Douai Abbey

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Douai Abbey is home to a community of monks of the English Benedictine Congregation. The monastery is under the patronage of St Edmund, King & Martyr, and was founded in Paris in 1615. Uprooted by the French Revolution it settled at Douai in Flanders, and finally returned to England in 1903, settling at Woolhampton in Berkshire.

Until 1999 the community ran a school. Douai monks still maintain the other principal English Benedictine apostolate, serving the Church in parishes throughout England. At the monastery itself we welcome guests on retreats or courses, as well as those who seek merely some quiet time. There are facilities for conferences of modest size, and youth or chaplaincy groups. Our library and archive building houses a rich resource for study and research, and is open to researchers and students by application. From time to time we host a number of sacred concerts given by leading performers.

However, the primary work of the monks is the regular celebration of the sung Divine Office and the Mass, and all such liturgical worship is open to the public. If you are a single Catholic man between the ages, generally, of 18 and 45 and wonder if you might be called to share our way of life, please do look at our information on vocations. Our website explains our life and history in greater depth, but you are always welcome to come and see.

Now when it pleased Almighty God that Romanus should rest from his labours, and that the life of Benedict should be manifest to the world for an example to all men, that the candle set upon a candlestick might shine and give light to the whole Church of God, our Lord vouchsafed to appear to a certain Priest living far off, who had make ready his dinner for Easter Day, saying to him: “Thou hast prepared good cheer for thyself, and yet My servant in such a place is famished for hunger.” Romanus presently rose up, and on the solemn day of Easter went towards the place with such meat as he had provided for himself, where seeking the man of God, amongst craggy rocks, winding valleys and hollow pits he found him hid in a cave. Then after prayers, and blessing the Almighty Lord, they sat down, and after some spiritual discourse the Priest said: “Rise, and let us take our refection, for this is Easter Day.” To whom the man of God answered: “I know it is Easter, because I have found so much favour as to see thee.” (For not having a long time conversed with men, he had not otherwise known it was Easter Day.) The good Priest did therefore again affirm it, saying: “Truly this is the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, and therefore it is not fit that you should keep abstinence, and for this cause I am sent that we may eat together that which Almighty God hath bestowed on us.” Whereupon blessing God, they fell to their meat. Their discourse and dinner ended, the Priest returned to his church.

Pope St Gregory the Great, The Life of our Most Holy Father Benedict, Chapter 1
Monk, by young American artist Gaelen Mibeck
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