615 when it was founded in Paris as the third house of the re-established English Benedictine Congregation. In 1818 the monastery moved to Douai and finally, in 1903, the laws relating to associations forced most religious orders to leave France in order to avoid suppression. Douai Abbey moved to its present home at Woolhampton in Berkshire.

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The Abbey Church was finally completed in 1993, and a major building project has transformed the architectural character of the monastery in recent years. While on a visit there the other day, I was given a detailed tour of the new library and housing for the Abbey's important archive. The energy for the library is obtained by means of a borehole heat exchanger.

I was there to join the community for the celebration of the Feast of St Benedict. As well as benefiting from warm and generous Benedictine hospitality, I was able to participate in choir at Pontifical Vespers and, the following morning, at Vigils and Lauds which was at the relatively benign time of 6.30am. Brother Anselm who joined the community last year served Mass for me in the Abbot's chapel. He was in my parish and is remembered with affection there. Please say a prayer for him as he and the community test his vocation to follow the Rule of St Benedict.

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The Douai Abbey website has a wealth of information about the Abbey and many photos, including the the progress of various building works.

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