A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor

By Patrick Leigh Fermor

Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his means throughout Europe, as stated in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of international conflict II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a few extra inward trip, describing his numerous sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and so much venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, an excellent repository of paintings and studying; at Solesmes, recognized for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of l. a. Grande Trappe, the place clergymen take a vow of silence. ultimately, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.

More than a background or trip magazine, notwithstanding, this gorgeous brief e-book is a meditation at the that means of silence and solitude for contemporary lifestyles. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an lifestyles whose quietness is just assorted via the silent food, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the stricken waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and lots more and plenty that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the skin and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a nation of peace that's unthought of within the usual world.”

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The Abbey was in the centre of the dynastic troubles of the Plantagenets and the Valois; and during the Hundred Years War it was, to the detriment of religious discipline, less a convent than a citadel. In 1502 the blight of Commendation, an evil whose effects on monastic life of France were as drastic as the phylloxera that centuries later ravaged her vineyards, fell upon St. Wandrille. By this system commendatory abbots—courtiers who were never monks and often not even in holy orders—received abbeys and priories as rewards for service to the State or as the fruits of intrigue or nepotism, swallowing two-thirds of the monastic revenues, and seldom approaching their conventual fiefs nearer than Versailles.

As we walked, the buildings changed in period from the architecture of the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries to Gothic; and we halted at length by the piscina in an ogival cloister of the utmost beauty, outside a great carved door where several other visitors had also been assembled. The guest-master shepherded us into the refectory in which the Abbot, a tall, white-haired, patrician figure with a black skull-cap and a gold pectoral cross on a green cord, was waiting to receive us. To each of the guests he spoke a few words; and some, sinking upon one knee, kissed the great emerald on his right hand.

The monks were scattered, the library was split up and auctioned and the conventual buildings were sold. Most of the old abbey church was pulled down, and the masonry carted off and disposed of by the ton as building material. In 1863 the property was bought and reconstituted—romantically and often most unsuitably—by an Irishman called the Marquis, and later the Duke, de Stacpoole, who belonged to a family of Irish landowners with a curious knack for acquiring foreign titles, his father having been created a viscount and count by Louis XVIII, and marquis and duke by Popes Leo XII and Gregory XVI.

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