» Last week, thanks to the kindness of the abbot president and the brethren at Buckfast, the new internet network was installed, which will serve both the presidential curia and the reisdent monks and guests of the monastery. The upgrade saw the installation of premium wireless routers throughout the monastery, as well as new switches and the transfer of our cyber security and filtering to SonicWall. Gordon and Georges from Buckfast's IT team did the work assisted by Greg Primavesi, our clerk of works, and Fr Hugh. We are now able to enjoy to the full the increased speed of the fibre-optic broadband installed last year.
» Visitors over the past week include the confirmandi from Fr Austin's parish at Andover, who were here last Sunday for some input into their sacramental preparation; and pupils from Thorngrove School on 1 February, who were treated to a talk and a tour by Fr Oliver, joining us for midday prayer.
» Also on 1 February Stefan and Michael arrived to live with the monastic community until Easter. They are the first participants in our Alongsider Programme, which invites men to live and work with us for a few weeks to experience something more substantial of the life of the monastery. They will be under the care of Fr Gabriel. In a few weeks' time a third man will join them. Please keep them in your payers.
» The first day of February was a busy day, as it was also the day of a book launch here at Douai. The catalogue of our monastic library in Paris, as meticulously compiled by Dom Benet Weldon in 1702, has been edited and made available both in an electronic version through our website, and as of the launch, in a handsome hardbound and limited-run volume printed by Smith Settle of Leeds. The editing and compilation is the fruit of four years' work by Dr Frans Korsten, Dr Jos Blom, and Dr Frans Blom, and Drs Pauline Berens who produced the electronic edition, all of whom are from the University of Nijmegen in Holland. Giving the address at the launch in the Library was Professor Eamon Duffy, of Cambridge, who spoke of the uniqueness of the work. After the formalities the 60 guests were able to enjoy refreshments in the Guest Refectory. It is available from the Library here for £70, a price which reflects the quality of the book and the small numbers printed. The electronic version of the catalogue remains linked from the Library page.
» For the first time in living memory we celebrated the feast of St Blaise which the traditional blessing of throats with candles to guard against ailments of the throat, and indeed all illness. Most of the monks and guests came up for the blessing given during Mass. The candles come from St Blaise's church in Dubrovnik, which houses the tomb of the saint.